Acetone cyanohydrin

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Acetone cyanohydrin
Skeletal formula of acetone cyanohydrin
Ball and stick model of acetone cyanohydrin
Spacefill model of acetone cyanohydrin
IUPAC name
Other names


3D model (JSmol)
3DMet B00479
ECHA InfoCard 100.000.828
EC Number 200-909-4
MeSH acetone+cyanohydrin
RTECS number OD9275000
UN number 1541
Molar mass 85.11 g·mol−1
Appearance Colourless liquid
Density 932 mg mL−1
Melting point −21.2 °C; −6.3 °F; 251.9 K
Boiling point 95 °C (203 °F; 368 K)
Vapor pressure 2 kPa (at 20 °C)
−121.7–−120.1 kJ mol−1
−2.4514–−2.4498 MJ mol−1
Safety data sheet
GHS pictograms The skull-and-crossbones pictogram in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) The environment pictogram in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)
GHS signal word DANGER
H300, H310, H330, H410
P260, P273, P280, P284, P301+310
NFPA 704
Flammability code 1: Must be pre-heated before ignition can occur. Flash point over 93 °C (200 °F). E.g., canola oilHealth code 4: Very short exposure could cause death or major residual injury. E.g., VX gasReactivity code 2: Undergoes violent chemical change at elevated temperatures and pressures, reacts violently with water, or may form explosive mixtures with water. E.g., phosphorusSpecial hazards (white): no codeNFPA 704 four-colored diamond
Flash point 75 °C (167 °F; 348 K)
Explosive limits 2.25–11%
Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):
  • 15.8 mg kg−1 (dermal, rabbit)
  • 18.65 mg kg−1 (oral, rat)
US health exposure limits (NIOSH):
PEL (Permissible)
REL (Recommended)
C 1 ppm (4 mg/m3) [15-minute][1]
IDLH (Immediate danger)
Related compounds
Related alkanenitriles
Related compounds
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Infobox references

Acetone cyanohydrin (ACH) is an organic compound used in the production of methyl methacrylate, the monomer of the transparent plastic polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), also known as acrylic. It is extremely toxic.

Preparation and use[edit]

In the laboratory, this compound may be prepared by treating sodium cyanide with acetone, followed by acidification:[3]

Synthesis of acetone cyanohydrin.png

Considering the high toxicity of acetone cyanohydrin, a lab scale production has been developed using microreactor technology.[4] Alternatively, a simplified procedure involves the action of sodium or potassium cyanide on the sodium bisulfite adduct of acetone prepared in situ. This gives a less pure product that is suitable for most syntheses.[5]


It is used as a surrogate in place of HCN, as illustrated by this synthesis of lithium cyanide: [6]

(CH3)2C(OH)CN + LiH → (CH3)2CO + LiCN + H2

In transhydrocyanation, an equivalent of HCN is transferred from acetone cyanohydrin to another acceptor. The transfer is an equilibrium process, initiated by base. The reaction can be driven by trapping reactions or by the use of a superior HCN acceptor, such as an aldehyde.[7]

Acetone cyanohydrin is an intermediate en route to methyl methacrylate. Treated with sulfuric acid give the sulfate ester of the methacrylamide, methanolysis of which gives ammonium bisulfate and MMA.[8]

Natural occurrence[edit]

Cassava tubers contain linamarin, a glucoside of acetohydrin, and the enzyme linamarinase for hydrolysing the glucoside. Crushing the tubers releases these compounds and produces acetone cyanohydrin.


Acetone cyanohydrin is classified as an extremely hazardous substance in the US Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. The principal hazards of acetone cyanohydrin arise from its ready decomposition on contact with water, which releases highly toxic hydrogen cyanide.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards #0005". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 
  2. ^ "acetone cyanohydrin - Compound Summary". PubChem Compound. USA: National Center for Biotechnology Information. 16 September 2004. Identification. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Cox, R. F. B.; Stormont, R. T. "Acetone Cyanohydrin". Organic Syntheses. ; Collective Volume, 2, p. 7 
  4. ^ Heugebaert, Thomas S. A.; Roman, Bart I.; De Blieck, Ann; Stevens, Christian V. (2010-08-11). "A safe production method for acetone cyanohydrin". Tetrahedron Letters. 51 (32): 4189–4191. doi:10.1016/j.tetlet.2010.06.004. 
  5. ^ Wagner, E. C.; Baizer, Manuel. "5,5-Dimethylhydantoin". Organic Syntheses. ; Collective Volume, 3, p. 323 
  6. ^ Tom Livinghouse (1981). "Trimethylsilyl Cyanide: Cyanosilylation of p-Benzoquinone". Org. Synth. 60: 126. doi:10.15227/orgsyn.060.0126. 
  7. ^ Serkos A. Haroutounian (2001). "Acetone Cyanohydrin". eEROS. doi:10.1002/047084289X.ra014. 
  8. ^ Bauer, Jr., William (2002). "Methacrylic Acid and Derivatives". Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH. doi:10.1002/14356007.a16_441. ISBN 3-527-30673-0. .

External links[edit]