Anhydrides: Types, Applications, and Synthesis


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An anhydride is a type of compound that is formed when two molecules of carboxylic acids react together and lose a molecule of water. Anhydrides are used in various applications such as in the manufacturing of acylated polymers, pharmaceuticals, and agrochemicals. For example, acetic anhydride is used in the production of cellulose acetate, which is used in the production of photographic film, eyeglass frames, and cigarette filters.

Anhydrides can be classified into two categories – symmetrical and mixed anhydrides. Symmetrical anhydrides are formed when two identical carboxylic acids react with each other. Examples of symmetrical anhydrides include acetic anhydride (formed from two molecules of acetic acid) and succinic anhydride (formed from two molecules of succinic acid). Mixed anhydrides, on the other hand, are formed when two different carboxylic acids react with each other. An example of a mixed anhydride is mixed anhydride of acetic and benzoic acid.

Anhydrides are generally unstable and react readily with water to produce carboxylic acids. They can also react with alcohols and amines to form esters and amides respectively. Anhydrides are often used in organic synthesis as acylating agents to introduce acyl groups into the molecules.

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