Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V09, Page 851 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ETHYLENE, or ETHENE, C2H4, or H2C:CH2, the first representative of the series of olefine hydrocarbons, is found in coal gas. It is usually prepared by heating a mixture of ethyl alcohol and sulphuric acid. G. S. Newth (Jour. Chen. Soc., 1901, 79, p. 915) obtains a purer product by dropping ethyl alcohol into syrupy phosphoric acid (sp. gr. 1.75) warmed to 200° C., subsequently raising the temperature to 220° C. It can also be obtained by the action of sodium on ethylidene chloride (B. Tollens, Ann., 1866, 137, p. 311); by the reduction of copper acetylide with zinc dust and ammonia; by heating ethyl bromide with an alcoholic solution of caustic potash; by passing a mixture of carbon bisulphide and sulphuretted hydrogen over red-hot copper; and by the electrolysis of a concentrated solution of potassium succinate, (CH2. CO2K) 2+2H20 = C2H4+2CO2+2KOH +H2. It is a colourless gas of somewhat sweetish taste; it is slightly soluble in water, but more so in alcohol and ether. It can be liquefied at-1.1° C., under a pressure of 42i atmos, It solidifies at-181° C. and melts at-169° C. (K. Olszewski); it boils at -105° C. (L. P. Cailletet), or-102° to-103° C. (K. Olszewski). Its critical temperature is 13° C., and its specific gravity is o•9784 (air =1). The specific gravity of liquid ethylene is o•386 (3° C.). Ethylene burns with a bright luminous flame, and forms a very explosive mixture with oxygen. For the combustion of ethylene see FLAME. On strong heating it decomposes, giving, among other products, carbon, methane and acetylene (M. Berthelot, Ann., 1866, 139, p. 277). Being an unsaturated hydrocarbon, it is capable of forming addition products, e.g. it combines with hydrogen in the presence of platinum black, to form ethane,
End of Article: ETHYLENE, or ETHENE, C2H4

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