IPN is an acronym for isopropyl nitrate, its proper scientific name is 2-propyl nitrate. IPN is a white liquid with an ether like smell. IPN is a volatile liquid with anesthetic properties at lower concentrations as well as causing headaches if inhaled or spilled on the skin. Ingesting or constant inhalation of quantities exceeding 4% for two or more hours is lethal. Quantities as low as 0.2% show no ill effects. This substance has found uses as rocket propellents and jet starter fuel when it is not being used as a propellent or explosive. The liquid is stable for the most part although it is flammable.
|isopropyl alcohol||Florence flask|
To prepare IPN, isopropyl alcohol is nitrated continuously by adding a mixture of 61% nitric acid with 95% isopropyl alcohol, saturated with urea, into a Florence flask set up for distillation containing boiling 50% nitric acid. The IPN and water formed are continuously distilled off at about 98 °C from the reaction mixture. The volume of the reaction mixture is held constant by drainage of nitric acid and unstable by-products from it as the reactants are added. Unless you have a special flask with a stopcock on the bottom, you will have to periodically disconnect the flask from the condenser and dump out some of the used nitric acid. You will also have to momentarily disconnect the flask to add more acid/alcohol mix if you do not have an addition funnel. Be very careful doing this as you will subject yourself to a blast of acid fumes. A curtain of air, nitrogen, or carbon dioxide is blown through the reaction mixture to improve mixing and to facilitate the elimination of the volatile products. However, a flow of inert gas in excess of 50 L/hr decreases the IPN yield. The optimum ratio of nitric acid to isopropyl alcohol is about 2:1. The IPN yield is 78%.
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