Acetic Acid is a corrosive, flammable, liquid organic compound with the chemical formula C2H4O2. Its CAS number is 64-19-7. After formic acid, acetic acid is the second simplest carboxylic acid. The acetyl group, which is derived from acetic acid, is fundamental to the biochemistry of virtually all life forms.
Acetic acid is produced naturally when excreted by certain bacteria such as Acetobacter genus and Clostridium acetobutylicum. These bacteria are found in foodstuffs, water, and soil. Acetic acid is also produced naturally when fruits and other foods spoil.
Industrially, acetic acid is produced both synthetically and by bacterial fermentation. Approximately 75% of acetic acid used in the chemical industry is made by the carbonylation of methanol. The biologic method accounts for only 10% of world production, but is important for the manufacture of vinegar because many food purity laws require vinegar used in food to be of biological origin.
Most acetic acid is made by methanol carbonylation, where methanol and carbon monoxide react to produce acetic acid. The compound is miscible with ethanol, ethyl ether, acetone, and benzene, and is soluble in carbon tetrachloride and carbon disulfide.
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