Methanal

An essay outlying the uses of Methanal in our society.

Methanal

Methanal or better know by most people as formaldehyde is a crucial part of our everyday lives whether we know it or not.  The most well known use of formaldehyde is as a preservative.  Many people remember dissecting formaldehyde persevered specimens in high school biology. But methanol is also used in the manufacturing of countless other products from lipstick to adhesives1. 

Figure 1 shows the structural formula of methanal. This diagram does not show the centre single carbon but where all of the bonds meet is a carbon2.

Methanol was discovered in 1859 by Aleksandr Butlerov3.  But it was not purified until the Germans did it in 18922. Being able to purify the chemical made it much more useful. Today methanal is produced commercially by oxidizing methanol4. As seen in figure 2.

Figure 2 shows the oxidation of methanol to turn it into methanal. NAD+ is an oxidizer and ADH is used as a catalyst5.

The production of methanal and manufacturing uses of methanal has had a great effect on our economy. The “production of formaldehyde and formaldehyde-containing goods accounts for more than five percent of the yearly United States Gross National Product (GNP) -or about $500 billion dollars6.” Methanal is hard to find in its pure form, but many manufactures need pure methanal to make their product. To solve this problem there are many places that produce methanal. In Canada alone there are 10 locations that make methanal6.

Methanal has a great number of uses and is often used in unexpected places, such as in the glue that holds up paneling in homes.  Studies have come out recently that show that over exposure to methanal can cause cancer in animals7.  The effect on humans is still unknown but it is highly likely that methanal could cause some forms of cancer7.  If this is the case methanal might have a larger impact on our future than we once thought. Methanal is used in so many things that one of the future jobs related to methanal will be to find a substitution for it.

Methanal has had a great impact on our society and will continue to have an effect well into the future.  Whether by finding ways to replace it or making it safer for humans methanal will have a continued importance in our every day lives. 

References

1. The Formaldehyde Council, Inc, (2004). About formaldehyde common uses in everyday life.

Retrieved September 25, 2008, from Formaldehyde council Web site: http://www.formaldehyde.org/about_common.html

2. Harrison, K (1998, 07). Methanal. Retrieved September 25, 2008, from Formaldehyde @

3Dchem.com Web site: http://www.3dchem.com/molecules.asp?ID=101#

3. N, A (2005). Aldehydes. Retrieved September 25, 2008, from Book Rags Web site:

http://www.bookrags.com/research/aldehydes-woc/

4. Gadwood, R (2008). Formaldehyde. Retrieved September 25, 2008, from World Book Online

Reference Center Web site: http://www.worldbookonline.com/wb/article?id=ar205060&st=formaldehyde

5. Britannica, Retrieved September 25, 2008, Web site: http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-

media/12/16812-004-95EAC647.gif

6. Formaldehyde Council, Inc., (2005, 01). Formaldehyde. Retrieved September 25, 2008, Web

site: http://formaldehyde.org/EconomicBackground.pdf

7. MFL Occupational Health Centre, Inc., (1994.09 ). MFL Occupational Health Centre, Inc..

Retrieved September 25, 2008, from Formaldehyde Web site: http://www.mflohc.mb.ca/fact_sheets_folder/formaldehyde.html

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