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Title: Furan  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Self-healing material, Incineration, Psoralen, 2-Furanone, List of Superfund sites in Minnesota
Collection: Furans, Iarc Group 2B Carcinogens, Simple Aromatic Rings
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Full structural formula of furan
Skeletal formula showing numbering convention
Ball-and-stick model
Space-filling model
IUPAC name
Systematic IUPAC name
Other names
Furane (misspelling)[1]
Divinylene oxide
ChemSpider  Y
Jmol-3D images Image
Molar mass 68.08 g·mol−1
Appearance Colorless, volatile liquid
Density 0.936 g/mL
Melting point −85.6 °C (−122.1 °F; 187.6 K)
Boiling point 31.3 °C (88.3 °F; 304.5 K)
Safety data sheet Pennakem
R-phrases R26/27/28, R45
S-phrases S16, S37, S45, S28
NFPA 704
Flash point −69 °C (−92 °F; 204 K)
390 °C (734 °F; 663 K)
Explosive limits Lower:2.3%, upper:14.3% @ 20 °C
Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):
LD50 (Median dose)
> 2 g/kg (rat)
Related compounds
Related heterocycles
Related compounds
Tetrahydrofuran (THF)
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
 Y  (: Y/N?)

Furan is a aromatic ring with four carbon atoms and one oxygen. The class of compounds containing such rings are also referred to as furans.

Furan is a colorless, alcohol, ether, and acetone, but is slightly soluble in water.[2] It is toxic and may be carcinogenic in humans. Furan is used as a starting point to other specialty chemicals.[3]


  • History 1
  • Production 2
    • Synthesis of furans 2.1
  • Chemistry 3
  • Safety 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The name furan comes from the Latin furfur, which means bran.[4] The first furan derivative to be described was 2-furoic acid, by Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1780. Another important derivative, furfural, was reported by Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner in 1831 and characterised nine years later by John Stenhouse. Furan itself was first prepared by Heinrich Limpricht in 1870, although he called it tetraphenol.[5][6]


Industrially, furan is manufactured by the palladium-catalyzed decarbonylation of furfural, or by the copper-catalyzed oxidation of 1,3-butadiene:[3]

In the laboratory, furan can be obtained from furfural by oxidation to furan-2-carboxylic acid, followed by decarboxylation.[7] It can also be prepared directly by thermal decomposition of pentose-containing materials, cellulosic solids especially pine-wood.

Synthesis of furans

The Feist–Benary synthesis is a classic way to synthesize furans, although many syntheses have been developed.[8] One of the simplest synthesis methods for furans is the reaction of 1,4-diketones with phosphorus pentoxide (P2O5) in the Paal–Knorr synthesis. The thiophene formation reaction of 1,4-diketones with Lawesson's reagent also forms furans as side products. Many routes exist for the synthesis of substituted furans.[9]


Furan is aromatic because one of the lone pairs of electrons on the oxygen atom is delocalized into the ring, creating a 4n+2 aromatic system (see Hückel's rule) similar to benzene. Because of the aromaticity, the molecule is flat and lacks discrete double bonds. The other lone pair of electrons of the oxygen atom extends in the plane of the flat ring system. The sp2 hybridization is to allow one of the lone pairs of oxygen to reside in a p orbital and thus allow it to interact within the pi-system.

Due to its aromaticity, furan's behavior is quite dissimilar to that of the more typical heterocyclic ethers such as tetrahydrofuran.

