Acetonitrile - C2H3N

What is Acetonitrile?

Acetonitrile is a nitrile which is a hydrogen cyanide where the hydrogen (H) is replaced by a methyl group (-CH3). It is a volatile organic compound. It is also called Cyanomethane or Methanecarbonitrile. The chemical formula of Acetonitrile is C2H3N.

Cyanomethane is a limpid liquid which has no colour which has an aromatic odor. It has a flash point value of 42°F and is less dense when compared to water. Its vapors are denser when compared to air. Methanecarbonitrile has a burning sweetish taste and is readily soluble in water. It functions as a polar aprotic solvent and is an aliphatic nitrile.

Properties of Acetonitrile – C2H3N



Molecular Weight of Acetonitrile

41.053 g/mol

Density of of Acetonitrile

0.786 g/cm3

Melting Point of Acetonitrile

−46 to −44 °C

Boiling point of Acetonitrile

81.3 to 82.1 °C

Structure of Acetonitrile (C2H3N)

Uses of Acetonitrile (C2H3N)

  • Acetonitrile is used as a solvent in the extraction process of hydrocarbons.

  • It is used to separate fatty acid from vegetable oil.

  • Used in making perfumes.

  • It is widely used in the production of synthetic pharmaceuticals.

  • It is used in the manufacturing of rubber.

  • It is used in refining as well as extraction of copper.

  • Used as a solvent in electrochemical cells.

Preparation of Acetonitrile

It is obtained as a byproduct by manufacturing acrylonitrile. It can also be synthesized by hydrogenation of mixtures of ammonia and carbon monoxide or dehydration of acetamide.

Health Hazards

This compound is toxic through skin absorption. It is highly flammable and gives off toxic gases or fumes in a fire. Cyanomethane air or vapour mixtures are explosive. It can explode when it comes in contact with any strong oxidizing agent. It can burst due to rise in pressure when heated. Severe exposures can cause skin eruptions, delirium, paralysis, irritation, confusion, and convulsions.