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acetaldehyde

acetaldehyde (ăsˌĭtălˈdəhĪd) [key] or ethanal ĕthˈənălˌ, CH3CHO, colorless liquid aldehyde, sometimes simply called aldehyde. It melts at - 123°C, boils at 20.8°C, and is soluble in water and ethanol. It is formed by the partial oxidation of ethanol; oxidation of acetaldehyde forms acetic acid. Acetaldehyde is made commercially by the oxidation of ethylene with a palladium catalyst (see Wacker process). It is used as a reducing agent (e.g., for silvering mirrors), in the manufacture of synthetic resins and dyestuffs, and as a preservative. When treated with a small amount of sulfuric acid it forms paraldehyde, (CH3CHO)3, a trimer, which is used as a hypnotic drug.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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