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Toluene formerly known as toluol, is a clear, water-insoluble liquid with the typical smell of paint thinners. It is a mono-substituted benzene derivative, i.e., one in which a single hydrogen atom from a group of six atoms from the benzene molecule has been replaced by a univalent group, in this case CH3. As such, its IUPAC systematic name ismethylbenzene.
It is an aromatic hydrocarbon that is widely used as an industrial feedstock and as a solvent. Like other solvents, toluene is sometimes also used as an inhalant drug for its intoxicating properties; however, inhaling toluene has potential to cause severe neurological harm.Toluene is an important organic solvent, but is also capable of dissolving a number of notable inorganic chemicals such as sulfur, iodine, bromine, phosphorus, and other non-polar covalent substances.
Toluene is a common solvent, able to dissolve paints, paint thinners, silicone sealants, many chemical reactants, rubber, printing ink, adhesives (glues), lacquers, leather tanners, and disinfectants. It can also be used as a fullerene indicator, and is a raw material for toluene diisocyanate (used in the manufacture of polyurethane foam) and TNT.
In addition, it is used as a solvent to create a solution of carbon nanotubes. It is also used as a cement for fine polystyrene kits (by dissolving and then fusing surfaces) as it can be applied very precisely by brush and contains none of the bulk of an adhesive.
Industrial uses of toluene include dealkylation to benzene, and the disproportionation to a mixture of benzene and xylene in the BTX process. When oxidized it yields benzaldehyde and benzoic acid, two important intermediates in chemistry.
It is also used as a carbon source for making Multi-Wall Carbon Nanotubes. Toluene can be used to break open red blood cells in order to extract hemoglobin in biochemistry experiments.
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