|Jmol-3D images||Image 1|
|Molar mass||60.05 g mol−1|
|Melting point||−100 °C; −148 °F; 173 K|
|Boiling point||32 °C; 90 °F; 305 K|
|EU classification||Highly flammable (F+); Harmful (Xn)|
| (what is: / ?)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)
Methyl formate, also called methyl methanoate, is the methyl ester of formic acid. The simplest example of an ester, it is a clear liquid with an ethereal odour, high vapor pressure, and low surface tension.
This process, practiced commercially by BASF among other companies gives 96% selectivity toward methyl formate, although it can suffer from catalyst sensitivity to water, which can be present in the carbon monoxide feedstock, commonly derived from synthesis gas. Very dry carbon monoxide is, therefore, an essential requirement.
Methyl formate is used primarily to manufacture formamide, dimethylformamide, and formic acid. Because of its high vapor pressure, it is used for quick-drying finishes. It is also used as an insecticide and to manufacture certain pharmaceuticals. Foam Supplies, Inc. has trademarked Ecomate, which is used as a blowing agent for foam insulation, as a replacement for CFC, HCFC, or HFCs, with zero ozone depletion potential and <25 global warming potential.
A historical use of methyl formate, which sometimes brings it attention, was in refrigeration. Before the introduction of less-toxic refrigerants, methyl formate was used as an alternative to sulfur dioxide in domestic refrigerators, such as some models of the famous GE Monitor Top. Owners of methyl formate refrigerators should keep in mind that, even though they operate below atmospheric pressure, if evidence of a leak develops, they should take measures to avoid exposure to the ether-smelling liquid and vapor.
- Process Economics Reports, Review 88-1-1, Process Economics Program, SRI Consulting, California, 1999
- W. Couteau, J. Ramioulle, US Patent US4216339
- United Nations Environment Program Rigid and Flexible Foams Technical Options Committee 2006 Assessment report. http://ozone.unep.org/teap/Reports/FTOC/ftoc_assessment_report06.pdf