  • It is considerably more reactive than benzene in electrophilic substitution reactions, due to the electron-donating effects of the oxygen heteroatom. Examination of the resonance contributors shows the increased electron density of the ring, leading to increased rates of electrophilic substitution.[10]

Resonance contributors of furan

Furan Diels-Alder reaction with ethyl (E)-3-nitroacrylate

Diels-Alder reaction of furan with arynes provides corresponding derivatives of dihydronaphthalenes which are useful intermediates in synthesis of other polycyclic aromatic compounds.[12]


Furan is found in heat-treated commercial foods and it is produced through thermal degradation of natural food constituents.[13][14] Notably, it can be found in roasted coffee, instant coffee, and processed baby foods.[15][14][16] Research has indicated that coffee made in espresso makers, and, above all, coffee made from capsules, contains more furan than that made in traditional drip coffee makers, although the levels are still within safe health limits.[17]

Exposure to furan at doses about 2000 times the projected level of human exposure from foods increases the risk of hepatocellular tumors in rats and mice and bile duct tumors in rats.[18] Furan is therefore listed as a possible human carcinogen.[18]

See also


  1. ^ Webster's Online Dictionary
  2. ^ Hans Dieter Jakubke; Hans Jeschkeit (1994). Concise Encyclopedia of Chemistry. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 001–1201.  
  3. ^ a b H. E. Hoydonckx, W. M. Van Rhijn, W. Van Rhijn, D. E. De Vos, P. A. Jacobs (2005), "Furfural and Derivatives",  
  4. ^ Alexander Senning. Elsevier's Dictionary of Chemoetymology. Elsevier, 2006. ISBN 0-444-52239-5.
  5. ^ Limpricht, H. (1870). "Ueber das Tetraphenol C4H4O". Berichte der deutschen chemischen Gesellschaft 3 (1): pp. 90–91.  
  6. ^ Rodd, Ernest Harry (1971). Chemistry of Carbon Compounds: A Modern Comprehensive Treatise. Elsevier. 
  7. ^ Wilson, W.C. (1941). "Furan".  
  8. ^ Hou XL, Cheung HY, Hon TY, Kwan PL, Lo TH, Tong SY, Wong HNC (1998). "Regioselective syntheses of substituted furans".  
  9. ^ Katritzky, Alan R. (2003). "Synthesis of 2,4-disubstituted furans and 4,6-diaryl-substituted 2,3-benzo-1,3a,6a-triazapentalenes". Arkivoc 2004 (2): 109.  
  10. ^ Bruice, Paula Y. (2007). Organic Chemistry (Fifth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.  
  11. ^ Masesane I, Batsanov A, Howard J, Modal R, Steel P (2006). "The oxanorbornene approach to 3-hydroxy, 3,4-dihydroxy and 3,4,5-trihydroxy derivatives of 2-aminocyclohexanecarboxylic acid".  
  12. ^ M.A. Filatov, S. Baluschev, I.Z. Ilieva, V. Enkelmann, T. Miteva, K. Landfester, S.E. Aleshchenkov, A.V. Cheprakov (2012). "Tetraaryltetraanthra[2,3]porphyrins: Synthesis, Structure, and Optical Properties". J. Org. Chem. 77 (24): 11119–11131.  
  13. ^ Anese, M; Manzocco, L; Calligaris, S; Nicoli, MC (2013). "Industrially Applicable Strategies for Mitigating Acrylamide, Furan and 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural in Food". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 61 (43): 130528102950009.  
  14. ^ a b Moro, S; Chipman, JK; Wegener, JW; Hamberger, C; Dekant, W; Mally, A (2012). "Furan in heat-treated foods: Formation, exposure, toxicity, and aspects of risk assessment". Molecular nutrition & food research 56 (8): 1197–211.  
  15. ^  
  16. ^ Waizenegger, J; Winkler, G; Kuballa, T; Ruge, W; Kersting, M; Alexy, U; Lachenmeier, DW (2012). "Analysis and risk assessment of furan in coffee products targeted to adolescents". Food additives & contaminants. Part A, Chemistry, analysis, control, exposure & risk assessment 29 (1): 19–28.  
  17. ^ "Espresso makers: Coffee in capsules contains more furan than the rest", Science Daily, April 14, 2011
  18. ^ a b Bakhiya, N; Appel, KE (2010). "Toxicity and carcinogenicity of furan in human diet". Archives of toxicology 84 (7): 563–78.  

External links

  • Recent synthetic methods
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