Organic compounds that have a halogen group element as a functional group are called haloalkanes or haloarenes depending on the structure of the compounds. If it is an aliphatic compound it is called haloalkane and if the compound is aromatic then it is referred to as haloarenes. Those compounds that have two or more than two halogen groups in them are known as polyhalogenated compounds. These polyhalogenated compounds have special properties and find a wide range of application in the industry. Carbon tetrachloride, a tetrahedral molecule consisting of four chloride atoms and a single carbon atom, is one of the most important compound in this category. Its IUPAC name is tetrachloromethane.
Properties of Carbon Tetrachloride and its Uses
It was first discovered in 1839 by Henri Victor Regnault. He synthesised this compound by reacting chloroform with chlorine. These days it is mainly produced from methane. The positioning of four chlorine atoms in carbon tetrachloride is symmetric and hence it is a non-polar molecule. The non-polarity of this compound makes it an excellent solvent for non-polar substances. It is also used as a source of chlorine in synthesis of other chlorine based organic compounds. The absence of hydrogen atom in carbon tetrachloride makes it useful in NMR spectroscopy and its solvent properties make it a usable option in infrared spectroscopy. Tetrachloromethane has been also used as a fire extinguisher in the past. It prevented fire by extinguishing the flames; its vaporization prevented the combustion reaction. However, these uses of carbon tetrachloride were suppressed after the detection of toxic effects of this compound.
Effects of Carbon Tetrachloride
Carbon tetrachloride is a toxic material. Although it has a wide range of application but its use has been highly suppressed. Carbon tetrachloride hazards include severe damage to nervous system, kidneys, degenerate liver, it can even cause cancer. It may lead to coma or even death in case of exposure to concentrated tetrachloromethane. Continued exposures to this gas can cause depression by affecting the nervous system. Apart from its toxicity, it severely affects our environment. It is a greenhouse gas and has ozone-depleting properties and it is a significant cause of global warming and environmental damage.
The toxic effects of carbon tetrachloride have played the most important role in suppressing the use of this compound in different industries and thus preventing further damage to our environment. Its chemistry has been an important topic of research ever since its first synthesis. Learn more about this compound; call our mentors at Byju’s for any further doubt.