1,4-Butanediol: Properties, Uses, and Handling

1,4-Butanediol is an organic compound, also known as BD or tetramethylene glycol. The IUPAC name of the chemical is butane-1,4-diol. Its formula and CAS number are C4H10O2 and 110-63-4 respectively. The substance is considered as one of four stable isomers of butanediol.


1,4-Butanediol can be either liquid or solid, depending on the temperature. It is colorless and almost odorless. Liquid is viscous and oily. It is miscible in water and soluble in ethanol.

The structure of the chemical looks as a straight chain glycol that has hydroxyl groups on both ends. The other characteristics of the substance are as follows:

  • Molar mass: 90.12 g·mol−1;
  • Density: 1.0171 g/cm3;
  • Melting point: 20.1 °C;
  • Boiling point: 235 °C;
  • Flash point: 121 °C.

Butane-1,4-diol is usually industrially synthesized in the course of reaction between acetylene and two equivalents of formaldehyde. This process gives 1,4-butynediol. The hydrogenation of this chemical results in 1,4-butanediol.

Application and Uses

Amon the most widespread industrial uses of this compound, one typically name its application as a solvent. Besides, it plays an important role in the manufacture of elastic fibers, certain types of plastic, and polyurethanes.

In organic chemistry, the compound often takes part in the synthesis of GBL (γ-butyrolactone). At the temperature about 200 °C with the soluble ruthenium catalysts, it forms butyrolactone. What’s more, at high temperature and in the presence of phosphoric acid, 1,4-butanediol dehydrates to tetrahydrofuran.

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Storage and Handling

The chemical is highly hygroscopic. Besides, it is degraded by oxygen. That is why it is recommended to keep it in container sealed with dry nitrogen. The recommended storage temperature is 12 – 40 °C.

1,4-Butanediol is classified as a hazardous material with low volatility and fire risk. This chemical is considered relatively safe, but when handling it, it is advised to wear personal protective equipment:

  • eyeshields,
  • face shields,
  • respirator,

The compound is toxic if swallowed. It may cause drowsiness, dizziness, or more serious consequences, depending on the amount.

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