Crotonic acid

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Crotonic acid, also known as trans-2-butenoic acid, is an organic compound with the formula CH₃CH=CHCO₂H. It is a colorless to pale yellow liquid with a sharp, acrid smell, primarily used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, perfumes, and plastics. The compound belongs to the group of carboxylic acids and is notable for its presence in croton oil, from which its name is derived. Crotonic acid exists in two isomeric forms, the trans form being more stable and thus more common.

Properties[edit | edit source]

Crotonic acid is characterized by its double bond configuration, which significantly influences its physical and chemical properties. The trans configuration of the double bond in crotonic acid results in a lower boiling point and higher melting point compared to its cis isomer, isocrotonic acid. It is soluble in water, ethanol, and ether, making it versatile for various chemical reactions and applications.

Synthesis[edit | edit source]

Crotonic acid can be synthesized through several methods. One common approach involves the base-catalyzed dehydrohalogenation of 3-bromobutanoic acid. Another method is the oxidation of crotyl alcohol. Advances in chemical synthesis have led to more efficient and environmentally friendly processes, including biocatalytic routes.

Applications[edit | edit source]

Crotonic acid and its derivatives are used in a wide range of applications. In the pharmaceutical industry, it serves as a precursor for the synthesis of active pharmaceutical ingredients. In the field of polymer chemistry, crotonic acid is used in the production of co-polymers, which have applications in adhesives, coatings, and plastics. Additionally, its esters are employed as plasticizers and in the manufacture of perfumes.

Safety[edit | edit source]

Handling crotonic acid requires caution due to its corrosive nature and potential health effects. It can cause skin and eye irritation upon contact, and inhalation of its vapors can lead to respiratory discomfort. Safety measures include the use of personal protective equipment and adequate ventilation in areas where crotonic acid is used or stored.

Environmental Impact[edit | edit source]

The environmental impact of crotonic acid is subject to its production, usage, and disposal practices. Proper management and disposal procedures are essential to minimize its potential effects on the environment. Biodegradation studies suggest that crotonic acid can be degraded by various microorganisms, indicating a potential for bioremediation in contaminated sites.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD