Molecule of the Week

Glyoxal

April 2, 2012

Glyoxal, the simplest dialdehyde, was first prepared by N. Lubawin in 1875, when he oxidized acetaldehyde with HNO3 or H2SeO3. The HNO3 method is still used commercially, along with metal-catalyzed gas-phase oxidation of ethylene glycol. At low temperatures, glyoxal forms yellow crystals; it melts at 15 °C and boils at 51 °C. Its low flash point (–4 °C) makes its green vapor explosive in air. It’s used chiefly in paper coating and textile finishing processes.

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