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(CC12ᆖCHCl), a colorless liquid with an odor resembling that of chloroform. Boiling point, 87.2°C; density, 1.465 g/cm3 at 20°C.
Trichloroethylene is poorly soluble in water (0.11 g per 100 g at 25°C) and forms azeotropic mixtures with water (boiling point, 73.6°C; 5.4 percent water), methyl and ethyl alcohols, and acetic acid. Upon prolonged storage in the light, trichloroethylene is gradually oxidized by atmospheric oxygen to phosgene, COCl2. Upon exposure to concentrated nitric acid, trichloroethylene forms chloropicrin, CC13NO2, and other substances. The principal industrial method of obtaining trichloroethylene is the dehydrochlorination of symmetrical tetrachloroethane by boiling with lime or by pyrolysis at 400°–500°C.
Trichloroethylene has high dissolving power; it readily dissolves fats, waxes, resins, rubber, sulfur, and phosphorus. It also has a low boiling point and insignificant toxicity, and it is incombustible. Therefore, it is widely used in the removal of fat from fabrics and hides, the degreasing of metals, and the extraction of fats and oils from natural raw materials, as well as for dry-cleaning of clothing. The maximum permissible concentration of trichloroethylene fumes in the air is 0.05 mg per liter.