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diethyl ether

Product name diethyl ether
Synonyms ethyl ether
ethyl oxide
GOST no data
CAS 60-29-7

Diethyl ether is a colorless, volatile, extremely flammable liquid with a characteristic ether odor. It is fully miscible in acetone, ethanol, methanol, benzene, toluene, xylenes, chloroform, hexane and most organic solvents. Diethyl ether is boundedly soluble in water (6.5% at 20°C) and forms azeotrope with it (98.75% of ether, bp = 34.15°C). Diethyl ether exhibits most of chemical properties aliphatic ethers. It forms relatively stable complexes with Lewis acids (etherates), e.g. boron trifluoride etherate, which is used as a catalyst. Diethyl ether is inclined to explosive peroxide formation upon storage. Ether peroxides are higher boiling and are contact explosives when dry. Ether should never be distilled to dryness to prevent detonation. Commercial diethyl ether is typically supplied with hydroquinone or BHT (2,6-di-tert-butyl-4-methylphenol), which inhibits the formation of peroxides. Storage over NaOH precipitates the intermediate ether hydroperoxides. Diethyl ether is a well-known anesthetic.


Industrially diethyl ether is produced as a by-product of ethanol synthesis from ethylene. Hydratation of ethanol is conducted at 65-75°C and 2.5MPa in the presence of phosphoric acid or 96-98% sulfuric acid:

CH2=CH2 + H2O --> C2H5OH
CH2=CH2 + H2SO4 --> CH3CH2OSO2OH (ethyl sulfate formation)

Mainly, diethyl ether forms upon ethyl sulfates hydrolysis at 90-100°C and 0.2Mpa with small amount of water. The total ether yield is up to 7% counting on passed ethylene.

2CH3CH2OSO2OH + H2O --> (C2H5)2O + 2H2SO4


  • as a solvent for cellulose nitrates, e.g. for smokeless gunpowder (pyroxylin) production;
  • as a reaction and common solvent in laboratory and industrial chemical syntheses;
  • as a solvent for animal and vegetable fat, natural and artificial resins, natural rubber, alcaloids;
  • as an extracting agent in separation of plutonium and fission products;
  • for isolation of uranium form ores;
  • as a component of anestetic compositions in surgery;
  • as a starting fluid for diesel and gasoline engines;

  • Manufacturer(s) no data
    Chemical structure of diethyl ether

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