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Skeletal formula of propanenitrile
Skeletal formula of propanenitrile with all explicit hydrogens added
Ball and stick model of propanenitrile
IUPAC name
Other names
  • 107-12-0 YesY
3D model (JSmol)
  • Interactive image
  • CHEBI:26307
  • ChEMBL15871 No
  • 7566 YesY
ECHA InfoCard 100.003.151
EC Number 203-464-4
MeSH propionitrile
PubChem CID
  • 7854
RTECS number UF9625000
  • E16N05FX3S YesY
UN number 2404
Molar mass 55.08 g·mol−1
Appearance Colourless liquid
Odor sweetish, pleasant, ethereal[6]
Density 772 mg mL−1
Melting point −100 to −86 °C; −148 to −123 °F; 173 to 187 K
Boiling point 96 to 98 °C; 205 to 208 °F; 369 to 371 K
11.9% (20 °C)[6]
log P 0.176
Vapor pressure 270 μmol Pa−1 kg−1
-38.5·10−6 cm3/mol
105.3 J K−1 mol−1
189.33 J K−1 mol−1
15.5 kJ mol−1
−1.94884–−1.94776 MJ mol−1
GHS pictograms The flame pictogram in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) The skull-and-crossbones pictogram in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)
GHS signal word DANGER
H225, H300, H310, H319, H332
P210, P264, P280, P301+310, P302+350, P305+351+338
Flash point 6 °C (43 °F; 279 K)
Explosive limits 3.1%-?[6]
Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):
LD50 (median dose)
39 mg kg−1 (oral, rat)
US health exposure limits (NIOSH):
PEL (Permissible)
REL (Recommended)
TWA 6 ppm (14 mg/m3)[6]
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).
No verify (what is YesYNo ?)
Infobox references

Propionitrile, also known as ethyl cyanide and propanenitrile, is an organic compound with the formula CH3CH2CN. It is a simple aliphatic nitrile. The compound is a colourless, water-soluble liquid. It is used as a solvent and a precursor to other organic compounds.[7]


The main industrial route to this nitrile is the hydrogenation of acrylonitrile. It is also prepared by the ammoxidation of propanol (propionaldehyde can also be used instead):[7]

CH3CH2CH2OH + O2 + NH3 → CH3CH2CN + 3 H2O

Propionitrile is a byproduct of the electrodimerisation of acrylonitrile to adiponitrile.

In the laboratory propanenitrile can also be produced by the dehydration of propionamide, by catalytic reduction of acrylonitrile, or by distilling ethyl sulfate and potassium cyanide.


Propionitrile is a solvent similar to acetonitrile but with a slightly higher boiling point. It is a precursor to propylamines by hydrogenation. It is a C-3 building block in the preparation of the drug flopropione by the Houben-Hoesch reaction.


Propanenitrile is poisonous but weakly with an LD50 of 230 mg/kg (rats, oral).[7] Propanenitrile has been determined to be teratogenic due to the metabolic release of cyanide.[8]

In 1979, the Kalama (Vega) plant in Beaufort, South Carolina experienced an explosion during the production of propanenitrile by nickel-catalyzed reduction of acrylonitrile.[9] This site is now one of the two Superfund cleanup sites in South Carolina.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Propionitrile". NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. USA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 4 April 2011. Identification. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Merck Index, 11th Edition, 7839
  3. ^ CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 52nd Ed., p. D-153
  4. ^ HSDB: Propionitrile, TOXNET, U.S. National Library of Medicine, retrieved 30 Oct 2015
  5. ^ "propionitrile - Compound Summary". PubChem Compound. USA: National Center for Biotechnology Information. 26 March 2005. Identification. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards #0530". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 
  7. ^ a b c Peter Pollak, Gérard Romeder, Ferdinand Hagedorn, Heinz-Peter Gelbke "Nitriles" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry 2002, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi:10.1002/14356007.a17_363
  8. ^ Willhite, Calvin C.; Ferm, Vergil H.; Smith, Roger P. (1981). "Teratogenic effects of aliphatic nitriles". Teratology. 23 (3): 317–323. doi:10.1002/tera.1420230306. PMID 6266064. 
  9. ^ a b First Five-Year Review Report for Kalama Specialty Chemicals, Beaufort, Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States Environmental Protection Agency

External links

  • NIST Chemistry WebBook for C3H5N
  • CDC - NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards
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