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The Manufacture of Synthetic Phenol

from Benzol by Sulphonation

Synthetic Phenol (Carbolic Acid), its uses, the raw materials, and the necessary Apparatus and Equipment for its pro

duction on a commercial basis


GEORGE H. STEVENS, Chemical Engineer

845 Broad Street Newark, N. J., U. S. A.


Copyrighted 1916 by Geo. H. Stevens, Newark, N. J.


A copy of this pamphlet will be mailed, upon request, to any address free of charge and postage prepaid.

The author only asks in return that you state your business or profession, so that he may know the particular line of interest.

Chemists and Engineers are especially invited to send for it.

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These are the several designations that are given to this product, which was discovered by Runge in 1834 (Pogg. Ann., XXI 69, XXX 308), who called it Carbon Oil Acid, or Carbolic Acid.

Phenol is the type of a whole class of bodies which stand, as it were, midway between Alcohols and Acids.

The Phenols form a class by themselves, and are those Aromatic compounds in which the Hydrogen atoms of Benzene nuclei are replaced by Hydroxyl (O H). The Hydrogen of the latter is easily replaced by Metals or Alcoholic Radicals, but the other characteristics of a real acid are absent.

Carbolic Acid is generally obtained from Coal Tar, and principally from the Carbolic oil fraction 210° to 240° or 250° C. This fraction is treated with Caustic Alkalies, in which the Phenol dissolves. The alkaline solution is then decomposed by the addition of a mineral acid and the Phenol is released.

Phenol is also obtained from the light oils (110° to 210° C.), but all the Phenol thus recovered from the fractional distillation of Coal Tar contains water, resinous matter, Cresols and other Phenols, and must be repeatedly distilled and refined be fore it finally becomes a pure product.

Phenol is a colorless, crystalline mass. The crystals when pure are long, colorless prisms. It is hygroscopic, has a characteristic odor, hot, burning and sweet taste, and poisonous and antiseptic properties.

It is volatile with steam. Ferric salts impart a violet color to its neutral solutions, and when Phenol is fused, it is as limpid as water and perfectly colorless.

Phenol is a weak acid (Walker, Phys. Chem., Chap. XXIV), which is shown by Carbonic Acid easily decomposing its Sodium Salt.


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The nitration of Phenols furnishes Nitro-Phenols which can be converted into Amido-Phenols by reduction.

Laurent in 1841 obtained it pure and gave it the names Hydrate de Phenyle or Acide Phenique, from a Greek word meaning to illuminate, probably because it occurs in the Tar, produced in the manufacture of illuminating gas.

Gerhardt, who prepared Carbolic Acid from Salicylic Acid, introduced the name Phenol, indicating thereby that it was an Alcohol.

In 1867 Lister showed its great importance in surgery as a disinfectant.

Phenol is highly poisonous, and has a strong caustic action on the skin, quickly causing blisters, it also causes the skin to harden or shrink.

A remedy for the pain and bad effects of Phenol blisters is fatty oil.

Internally its poisonous properties are shown in its corrosive action upon the epithelium and its property of coagulating Albumen. It appears to act on the nervous system by paralyzing the nerve centers.

According to Allen, even a momentary contact of strong acid with an extensive surface of the lower part of the body is mostly fatal, but it has comparatively little effect upon the arms.

When weak solutions of Phenol are applied to the skin, for any length of time, a surface paralysis of the nerves, or numbness, results a few hours afterwards. This exceedingly painful feeling lasts for many hours, and the skin becomes as sensitive as though blistered, and yet may show no trace of irritation whatever.

In a few days time the condition will generally disappear.

The poisonous action of Phenol is given by Bokorny (Chem. Zeit. 1906, 554).

Strong Phenol dissolves Gelatin completely, but coagulates it when added to its aqueous solutions.

The unpleasant odor of Carbolic Acid can be entirely masked by a little Oil of Geranium.

Phenol forms true salts. An atom of Hydrogen is replaced by an atom of a monovalent metal. (Wahl and Atack, Manufacture of Organic Dyestuffs, 1914).

The Sodium salt is called Sodium Carbolate, Sodium Phenolate, or Sodium Phenate, or Phenoxide.

Most of the salts of Phenol are readily soluble in water, and are far more stable than their corresponding Alcoholates.

Indigo blue (Indigotin) is soluble in hot Phenol and may

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