What is Hexamine?

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Molecular structure of Hexamine

Hexamine is Hexamethylenetetramine which is a heterocyclic organic compound with the molecular formula (CH2)6N4. A heterocyclic cyclic compound is compound which has atoms of at least 2 different elements as members of its rings. A cyclic compound is an organic compound in which a series of atoms are connected to form a loop or ring. Simply speaking, Heterocyclic organic compound are composed of at least one atom of carbon bound to at least one other element, such as oxygen or sulfur. These atoms are arranged in a ring structure. The other names of Hexamine are Methenamine, Urotropine, 1, 3, 5, 7- tetraazaadamantane, Formin, Aminoform.


Who discovered Hexamine?

Hexamine was discovered by Aleksandr Butlerov in the year 1859. Aleksandr,a Russsian chemist, was one of the creators of the theory of chemical structure (1857-1861) and he was the first to incorporate double bonds into structural formulae in chemistry.


What is the structure of Hexamine?

Hexamine has a symmetric tetrahedral (composed of 4 triangular faces, which meets at each corner) cage-like structure. Even though the molecular shape defines a cage, no void space is available at the interior for binding other atoms or molecules. Particles of hexamine tend to range between 80-800 micrometers; a strand of human hair is about 100 micrometers wide.


How is Hexamine synthesized?

Hexamine is prepared by the reaction of formaldehyde and ammonia which yields crystalline hexamine. Formaldehyde is an organic compound with the molecular formula CH2O. Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a characteristic pungent odor. It is a naturally occurring substance made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.


What are the properties of Hexamine?

  • The molecular formula of Hexamine is (CH2)6N4
  • The molar mass is 140.186
  • The density of hexamine is 1.33g/cm cube
  • The Boiling point is 280 degree centigrade
  • It is a white-crystalline powder
  • It is highly soluble in water and most organic substances


What are the Applications of Hexamine?

  • The main use of Hexamine is in the production of powdery or liquid preparations of phenolic (phenolic formaldehyde) resins and phenolic resin molding compound, where it is added as a hardening component. Theses products are used as binders, e.g., in brake and clutch linings, abrasive products, no-woven textiles, fire proof materials. Phenolic formaldehyde resins include synthetic thermosetting resins got by the reaction of phenol (an organic compound) and formaldehyde
  • Medicinal uses: Medical professionals use hexamine as an antibiotic to treat urinary tract infections. The specific medication used is called methenamine hippurate, which is formed by the combination of hexamine and hippuric acid. In acidic urine, methenamine hydrolyzes into ammonia and formaldehyde, a non-specific antibiotic. As this reaction is activated by acid in the urine, methenamine is often ineffective as an antibiotic in those whose urine is not acidic.
  • Combustion: hexamine is also the primary ingredient in Esbit® fuel tablets. These fuel tablets have a very high energy density, burn smokeless and leave no ashes which also do not liquefy. They are used for cooking purposes by campers and military organizations. Esbit® fuel tablets are very light weight and portable, but the heat they produce is difficult to control and the fumes it produces are noxious. Some people are allergic to the compound, which can be absorbed through the skin.
  • In fire-protection laboratories: Hexamine tablets are used by fire-protection laboratories as a clean and reproducible fire source to test the flammability of carpets and rugs.
  • As a chemical agent in organic chemistry: Organic chemists use hexamine as a chemical agent in several chemical reactions which are quite complex and is often used for teaching purposes. Very often they are used for purposes of chemical analysis to determine the identity of an unknown solute (particles that are dissolved into a solution) in a solution.
  • Other uses: Hexamine is also used in rubber and textile adhesives, in paints and lacquers, in the photographic industry, in the production of deodorants and hair fixers.


Who are the producers of Hexamine?

Since 1990, the number of European producers has been significantly declining, with INEOS in Germany, Caldic in the Netherland, and Hexion in Italy being the main producers of hexamine.


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