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From the days when Formic Acid was long considered a chemical compound of only minor industrial interest to today when it finds increasing use as a preservative and antibacterial in livestock feed, the demand and potential for Formic Acid seem only bound by our curiosity.

Found in the stings and bites of many insects, including bees and ants where they secrete Formic Acid for attack and defence purposes, humans didn’t isolate the element until 1671. It would be another 184 years before a French chemist named Marcellin Berthelot, developed a synthesis from carbon monoxide, a process that is very similar to the one we use to this day.

The primary use of Formic Acid is as a preservative and antibacterial agent in livestock feed. When sprayed on fresh hay, it halts certain decay processes and causes the feed to preserve its nutritional value for longer periods of time and consequently is particularly valuable in the colder months for cattle feed. When used in the poultry industry, it is occasionally added to feed to kill salmonella bacteria. Other industries use it to:

  • It is used to process organic latex (sap) into raw rubber.
  • Beekeepers use formic acid as a miticide against the mites.
  • It is used in the textile industry and for the tanning of leather.
  • It is the active ingredient in some brands of household limescale removers.
  • In synthetic organic chemistry, formic acid is often used as a source of hydride ion.

In the laboratory setting, Formic Acid is used as a source for carbon monoxide, which is set free by the addition of sulfuric acid.

One area of excitement is in fuel cells that use modified formic acid. Formic Acid is fed directly into the fuel cell, removing the need for complicated catalytic reforming plsu, storage of Formic Acid is much easier and safer than that of hydrogen because it does not need to be done at high pressures and (or) low temperatures.

It is also a significant combustion product resulting from alternatively fuelled vehicles burning methanol and ethanol when mixed with gasoline.

Redox can supply Formic Acid in 25kg carboys and 1200kg IBC’s.

If you’d like to know more, please contact one of our industry specialists today

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