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Acetylene: Production and Use

Industrial Chemistry of Acetylene

Since the thirties, acetylene has been an important starting material for the chemical industry. In Ludwigshafen (at BASF), acetylene was converted under pressure with carbon monoxide, carbonyl compounds, alcohols, and acids into a huge number of valuable products and intermediate products. Nickel tetracarbonyl, for example, catalyzes the addition of carbon monoxide and water to acetylene yielding propenoic acid (acrylic acid). Instead of water, alcohols and amines can be used in this reaction, too, obtaining the respective acid derivatives, a propenoic acid ester (acrylic ester) or a propenamide (acrylamide).

Carbonylations of acetylene

The addition of formaldehyde to acetylene smoothly proceeds with copper acetylide and silicon dioxide catalysts.

Addition of formaldehyde to acetylene

The alcohols formed are used as starting materials in further reactions. Tetrahydrofuran, for example, can be obtained by hydrogenation and subsequent acid-catalyzed dehydration of 2-butyne-1,4-diol (1).

Benzene (2) and 1,3,5,7-cyclooctatetraene (3) can be synthesized by catalytic cyclooligomerization of acetylene.

Synthesis of tetrahydrofuran, benzene and 1,3,5,7-cyclooctatetraene
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