Before understanding anything about formic acid let us understand what is an acid. An acid is any chemical compound that releases a considerable amount of H+ ions in an aqueous solution. To test the acidic or basic nature of any compound you can either use an acid-base indicator or litmus paper. Now coming to formic Acid, formic Acid belongs to the carboxylic acid group. It is the first member of the carboxylic acid group and is written as HCOOH, also called methanoic acid. As we see in the formula, the acid contains a single carbon atom, 2 oxygen atoms, and 2 hydrogen atoms.
Formic Acid Structure
The structure of formic Acid is simple since it is the first carboxylic Acid of the series and it contains a single carbon atom, which gives it the name of methanoic acid. The structure involves a carbon atom having a single bond with hydrogen, a double bond with oxygen, and another single bond with oxygen which is in turn bonded with a hydrogen atom. You can notice the same in the image below, it represents formic Acid structure HCOOH.
(Image to be added soon)
Physical Properties of HCOOH
The IUPAC name of Formic acid is Methanoic acid, as we've seen earlier. It is the first member of the homologous series of carboxylic acids. So we've now seen the structure and IUPAC name of Formic acid.
Formic acid in appearance is like a thick transparent liquid and by its looks, it is impossible to identify it.
The melting point of formic acid is not very high. Formic acid melting point is merely 8.4°C.
The boiling point of Formic acid is a little over that of water. The boiling point of formic acid is 100.8°C.
Formic acid isn't a very dense liquid and has a low density of 1.22g/cm³.
Since formic acid is the first member of the homologous series, the molecular weight of the acid isn't very high as well. The molecular weight of Methanoic acid is 46.03 g/mol.
Formic acid has a characteristic pungent and irritating odour.
It is soluble and miscible with water.
Chemical Properties of Formic Acid
Formic acid as the name suggests is acidic and is capable of turning blue litmus into red litmus.
Formic acid is a Hydrogen bond donor
Formic acid contains carbon and carbon forms of covalent bonds in most cases. In formic acid as well, carbon forms all covalent bonds. Formic acid contains only covalent bonds.
Formic acid is capable of reducing mercuric chloride into mercurous chloride which results in a white precipitate. The equation to the reaction is given below
HCOOH + 2HgCl2 → Hg2Cl2 + 2HCl + CO2
HCOOH + PCl5 → HCOCl + POCl3 + HCl
Methods of Manufacturing Formic Acid
By reacting methyl formate with formamide
Upon the reaction of methanol and carbon monoxide in the presence of a strong base, methyl formate is formed. The chemical reaction to the above-mentioned method is given below
CH3OH + CO → HCO2CH3
The method is also used in industries, the reaction is performed under special conditions. Typical conditions for the feasible progress of the reaction are
80 °C temperature
40 atm pressure
The most commonly used base in this process is sodium methoxide.
Hydrolysis of the obtained methyl formate gives our desired compound as the main product. Along with this we also get certain byproducts. The reaction of the hydrolysis goes as follows
HCO2CH3 + NH3 → HC(O)NH2 + CH3OH
2 HC(O)NH2 + 2H2O + H2SO4 → 2HCO2H + (NH4)2SO4
However, the above-mentioned procedure has a disadvantage. We need to dispose of the ammonium sulfate which is a by-product of the reaction. Disposing of this is a tedious process as the chemical is hazardous and can do great harm to the environment. This has caused many manufacturers problems since several governments have banned the disposal of chemicals into the environment to protect it.