From WikiMD's Food, Medicine & Wellness Encyclopedia


1-Butanol, also known as n-butanol or butyl alcohol, is a primary alcohol with a 4-carbon structure and the molecular formula C4H10O. It is a member of the butanol family and has a straight-chain structure. 1-Butanol is an important solvent and chemical intermediate used in the production of butyl acrylate, butyl acetate, glycol ethers, plastics, and rubber. It occurs naturally as a minor product of the fermentation of sugars and other carbohydrates and is present in many foods and beverages. It is also used as a component of hydraulic and brake fluids.

Properties[edit | edit source]

1-Butanol has a boiling point of 117.7 degrees Celsius and a melting point of -89.8 degrees Celsius. It is miscible with many organic solvents and water, which makes it a versatile solvent. Its solubility in water and its ability to dissolve a wide range of chemicals are important properties that contribute to its use in industry. The compound is also noted for its characteristic banana-like odor.

Production[edit | edit source]

The industrial production of 1-butanol typically involves the hydroformylation of propylene to form butyraldehyde, which is then hydrogenated to produce 1-butanol. Another method of production is through the fermentation of biomass, which is considered more sustainable and environmentally friendly. This biological route to 1-butanol is gaining interest due to concerns over fossil fuel depletion and environmental impact.

Uses[edit | edit source]

1-Butanol is widely used in the manufacturing of various chemicals. It serves as a solvent in the production of paints, coatings, varnishes, and resins. Its application in the pharmaceutical industry includes its use as a solvent for the extraction of fats, oils, and waxes. In the plastics industry, 1-butanol is a precursor to butyl acrylate and butyl acetate, both of which are used in the production of plastics and rubber. Additionally, 1-butanol is used in the formulation of hydraulic and brake fluids.

Safety[edit | edit source]

Exposure to 1-butanol can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory system. Ingestion or inhalation of high concentrations can lead to central nervous system depression, characterized by dizziness, drowsiness, headache, and even unconsciousness. Proper handling and ventilation are important to minimize exposure and reduce the risk of health effects.

Environmental Impact[edit | edit source]

1-Butanol is considered to be relatively safe for the environment. It is biodegradable and does not accumulate in the environment. However, spills of 1-butanol can lead to contamination of soil and water, posing a risk to aquatic life. Therefore, spills should be managed promptly and efficiently to minimize environmental impact.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD