Propanoic Acid: Structure, Formula & Uses

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson gives you the alternative name for propanoic acid, its structures, formulas as well as many of its interesting uses throughout a number of industries.

What Is Propanoic Acid?

What's found in your gastrointestinal tract and dairy products and is used as antifungal agent? It's propanoic acid, also called propionic acid. If you were to see and smell the isolated version of this chemical compound, you wouldn't like it. It's a clear, colorless and oily liquid. It also has a sharp rancid odor to it and it produces irritating vapors as well. If you were to taste it, you'd describe it as sour and a bit cheese-like in nature. Of course, that isn't recommended. Just stick to the Gouda instead.

What's recommended is that you continue reading this lesson to find out this compound's structure, formula and uses.

Structure & Formula

The chemical formula for propanoic acid can be either of the following although the first is more commonly used:

f

The C stands for carbon. The H refers to hydrogen. The O is for oxygen.

Just like propanoic acid has two different formulas, its structure can be ultimately demonstrated in multiple ways, either two dimensionally or three dimensionally as shown in the images herein.

2D Structure
2

3D structure
3

Uses

More than the number of formulas and ways by which its structure can be represented, are the number of things for which propanoic acid can be used. This includes the chemical variations of propanoic acid called propionates.

There is actually more than one way by which propanoic acid can be manufactured for all of its uses. Perhaps the most interesting way is by fermenting wood pulp waste using bacteria of the aptly named genus Propionibacterium.

Regardless of how they're made, both propanoic acid and propionates have been used for many things:

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