Propanoic Acid

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  • Propanoic acid (from 'propane', and also known as propionic acid) is a naturally occurring carboxylic acid with chemical formula CH3CH2COOH. It is a clear liquid with a pungent odor. The anion CH3CH2COO- as well as the salts and esters of propanoic acid are known as propanoates (or propionates).

  • Propanoic acid has physical properties intermediate between those of the smaller carboxylic acids, formic and acetic acids, and the larger fatty acids. It is miscible with water, but can be removed from water by adding salt.

  • In industry, propanoic acid is mainly produced by the hydrocarboxylation of ethylene using nickel carbonyl as the catalyst.It is also produced by the aerobic oxidation of propionaldehyde. In the presence of cobalt or manganese ions, this reaction proceeds rapidly at temperatures as mild as
    4050 C.

  • Propanoic acid is produced biologically as its coenzyme A ester, propionyl-CoA, from the metabolic breakdown of fatty acids containing odd numbers of carbon atoms, and also from the breakdown of some amino acids.

  • Bacteria of the genus Propionibacterium produce propanoic acid as the end product of their anaerobic metabolism. This class of bacteria is commonly found in the stomachs of ruminants and the sweat glands of humans.

  • Propionic acid produced by fermentation is widely used in chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries. It is used primarily for animal feed preservation, including hay, silage and grains and in human foods, mainly in baked goods and cheeses.

  • It is also produced via the catalytic dehydration of glycerol in the presence of atleast one transition metal catalyst.It is the major product from lactose fermentation, with acetic acid and carbon dioxide as byproducts.It is a strong inhibitor to this fermentation.

  • Propanoic acid has bee used as a cosubstrate for the production of the biodegradable polymer, poly(3-hydroxybutyric-co-3-hydroxyvaleric)acid, by alcaligenes eutrophus.

  • The metabolism of propanoic acid begins with its conversion to propionyl coenzyme A
    (propionyl-CoA), the usual first step in the metabolism of carboxylic acids. Since propanoic acid has three carbons, propionyl-CoA cannot directly enter either beta oxidation or the citric acid cycles.

  • Propionic acid bacteria have long been used in the diary industy. These bacteria play
    important roles int the developement of the characteristic flavor and eye production in
    swiss-type cheeses.


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