Nitromethane is the simplest organic nitro compound. It is a colorless, oily, polar and highly flammable liquid with a strong, disagreeable odor.
Nitromethane is industrially produced by combining propane and nitric acid in the gas phase at 350 – 450 °C. This reaction is exothermic, and produces the four industrially significant nitroalkanes : nitromethane, nitroethane, 1-nitropropane, and 2-nitropropane. The reaction involves free radicals, including the alkoxyl radicals of CH3CH2CH2O, which arise via homolysis of the corresponding nitrite ester. These alkoxy radicals are susceptible to C—C fragmentation reactions, which forms of a mixture of products.
Nitromethane is used as a fuel in motor sports, rockets, hobby airplanes, and the like.
Nitromethane is also used to make explosives and rocket fuel.
Nitromethane is an efficient nitrogen donor, which makes it a highly functional molecule for organic synthesis. It is the raw material preparation for chloropicrin, beta-nitrostyrene, and tris(hydroxymethyl)nitromethane.
It can be used as cellulose compound, polymer, resin, paint, wax content of the surfactant, solvent and accelerant.