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Experiment # 1:

Preparation of Bakelite

Date: 28-09-10

Muhammad Usman

Properties of required chemicals:

1. Glacial Acetic acid:

Dilute acetic acid, in the form of vinegar, is harmless.

However, ingestion of stronger solutions is dangerous to human and animal life.

It can cause severe damage to the digestive system, and a potentially lethal
change in the acidity of the blood.

Concentrated acetic acid can be ignited with difficulty in the laboratory. It
becomes a flammable risk if the ambient temperature exceeds 39 °C (102 °F),
and can form explosive mixtures with air above this temperature (explosive
limits: 5.4–16%).

Concentrated acetic acid is corrosive and must be handled with appropriate care,
since it can cause skin burns, permanent eye damage, and irritation to the
mucous membranes. These burns or blisters may not appear until hours after
exposure. Latex gloves offer no protection, so especially resistant gloves, such
as those made of nitrile rubber, are worn when handling the compound.

Properties of Glacial Acetic acid:

Glacial acetic acid is a trivial name for water-free acetic acid.

IUPAC name Acetic acid

Acetyl hydroxide, Ethylic acid, Hydrogen
Other names
acetate, Methane-carboxylic acid

Molecular formula CH3COOH

Molar mass 60.05 g mol-1

Appearance Colorless liquid

1.049 g/cm3 (l)

1.266 g/cm3 (s)
Melting point 16.5 °C, 290 K, 62 °F
Boiling point 118.1 °C, 391 K, 245 °F
Solubility in water Fully miscible
Acidity (Pka) 4.76 at 25oC
Viscosity 1.22 mPa.S at 25oC
Flash point 43 °C

2. Formaldehyde Solution (37%):

Formaldehyde is a carcinogenic chemical. While handling it, care should be
taken otherwise it can cause serious damage to humane life.

It is a toxic compound. Serious damage can be there if swallowed or inhaled for
a sufficiently long time.
Properties of Formaldehyde solution:
Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring substance in the environment made of carbon, hydrogen and

IUPAC name Methanal

Formol, methyl aldehyde, methylene oxide,
Other names
methanal, methylene glycol


Molecular formula CH2O

Molar mass 30.03 g/gmol

Colorless gas
In lab 37% liquid
Appearance solution of
formaldehyde was

Density 1.38 g/ml

Melting point -15oC (37% solution)
Boiling point 96 oC (37% solution)
Solubility in water Very high
Explosive limits 7-73%
Auto-ignition temperature 430 oC

3. Phenol:

Phenol is a corrosive substance. It is a slightly acidic compound. Care should
be taken while handling phenol because it can damage to skin and clothing.
Phenol and its vapors are corrosive to the eyes, the skin, and the respiratory
tract. Inhalation of phenol vapor may cause lung problems. The substance
may cause harmful effects on the central nervous system and heart. The
kidneys may be affected as well. Exposure may result in death and the effects
may be delayed. Long-term or repeated exposure of the substance may have
harmful effects on the liver and kidneys." There is no evidence to believe that
phenol causes cancer in humans.

Properties of Phenol:

IUPAC name Hydroxybenzene

Carbolic Acid, Benzenol, Phenylic Acid, Hydroxybenzene,
Other names
Phenic acid, Phenyl alcohol


Molecular formula C6H6O

Molar mass 94.11 gmol-1


Density 1.07 g cm3

Melting point 314 k
Boiling point 455 k
Solubility in water 8.3 g/100 ml (20 oC)
Acidity (Pka) 9.95
Flash point 79 oC
Preparation of Bakelite
o Chemicals required:
1. Glacial acetic acid
2. 40% formaldehyde solution
3. Phenol
o Apparatus required:
1. Beaker 2. Bunsen burner
3. Stirrer 4. Conical flask
5. Funnel 6. Water bath
7. Filter paper
o Chemical reaction:

o Procedure:
1) Take 25ml of glacial acetic acid in a beaker. Add 12.5 ml of 40% formaldehyde solution in the
2) Now add 10g phenol into above solution after some heating.
3) Finally add 12-15ml HCl into solution.
4) Start heating solution in H2O Bath such that the water in the bath doesn’t start boiling.
5) Keep on heating the solution unless there is a solid mass formed in the beaker with small amount
of H2O present.
6) Now filter this mixture with the help of funnel & filter paper. The solid sticking mass is Bakelite.
o Precautions:
a) The face of the beaker should not be towards the face of the worker during heating.
b) HCl shouldn’t be poured into reaction mixture very slowly
c) The contact of Phenol with skin should be avoided.

o Uses of Bakelite:
Uses of Bakelite are following.
Bakelite is used as a substitute of Porcelain & other opaque Ceramic materials.
Board/Table Top:
It is used in the area of board & table top games e.g. Billiard balls, Dominoes etc.
It is used in mounting of Metal samples.
It is used in whistles, cameras, solid body & Electric guitars.
Bakelite is very suitable for emerging Electrical & automobile industries because of its extra
ordinary resistance but also due to its thermal resistance.
It has been widely used in jewellery products.

Industrial production of Bakelite:

Industrially Bakelite is produced by following process.

1. Mixing of the Reactants:

The phenol and formaldehyde are sent separately to a kettle which serves as a reactor and mixing
of reactants take place here.
2. Reactor:
The phenol and formaldehyde are placed in the reaction kettle with the catalyst i.e. Sulfuric acid
and heated.
Temperature inside the reactor is 285-325 oF.
Residence time:
Mean residence time of reactants inside the reactor vessel is 3-4 hours.
Chemical reaction:
During the condensation reaction water is eliminated and forms the upper of two layers.
3. Removal of water:
The water of reaction is removed under vacuum without the addition of heat.
4. Product collection:
The warm, dehydrated, viscous resin is run out of the kettle into shallow trays & allowed to cool
& harden.
The cooled, brittle resin is crushed, finely ground, and becomes the resin binder for molding
phenolic resins.


1. Shreve’s chemical process industries

Edition 2nd, page 778-779

2. Wikipedia