Naphthalene, also known as naphthalin, bicyclo[4.4.0]deca-1,3,5,7,9-pentene or antimite is a crystalline, aromatic, white, solid hydrocarbon with formula C10H8 and the structure of two fused benzene rings. It is best known as the traditional (and on eof the two modern) primary ingredient(s) of mothballs. (The other is para-dichlorobenzene.) It is volatile, forming a flammable vapor, and readily sublimes at room temperature, producing a characteristic odor that is detectable at concentrations as low as 0.08 ppm by mass.
In 1819–1820, at least two chemists reported a white solid with a pungent odor derived from the distillation of coal tar. In 1821, John Kidd described many of this substance's properties and the means of its production, and proposed the name naphthaline, as it had been derived from a kind of naphtha (a broad term encompassing any volatile, flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixture, including coal tar). Naphthaline's chemical formula was determined by Michael Faraday in 1826. The structure of two fused benzene rings was proposed by Emil Erlenmeyer in 1866, and confirmed by Carl Gräbe three years later.
Structure and reactivity
A naphthalene molecule is derived by the fusion of a pair of benzene rings. (In organic chemistry, rings are fused if they share two or more atoms.) Accordingly, naphthalene is classified as a benzenoid polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH). There are two sets of equivalent hydrogen atoms: the alpha positions are positions 1, 4, 5, and 8 on the drawing below, and the beta positions are positions 2, 3, 6, and 7.
Unlike benzene, the carbon-carbon bonds in naphthalene are not of the same length. The bonds C1–C2, C3–C4, C5–C6 and C7–C8 are about 1.36 Å (136 pm) in length, whereas the other carbon-carbon bonds are about 1.42 Å (142 pm) long. This difference, which was established by x-ray diffraction, is consistent with the valence bond model of bonding in naphthalene that involves three resonance structures (as shown below); whereas the bonds C1–C2, C3–C4, C5–C6 and C7–C8 are double in two of the three structures, the others are double in only one.
Most naphthalene is derived from coal tar. From the 1960s until the 1990s, significant amounts of naphthalene were also produced from heavy petroleum fractions during petroleum refining, but today petroleum-derived naphthalene represents only a minor component of naphthalene production.
Naphthalene is the most abundant single component of coal tar. Although the composition of coal tar varies with the coal from which it is produced, typical coal tar is about 10% naphthalene by weight. In industrial practice, distillation of coal tar yields an oil containing about 50% naphthalene, along with a variety of other aromatic compounds. This oil, after being washed with aqueous sodium hydroxide to remove acidic components (chiefly various phenols), and with sulfuric acid to remove basic components, undergoes fractional distillation to isolate naphthalene. The crude naphthalene resulting from this process is about 95% naphthalene by weight, often referred to as 78°C (melting point). The chief impurities are the sulfur-containing aromatic compound benzothiophene (<2%), indane (0.2%), indene (<2%), and methylnapthalene (<2%). Petroleum-derived naphthalene is usually purer than that derived from coal tar. Where required, crude naphthalene can be further purified by recrystallization from any of a variety of solvents, resulting in 99% naphthalene by weight, referred to as 80 °C (melting point). Approximately 1M tons are produced annually.[
As a chemical intermediate
Naphthalene is mainly used as a precursor to other chemicals. The single largest use of naphthalene is the industrial production of phthalic anhydride, although more phthalic anhydride is made from o-xylene. Other naphthalene-derived chemicals include alkyl naphthalene sulfonate surfactants, and the insecticide 1-naphthyl-N-methylcarbamate (carbaryl). Naphthalenes substituted with combinations of strongly electron-donating functional groups, such as alcohols and amines, and strongly electron-withdrawing groups, especially sulfonic acids, are intermediates in the preparation of many synthetic dyes. The hydrogenated naphthalenes tetrahydronaphthalene (tetralin) and decahydronaphthalene (decalin) are used as low-volatility solvents. Naphthalene is also used in the synthesis of 2-naphthol, a precursor for various dyestuffs, pigments, rubber processing chemicals and other miscellaneous chemicals and pharmaceuticals.[
Naphthalene sulfonic acids are used in the manufacture of naphthalene sulfonate polymer plasticizers (dispersants) which are used to produce concrete and plasterboard (wallboard or drywall). They are also used as dispersants in synthetic and natural rubbers, and as tanning agents (syntans) in leather industries, agricultural formulations (dispersants for pesticides), dyes and as a dispersant in lead-acid battery plates.