| Section8 = }} Carbon monoxide, with the chemical formula CO, is a colorless, odorless, tasteless yet highly toxic gas. Its molecules consist of one carbon atom covalently bonded to one oxygen atom. There are two covalent bonds and a coordinate covalent bond between the oxygen and carbon atoms.
Carbon monoxide is produced from the partial combustion of carbon-containing compounds, notably in internal-combustion engines. Carbon monoxide forms in preference to the more usual carbon dioxide when there is a reduced availability of oxygen present during the combustion process. Carbon monoxide has significant fuel value, burning in air with a characteristic blue flame, producing carbon dioxide. Despite its serious toxicity, CO plays a highly useful role in modern technology, being a precursor to myriad products.
Producer gas is formed by combustion of carbon in oxygen at high temperatures when there is an excess of carbon. In an oven, air is passed through a bed of coke. The initially produced CO2 equilibrates with the remaining hot carbon to give CO. The reaction of O2 with carbon to give CO is described as the Boudouard equilibrium. Above 800 °C, CO is the predominant product:
CO also is a byproduct of the reduction of metal oxide ores with carbon, shown in a simplified form as follows:
CO is the anhydride of formic acid. As such it is conveniently produced by the dehydration of formic acid, for example with sulfuric acid. Another laboratory preparation for carbon monoxide entails heating an intimate mixture of powdered zinc metal and calcium carbonate.
The molecule's bond length is consistent with a partial triple bond. The molecule has a small dipole moment and can be represented by three resonance structures:
High volume aldehydes are produced by the hydroformylation reaction of alkenes, CO, and H2. In one of many applications of this technology, hydroformylation is coupled to the Shell Higher Olefin Process to give precursors to detergents.
Methanol is produced by the hydrogenation of CO. In a related reaction, the hydrogenation of CO is coupled to C-C bond formation, as in the Fischer-Tropsch process where CO is hydrogenated to liquid hydrocarbon fuels. This technology allows coal to be converted to petrol.
In the Monsanto process, carbon monoxide and methanol react in the presence of a homogeneous rhodium catalyst and HI to give acetic acid. This process is responsible for most of the industrial production of acetic acid.
Most metals form coordination complexes containing covalently attached carbon monoxide. Only those in lower oxidation states will complex with carbon monoxide ligands. This is because there must be sufficient electron density to facilitate back donation from the metal dxz-orbital, to the π* molecular orbital from CO. The lone pair on the carbon atom in CO, also donates electron density to the dx²−y² on the metal to form a sigma bond. In nickel carbonyl, Ni(CO)4 forms by the direct combination of carbon monoxide and nickel metal at room temperature. For this reason, nickel in any tubing or part must not come into prolonged contact with carbon monoxide (corrosion). Nickel carbonyl decomposes readily back to Ni and CO upon contact with hot surfaces, and this method was once used for the industrial purification of nickel in the Mond process.
In nickel carbonyl and other carbonyls, the electron pair on the carbon interacts with the metal; the carbon monoxide donates the electron pair to the metal. In these situations, carbon monoxide is called the carbonyl ligand. One of the most important metal carbonyls is iron pentacarbonyl, Fe(CO)5:
Many metal-CO complexes are prepared by decarbonylation of organic solvents, not from CO. For instance, iridium trichloride and triphenylphosphine react in boiling methoxyethanol or DMF) to afford IrCl(CO)(PPh3)2.
With main group reagents, CO undergoes several noteworthy reactions. Chlorination of CO is the industrial route to the important compound phosgene. With borane CO forms an adduct, H3BCO, which is isoelectronic with the acylium cation [H3CCO]+. CO reacts with sodium to give products resulting from C-C coupling such as Na2C2O2 (sodium acetylenediolate), and potassium to give K2C2O2 (potassium acetylenediolate) and K2C6O6 (potassium rhodizonate).
