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Butanol or butyl alcohol (sometimes also called biobutanol when produced biologically), is a primary alcohol with a 4 carbon structure and the molecular formula of C4H10O. It is primarily used as a solvent, as an intermediate in chemical synthesis, and as a fuel. There are four isomeric structures for butanol.
Additional recommended knowledge
The unmodified term butanol usually refers to the straight chain isomer with the alcohol functional group at the terminal carbon, which is also known as n-butanol or 1-butanol. The straight chain isomer with the alcohol at an internal carbon is sec-butanol or 2-butanol. The branched isomer with the alcohol at a terminal carbon is isobutanol; 2-methyl-1-propanol, and the branched isomer with the alcohol at the internal carbon is tert-butanol; 2-methyl-2-propanol.
Butanol isomers, due to their different structures, have somewhat different melting and boiling points. All are moderately miscible in water, less so than ethanol, and more so than the higher (longer carbon chain) alcohols. This is because all alcohols have a hydroxyl group which makes them polar which in turn tends to promote solubility in water. At the same time the carbon chain of the alcohol resists solubility in water. Methanol, ethanol and propanol, are fully miscible in water because the hydroxyl group predominates while butanol is moderately miscible because of the balance between the two opposing solubility trends. Like many alcohols, butanol is toxic.
Butanol is considered as a potential biofuel (butanol fuel). Butanol at 85 percent strength can be used in cars without any change to the engine (unlike ethanol) and it produces more power than ethanol and almost as much power as gasoline.
Butanol sees use as a solvent for a wide variety of chemical and textile processes, in organic synthesis and as a chemical intermediate. It is also used as a paint thinner and a solvent in other coating applications where it is used as a relatively slow evaporating latent solvent in lacquers and ambient-cured enamels. It finds other uses such as a component of hydraulic and brake fluids.
It is also used as a base for perfumes, but on its own has a highly alcoholic aroma.
Since the 1950s, most butanol in the United States is produced commercially from fossil fuels. The most common process starts with propene, which is run through an hydroformylation reaction to form butanal, which is then reduced with hydrogen to butanol. Butanol can also be produced by fermentation of biomass by bacteria. Prior to the 1950s, Clostridium acetobutylicum was used in industrial fermentation processes producing butanol. Research in the past few decades showed results of other microorganisms that can produce butanol through fermentation.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Butanol". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|