AskDefine | Define furan

Dictionary Definition

furan n : a colorless toxic flammable liquid used in the synthesis of nylon [syn: furane, furfuran]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Any of a class of aromatic heterocyclic compounds containing a ring of four carbon atoms and an oxygen atom; especially the simplest one, C4H4O.




  1. old

Extensive Definition

Furan, also known as furane and furfuran, is a heterocyclic organic compound. It is typically derived by the thermal decomposition of pentose-containing materials, cellulosic solids especially pine-wood. Furan is a colorless, flammable, highly volatile liquid with a boiling point close to room temperature. It is toxic and may be carcinogenic. Catalytic hydrogenation (see redox) of furan with a palladium catalyst gives tetrahydrofuran.


The name furan comes from the Latin furfur, which means bran. The first furan derivative to be described was 2-furoic acid, by Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1780. Another important derivative, furfural, was reported by Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner in 1831 and characterised nine years later by John Stenhouse. Furan itself was first prepared by Heinrich Limpricht in 1870, although he called it tetraphenol. REFRENCES.

Synthesis and isolation


Furan is aromatic because one of the lone pairs of electrons on the oxygen atom is delocalized into the ring, creating a 4n+2 aromatic system (see Hückel's rule) similar to benzene. Because of the aromaticity, the molecule is flat and lacks discrete double bonds. The other lone pair of electrons of the oxygen atom extends in the plane of the flat ring system. The sp2 hybridization is to allow one of the lone pairs of oxygen to reside in a p orbital and thus allow it to interact within the pi-system.
Due to its aromaticity, furan's behavior is quite dissimilar to that of the more typical heterocyclic ethers such as tetrahydrofuran.
  • It is considerably more reactive than benzene in electrophilic substitution reactions, due to the electron-donating effects of the oxygen heteroatom. Examination of the resonance contributors shows the increased electron density of the ring, leading to increased rates of electrophilic substitution.
  • Furan serves as a diene in Diels-Alder reactions with electron-deficient dienophiles such as ethyl (E)-3-nitroacrylate. The reaction product is a mixture of isomers with preference for the endo isomer:

See also

furan in German: Furan
furan in Spanish: Furano
furan in French: Furane
furan in Italian: Furano
furan in Latvian: Furāns
furan in Dutch: Furaan
furan in Japanese: フラン (化学)
furan in Norwegian: Furan
furan in Polish: Furan
furan in Portuguese: Furano (química)
furan in Russian: Фуран
furan in Slovak: Furán
furan in Finnish: Furaani
furan in Swedish: Furan
furan in Vietnamese: Furan
furan in Turkish: Furan
furan in Ukrainian: Фуран
furan in Chinese: 呋喃
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