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Carboxylic Acid - Recognizing Value Enhancement Activities

Carboxylic acids are vital to the chemical industry, and they can be used for a wide variety of purposes. That's why carboxylic acid demand is such an important determinant in the price of oil - after all, many carboxylic acids come from petroleum sources. 

But what are some challenges that you might not have considered when it comes to the carboxylic acid market? There are a number of issues that could influence its fate on the world stage - this article will explore them one by one. Clearly, we'll need to think about these when deciding how much you want to invest in this particular area. 

Carboxylic acids are organic acids that have the formula RC(O)OH. This can also be seen as CO2H, where R is an organic substituent such as H or CH3. The carboxyl group (-COOH) is derived from the Latin word "carbo". Carboxylic acids show many properties like other carboxylic acid derivatives. They are weak organic acids, but are stronger than alcohols. Their distinguishing feature is that they can be deprotonated by strong protic acids such as hydrochloric acid, making them good Brønsted-Lowry acids. They also lose a proton readily to form stable enolates or tautomerise into ketones.  

The first carboxylic acid of importance was acetic acid, discovered by the British chemist Joseph Priestley in 1772 and he named it "essential oil of vitriol". The current name derived from the Latin word for burning (combustion), as when dissolved in water it liberates molecular oxygen – a property highly valued chemically since before recorded history. The name is thought to be a misspelling of the normal chemical formula of saltwater.  

Carboxylic acids are derivatives of carboxylic acid and are more reactive than the parent acid:

The reaction between carboxylic acids and water is usually an exothermic, rapid and complete reaction:

Carboxylic acids are also known as o-carboxylic (R1=C(O)) acids. In addition to those derivatives specifically named as carboxylic acids, a large number of other compounds have the formula RC(O)OH, where R is different from H or CH3; these are called "acyl halides". 

The carboxylic acids usually encountered are the lower alkanoic acids, those derived from aliphatic hydrocarbons and related to the cis-trans isomerism of double bonds. Most are non-volatile liquids (some have boiling points as high as 200 °C) or gases, although some carboxylic acids – such as esters – are volatile. Carboxylic acids typically have a distinct sour or acrid odor and their presence can often be detected by tasting the air near where they were deposited (as in wine making). Carboxylic acid is a strong acid because of its resonance stabilization, and hence it has very weak electrophilic character. 

The overall market for carboxylic acid saw a decline in 2017, dropping by -0.8% compared to 2016. This was the first year-on-year decline since 2013. This drop can be attributed to a few major factors such as the introduction of HCl prohibition regulations in California and other states and a specific regulation known as the methyl tertiary butylether (MTBE) mandate which required gasoline to contain a certain amount of MTBE.

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