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Phthalic acid was obtained by French chemist Auguste Laurent in 1836 by oxidizing naphthalene tetrachloride, and, believing the resulting substance to be a naphthalene derivative, he named it naphthalenic acid. Swiss chemist Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac determined its formula and showed Laurent’s supposition to be incorrect, upon which Laurent gave it its present name. Manufacturing methods in the nineteenth century included oxidation of naphthalene tetrachloride (prepared from naphthalene, potassium chlorate and hydrochloric acid) with nitric acid, or, better, oxidation of the hydrocarbon with fuming sulfuric acid, using mercury or mercury(II) sulfate as a catalyst.
It forms white crystals, melting at 210 °C with decomposition into water and phthalic anhydride. Heating with an excess of lime produces benzene. The acid (and anhydride) are largely used in the color industry (see phenolphthalein).
This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Phthalic_acid". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|