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(organic chemistry)
C2H2O A colorless, toxic, highly reactive gas, with disagreeable taste; boils at -56°C; soluble in ether and acetone, and decomposes in water and alcohol; used as an acetylating agent in organic synthesis.



carbomethene, the first member of the ketene series (RR’C=C=0), the unsaturated, highly reactive organic compound CH2=C=0.

Ketene is a gas (boiling point, 41°C; melting point, 134.6°C) and serves as an effective acetylizing agent; acetylation products form upon the reaction of ketene with compounds containing a mobile hydrogen atom (for example, alcohols, thiols, amines, and acids):


Ketene combines readily with water to form acetic acid and ketones. For example, dimethyl-β-propiolactone is obtained from ketene and acetone:

Ketene is stable at –80°C. At 0°C it readily undergoes dimerization to form diketene (methylene-β-propiolactone)

from which ketene can be regenerated by pyrolysis at 550°-600°C. Ketene is similar to phosgene in terms of toxicity.

The industrial preparation of ketene involves the pyrolysis of acetic acid in the presence of triethyl phosphate or the pyrolysis of acetone over alumina. The common method of synthesizing ketene and other compounds of the ketene series consists in the separation of halogens from the acid halides of α-halocarboxylic acids:

RR’CX—COX→ RR’C = C = 0 + ZnX2

(X being a halogen atom)

Ketene is easily obtained in the laboratory by the pyrolysis of acetone or acetic anhydride in a special apparatus called a ketene lamp.

Ketene is used in industry for converting acetic acid to anhydride, preparing acetylcellulose, and synthesizing propiolactone.


Lacey, R. N. “Keten ν organicheskom sinteze.” In the book Uspekhi organicheskoi khimii, vol. 2. Moscow, 1964. Page 204. (Translated from English.)


References in periodicals archive ?
In the integrated production system, acetic acid is converted first into ketene, then into isopropenyl acetate and finally to acetylacetone.
Internal Sizing II: Alkaline Ketene Dimer Sizes (AKD).
115, 9253 (1993), The Rotational Spectrum and Structure of a Weakly Bound Complex of Ketene and Acetylene.
Ettl, "On the Mechanism of Sizing with Alkyl Ketene Dimer (AKD): Physico-Chemical Aspects of AKD Retention and Sizing Efficiency," in "Fundamentals of Papermaking Materials," Trans.
454 kg), assuming a ketene step is used in the process.
What is the effect on alkyl ketene dimer (AKD) sizing when aspen high-yield pulp is substituted for hardwood kraft pulp?
Brisson C, Brassard P (1981) Regiospecific reactions of some vinylogous ketene acetals with haloquinones and their regioselective formation by dienolization.
Synthesis of optically active [alpha]-hydroxy carbonyl compounds by the catalytic enantioselective oxidation of silyl enol ethers and ketene acetals with (salen)manganese(III) complexes.
Reactions of a Steroidal ab-Unsaturated Aldehyde with Some O-Silylated Ketene Acetals, Tetrahedron.
As the temperature rises in the end of decomposition, a radical chain scission reaction produces the release of carbon monoxide, methylketene, and ketene [39].
Yilmaz, G, Kumbaraci, V, Talinli, N, Tatar, P, Demirel, AL, Yagci, Y, "Photoinduced Grafting of Polystyrene onto Silica Particles by Ketene Chemistry.
Kemira Oyj and Wilmar International Limited announced on November 1, 2013 the signing of a joint venture agreement between the subsidiaries of Kemira and Wilmar ("JVA") for the manufacture of AKD (alkyl ketene dimer) wax in China.