A Publication
of Reliable Methods
for the Preparation
of Organic Compounds
Annual Volume
Org. Synth. 1927, 7, 40
DOI: 10.15227/orgsyn.007.0040
Submitted by W. C. Wilson
Checked by Roger Adams and C. G. Gauerke.
1. Procedure
In a 200-cc. round-bottomed flask is placed 80 g. (0.68 mole) of crude 2-furancarboxylic acid (p. 276) (usually about 95 per cent pure). To the neck of the flask is fitted an upright tube 2.5 cm. in diameter and 15 cm. long, with a side arm of the same diameter leading out about 2 cm. from the top of the tube. This side arm is extended into the bottom of an efficient (25-cm.) soda-lime tower (Note 1) immersed in a water bath held at 40° to prevent condensation of the furan. From the top of the soda-lime tower an outlet tube (0.5 cm. in diameter) is extended to the top of an upright water condenser, to the lower end of which is attached a receiving flask surrounded by ice and salt (Note 2).
The top of the upright tube in the reaction flask is closed by a cork stopper holding a glass plunger which may be used for pushing back into the flask any sublimed 2-furancarboxylic acid.
The acid is heated just to its boiling point (200–205°) (Note 3), when it decomposes with the evolution of furan and carbon dioxide. The small amounts of 2-furancarboxylic acid that sublime are pushed back from time to time. The distillate is finally redistilled, when it is found to boil at 31–34°/745 mm. The yield is 33–36 g. (72–78 per cent of the theoretical amount based on 2-furancarboxylic acid of 95 per cent purity) (Note 4).
2. Notes
1. The drying column removes carbon dioxide, moisture, and some of the other by-products which are formed. The product which is collected is nearly pure, and the redistillation completes the purification.
2. In a number of experiments a second receiver was used in addition to the first one, but it was found that practically all of the furan condensed in the first receiver.
3. Care should be taken in heating 2-furancarboxylic acid. If the temperature is too low, decomposition takes place too slowly; if too high, much 2-furancarboxylic acid sublimes and causes difficulty. In one run a thermometer was placed in the melted acid. It read 200–205° during the evolution of the furan.
4. In the preparation of considerable quantities of furan it is desirable to pass the gas through one or two wash bottles of potassium hydroxide before it reaches the soda-lime tower. The heat of absorption of carbon dioxide keeps these bottles warm enough to prevent condensation of furan. Also, the substitution of a 120–150 cm. column for the 15-cm. column allows greater volume and speed. By these modifications 200–300 g. of furan can be prepared per hour without difficulty (F. N. Peters, private communication).
3. Discussion
Furan can be prepared by heating 2-furancarboxylic acid in a sealed tube;1 by the dry distillation of barium 2-furancarboxylate;1 and by heating barium 2-furancarboxylate with soda-lime.2 Considerably improved yields have been reported to result from heating 2-furancarboxylic acid with a small amount of copper sulfate or copper oxide in a high-boiling coal-tar base3 or in quinoline.4 Furan has also been prepared from furfural by passing it over hot soda-lime or dropping it into a fused mixture of sodium and potassium hydroxides.5
This preparation is referenced from:

References and Notes
  1. Freundler, Compt. rend. 124, 1157 (1897); Bull. soc. chim. (3) 17, 613 (1897).
  2. Limpricht, Ann. 165, 281 (1873).
  3. Gilman and Lousinian, Rec. trav. chim. 52, 156 (1933).
  4. Wagner and Simons, J. Chem. Education 13, 270 (1936).
  5. Hurd, Goldsby, and Osborne, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 54, 2532 (1932).

Chemical Abstracts Nomenclature (Collective Index Number);
(Registry Number)


sodium and potassium hydroxides

copper sulfate (7758-98-7)

carbon dioxide (124-38-9)

Furan (110-00-9)

2-furancarboxylic acid (88-14-2)

barium 2-furancarboxylate

copper oxide (1317-38-0)

Quinoline (91-22-5)

Furfural (98-01-1)