Deutsch: Carbonsäure / Español: Ácido carboxílico / Português: Ácido carboxílico / Français: Acide carboxylique / Italiano: Acido carbossilico

Carboxylic acid is an organic compound characterized by the presence of a carboxyl group (-COOH). In the industrial context, carboxylic acids are crucial for various applications, including the production of polymers, pharmaceuticals, and solvents.


In the industrial context, carboxylic acids are essential chemicals used in the manufacturing of a wide range of products. The general formula for a carboxylic acid is R-COOH, where "R" represents a variable alkyl or aryl group. The carboxyl group (-COOH) consists of a carbonyl group (C=O) and a hydroxyl group (OH) attached to the same carbon atom, making it highly reactive and versatile in chemical synthesis.

Carboxylic acids play a significant role in industry due to their reactivity, which allows them to participate in various chemical reactions, including esterification, amidation, and polymerization. Common carboxylic acids include acetic acid, citric acid, and benzoic acid, each with unique properties and applications.

Acetic acid is widely used as a chemical reagent and industrial solvent, particularly in the production of vinyl acetate monomer, which is a precursor to polyvinyl acetate and polyvinyl alcohol. Citric acid, a natural preservative, is commonly used in the food and beverage industry as a flavoring and chelating agent. Benzoic acid is utilized in the manufacture of preservatives, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.

The industrial production of carboxylic acids can be achieved through various methods, including the oxidation of aldehydes and alcohols, fermentation, and the carbonylation of alcohols.

Special Uses

Biodegradable Polymers: Carboxylic acids are used in the synthesis of biodegradable polymers, such as polylactic acid (PLA), which are important for reducing plastic waste and promoting sustainable materials.

Application Areas

  1. Polymer Production: Carboxylic acids are used as monomers and intermediates in the synthesis of polymers, such as polyesters and polyamides, which are used in textiles, packaging, and engineering plastics.
  2. Pharmaceuticals: They serve as building blocks for various drugs and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), playing a key role in drug formulation and synthesis.
  3. Food and Beverage: Carboxylic acids like citric acid and acetic acid are used as preservatives, flavor enhancers, and acidulants.
  4. Cosmetics and Personal Care: They are used in the formulation of skincare products, such as exfoliants, moisturizers, and preservatives.
  5. Industrial Solvents: Carboxylic acids, such as acetic acid, are used as solvents in chemical synthesis, cleaning agents, and coatings.
  6. Agriculture: They are used in the formulation of herbicides, fungicides, and plant growth regulators.

Well-Known Examples

  1. Acetic Acid: Used in the production of vinyl acetate monomer, solvents, and as a food additive (vinegar).
  2. Citric Acid: Commonly used in the food and beverage industry as a preservative and flavoring agent.
  3. Benzoic Acid: Used as a food preservative and in the manufacture of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
  4. Formic Acid: Used in leather processing, textile dyeing, and as a preservative in livestock feed.
  5. Terephthalic Acid: A key raw material in the production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for plastic bottles and fibers.

Treatment and Risks

While carboxylic acids are valuable industrial chemicals, they come with certain risks and challenges:

  • Corrosivity: Many carboxylic acids are corrosive and can cause burns upon contact with skin or eyes. Proper handling and safety measures are essential.
  • Environmental Impact: Improper disposal of carboxylic acids can lead to environmental pollution. Industries must adhere to regulations for waste management and disposal.
  • Health Hazards: Inhalation or ingestion of certain carboxylic acids can be harmful. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and adequate ventilation are necessary in industrial settings.

Similar Terms

  • Aldehydes: Organic compounds with a formyl group (-CHO), often used as intermediates in the synthesis of carboxylic acids.
  • Esters: Derived from carboxylic acids, esters are used in solvents, plasticizers, and fragrances.
  • Amides: Formed from carboxylic acids, amides are used in the production of pharmaceuticals and polymers.


In the industrial context, carboxylic acids are versatile and essential chemicals used in the production of polymers, pharmaceuticals, food additives, and solvents. Their reactivity and ability to participate in various chemical reactions make them indispensable in many industrial processes. However, careful handling and adherence to safety protocols are necessary to mitigate the risks associated with their use.


You have no rights to post comments