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Acetonitrile
Jan 03, 2019

What is acetonitrile? 

Acetonitrile is a toxic, colorless liquid with an ether-like odor and a sweet, burnt taste. It is an extremely dangerous substance and must be handled with caution as it can cause severe health effects and/or death. It is also known as cyanomethane, ethyl nitrile, ethanenitrile, methanecarbonitrile, acetronitrile cluster and methyl cyanide.

Acetonitrile is easily ignited by heat, sparks or flames and gives off highly toxic hydrogen cyanide fumes when heated. It dissolves easily in water. It can react with water, steam or acids to produce flammable vapors that can form explosive mixtures when exposed to air. The vapors are heavier than air and can travel to low or confined areas. Containers of the liquid can explode when heated. 

How is acetonitrile used? 

Acetonitrile is predominantly used as a solvent in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, for spinning fibers and for casting and molding of plastic materials, in lithium batteries, for the extraction of fatty acids from animal and vegetable oils, and in chemical laboratories for the detection of materials such as pesticide residues.

Acetonitrile is also used in dyeing textiles and in coating compositions as a stabilizer for chlorinated solvents and in perfume production as a chemical intermediate. 

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