Adipic Acid

TCC’s Adipic Acid is a mildly toxic, white, crystalline compound. The C6 straight-chain dicarboxylic acid is slightly soluble in water and soluble in alcohol and acetone. Nearly all commercial adipic acid is produced from cyclohexane.

Almost 90 percent of adipic acid produced is used in the production of nylon 66. The nylon, which has a protein-like structure, is further processed into fibers for applications in carpeting, automobile tire cord, and clothing. Adipic acid is also used to manufacture plasticizers and lubricant components.

Food grade adipic acid is used as a gelling aid, an acidulant, and as a leavening and buffering agent.

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Adipic acid is an organic compound with the formula (CH2)4(COOH)2. It is the most important of the dicarboxylic acids from the industrial perspective. Approximately 2.5 billion kilograms of this white crystalline powder are produced annually, predominantly as a precursor for the production of nylon 66. Adipic acid rarely occurs in nature.

Historically, adipic acid was prepared from various fats by oxidation. Currently, adipic acid is made from a mixture of cyclohexanone and cyclohexanol called “KA oil,” the abbreviation of “ketone-alcohol oil.” The KA oil is oxidized using nitric acid to produce adipic acid, via a multistep pathway. Early in the reaction, cyclohexane is converted to the ketone, which releases the nitrous acid.

Several methods have been developed by carbonylation of butadiene. For example, the hydrocarboxylation proceeds as follows:


A method has been reported that uses principles of green chemistry where water is the only by-product. Cyclohexene is oxidized with hydrogen peroxide using a tungstate-based catalyst and a phase transfer catalyst. Again, the only waste product is water.

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