Chloroprene is the common name for the organic compound 2-chloro-1,3-butadiene, which has the chemical formula CH2=CCl-CH=CH2. This colorless liquid is the monomer for the production of the polymer polychloroprene, a type of synthetic rubber. Polychloroprene is better known to the public as Neoprene, the trade name DuPont gave it when the company first developed it and currently used by DuPont Performance Elastomers.
Chlorine adds to 1,3-butadiene to afford a mixture of 3,4-dichloro-1-butene and 2,3-dichloro-2-butene. The 2,3-chloro isomer is subsequently isomerized to 3,4 isomer, which in turn is treated with base to induce dehydrochlorination to 2-chloro-1,3-butadiene. This dehydrohalogenation entails loss of a hydrogen atom in the 3 position and the chlorine atom in the #4 position thereby forming a double bond between carbons #3 and #4. In 1983, approximately 2,000,000 kg were produced in this manner. The chief impurity in chloroprene prepared in this way is 1-chloro-1,3-butadiene, which is usually separated by distillation.
This process had disadvantages in that it is very energy-intensive and has high investment costs. Furthermore, the intermediate vinyl acetylene is unstable.