Nitromethane

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nitromethane

[¦nī·trō′meth‚ān]
(organic chemistry)
CH3NO2 A liquid nitroparaffin compound; oily and colorless; boils at 101°C; used as a monopropellant for rockets, in chemical synthesis, and as an industrial solvent for cellulosics, resins, waxes, fats, and dyestuffs.

Nitromethane

 

CH3NO2, the simplest aliphatic nitro compound; a colorless liquid with an odor of bitter almonds. Boiling point, 101.2°C; density, 1.138 g/cm3 (20°C).

Nitromethane is soluble in water and is miscible with ordinary organic solvents (except paraffins); it forms an azeotrope with water (boiling point, 83.6°C; 76.4 percent nitromethane). It condenses readily with aldehydes, ketones, and ethylene oxide. For example, the reaction with formaldehyde is

CH3NO2 + CH2O → HOCH2CH2NO2

In industry, nitromethane is usually produced by degradative nitration of propane. It is used mainly as a solvent (for example, for cellulose ester varnishes and vinyl polymers), for the extraction of aromatic hydrocarbons, and in the production of chloropicrin and a number of explosives. Nitromethane is poisonous; its maximum permissible concentration in the air in working areas is 0.01 percent.