Carbon monoxide, though thought of as a pollutant today, has always been present in the atmosphere, chiefly as a product of volcanic activity. It occurs dissolved in molten volcanic rock at high pressures in the earth's mantle. Carbon monoxide contents of volcanic gases vary from less than 0.01% to as much as 2% depending on the volcano. It also occurs naturally in bushfires. Because natural sources of carbon monoxide are so variable from year to year, it is extremely difficult to accurately measure natural emissions of the gas.
Carbon monoxide has an indirect radiative forcing effect by elevating concentrations of methane and tropospheric ozone through chemical reactions with other atmospheric constituents (e.g., the hydroxyl radical, OH.) that would otherwise destroy them. Through natural processes in the atmosphere, it is eventually oxidized to carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide concentrations are both short-lived in the atmosphere and spatially variable.
Anthropogenic CO from automobile and industrial emissions may contribute to the greenhouse effect and global warming. In urban areas carbon monoxide, along with aldehydes, reacts photochemically to produce peroxy radicals. Peroxy radicals react with nitrogen oxide to increase the ratio of NO2 to NO, which reduces the quantity of NO that is available to react with ozone. Carbon monoxide is also a constituent of tobacco smoke.
One reaction in the body produces CO. Carbon monoxide is produced naturally as a breakdown of heme (which is one of hemoglobin moieties), a substrate for the enzyme heme oxygenase. The enzymatic reaction results in breakdown of heme to CO, biliverdin and Fe3+ radical. The endogenously produced CO may have important physiological roles in the body (eg as a neurotransmitter or a blood vessels relaxant). In addition CO regulates inflammatory reactions in a manner that prevents the development of several diseases such as atherosclerosis or severe malaria.
CO is a nutrient for methanogenic bacteria, a building block for acetylcoenzyme A. This theme is the subject for the emerging field of bioorganometallic chemistry. In bacteria, CO is produced via the reduction of carbon dioxide via the enzyme carbon monoxide dehydrogenase, an Fe-Ni-S-containing protein.
A haeme-based CO-sensor protein, CooA, is known. The scope of its biological role is still unclear, it is apparently part of a signaling pathway in bacteria and archaea, but its occurrence in mammals is not established.
CO is also currently being studied in several research laboratories throughout the world for its anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective properties that can be used therapeutically to prevent the development of a series of pathologic conditions such as ischemia reperfusion injury, transplant rejection, atherosclerosis, sepsis, severe malaria or autoimmunity. There are yet no clinical applications of CO in humans.
It was first described by the Spanish doctor Arnaldus de Villa Nova in the 11th century; but the creation of Carbon monoxide was first made by the French chemist de Lassone in 1776 by heating zinc oxide with coke. He mistakenly concluded that the gaseous product was hydrogen as it burned with a blue flame. The gas was identified as a compound containing carbon and oxygen by the English chemist William Cumberland Cruikshank in the year 1800.
The toxic properties of CO were first thoroughly investigated by the French physiologist Claude Bernard around 1846. He poisoned dogs with the gas, and noticed that their blood was more rutilant in all the vessels. 'Rutilant' is a French word, but also has an entry in English dictionaries, meaning ruddy, shimmering, or golden. However, it was translated at the time as crimson, scarlet, and now is famously known as 'cherry pink'.
During World War II, carbon monoxide was used to keep motor vehicles running in parts of the world where gasoline was scarce. External charcoal or wood burners were fitted, and the carbon monoxide produced by gasification was piped to the carburetor. The CO in this case is known as "wood gas". Carbon monoxide was also reportedly used on a small scale during the Holocaust at some Nazi extermination camps, and in the Action T4 "euthanasia" program.
The mechanisms by which carbon monoxide produces toxic effects are not yet fully understood, but haemoglobin, myoglobin, and mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase are thought to be compromised. Treatment largely consists of administering 100% oxygen or hyperbaric oxygen therapy, although the optimum treatment remains controversial. Domestic carbon monoxide poisoning can be prevented by the use of household carbon monoxide detectors.