Tetrahydrofuran (THF) is an organic heterocyclic compound, known to the chemists under multiple names. Its preferred IUPAC name is oxolane, the systematic IUPAC names are 1,4-epoxybutane and oxacyclopentane. Besides, the substance is sometimes called butylene oxide, cyclotetramethylene oxide, diethylene oxide, or tetra-methylene oxide. Tetrahydrofuran is a versatile solvent with CAS number 109-99-9 and chemical formula C4H8O.
Physical and Chemical Properties
THF is a colorless liquid of low viscosity. Its odor is similar to diethyl ether. This is a substance of high solubility, fully miscible with water, alcohols, ketones, esters, hydrocarbons, and ethers. As to the other properties, they are following:
- THF density is 0.8892 g/cm3 at 20 °C;
- The melting point is −108.4 °C;
- The boiling point is 66 °C;
- The molecular weight is 72.107 g/mol.
The compound is very flammable and light sensitive. If exposed to air and light, THF may auto-oxidize and form resinous products. Besides, if kept in contact with air, it may decompose into carbon monoxide and explosive peroxides. In consideration of the above, this chemical should be stored in steel drums or dark glass bottles tightly sealed in well-ventilated cool dark place. While handling the solvent, the chemist should wear nitrile or neoprene rubber gloves, since tetrahydrofuran is not only corrosive to human tissues, but can also dissolve latex.
The main application of the compound is as an industrial solvent for varnishes and PVC. It is used as co-solvent in aqueous solutions for production of renewable platform chemicals and sugars. The substance is applied as a solvent in 3D printing and for reversed-phase liquid chromatography. Besides, it is used as an intermediate in organic synthesis, and is considered as a popular solvent for organometallic compounds and hydroboration reactions.
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