Butanol or butyl alcohol (sometimes also called "biobutanol" when produced biologically), is a
primary alcoholwith a 4 carbonstructure and the molecular formulaof C4H10O. It belongs to the higher alcohols and branched-chain alcohols. [ [http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v451/n7174/abs/nature06450.html Non-fermentative pathways for synthesis of branched-chain higher alcohols as biofuels : Abstract : Nature ] ]
It is primarily used as a solvent, as an intermediate in chemical synthesis, and as a fuel.
There are four
isomeric structures for butanol.
The unmodified term "butanol" usually refers to the straight chain isomer with the alcohol
functional groupat 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
misciblein 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 considered toxic. It has shown low order of toxicity in single dose experiments to laboratory animals. [ 16 ECETOC JACC No. 41 n-Butanol (CAS No. 71-36-3), European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals, Brussels, December 2003, pages 3-4.] [ [http://www.dow.com/productsafety/finder/nbut.htm#HealthInfo n-Butanol ] ] and is considered safe enough for use in cosmetics. Brief, repeated overexposure with the skin can result in depression of the
central nervous system, as with other short-chain alcohols. Exposure may also cause severe eye irritation and moderate skin irritation. The main dangers are from prolonged exposure to fumes. In extreme cases this includes suppression of the central nervous system and even death. Under most circumstances, butanol is quickly metabolized to carbon dioxide.It has not been shown to damage DNA or cause cancer.
Butanol is considered as a potential
biofuel( butanol fuel). Butanol at 85 percent strength can be used in cars designed for gasoline (petrol) without any change to the engine (unlike 85% ethanol), and it contains more energy for a given volume than ethanol and almost as much as gasoline, so a vehicle using butanol would return fuel consumption more comparable to gasoline than ethanol. Butanol can also be used as a blended additive to diesel fuel to reduce soot emissions. Fact|date=June 2008
Butanol sees use as a
solventfor a wide variety of chemical and textile processes, in organic synthesis and as a chemical intermediate. It is also used as a paint thinnerand 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. [ [http://www.chemicalland21.com/petrochemical/ISO-BUTANOL.htm Isobutanol at chemicalland21.com] ]
It is also used as a base for
perfumes, but on its own has a highly alcoholic aroma. Salts of butanol are chemical intermediates for example alkali metalsalts of tert-butanol are tert-butoxides.
Since the 1950s, most butanol in the
United Statesis produced commercially from fossil fuels. The most common process starts with propene, which is run through an hydroformylationreaction to form butanal, which is then reduced with hydrogento butanol. Butanol can also be produced by fermentation of biomassby 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.
*"Merck Index", 12th Edition, 1575.
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