Pentaerythritol – an organic compound

Pentaerythritol is an organic compound with the formula C(CH2OH)4. It is an odorless white solid. Classified as a polyol, it is a white solid. Pentaerythritol is a building block for the synthesis and production of explosives, plastics, paints, appliances, cosmetics, and many other commercial products. It is a material with several interesting features. Its heat of crystalline transition is as large as the heat of fusion of ice and it is not costly, because it is produced on a relatively large scale as a chemical commodity.

The word pentaerythritol is a blend of penta- in reference to its 5 carbon atoms and erythritol, which also possesses 4 alcohol groups. It is a simple five-carbon tetraol used in the fabrication of resins, alkylated resins, varnishes, PVC stabilizers, tall oil esters, and olefin antioxidants. It is an interesting compound that allows for the attachment of four groups and, hence, the construction of highly branched structures.


  • Formula mass: 136.15
  • Melting point, °C: 47 – 49
  • Boiling point, °C: 380
  • Density: 1.511 g/cm3
  • Solubility in water: 60 g/L
  • Heat of fusion: 5.3 kJ/mol
  • Heat of vaporization: 72.7 kJ/mol
  • Heat of combustion: -2769 kJ/mol


Pure pentaerythritol, prepared from the purified tetranitrate, is stated to melt at 260°. Pentaerythritol can be prepared by condensing acetaldehyde with formaldehyde in aqueous solution by means of calcium hydroxide or barium hydroxide.


Pentaerythritol is a versatile building block for the preparation of many polyfunctionalized compounds. It is multifaceted species in many compounds, which are wildly utilized in medicine and industry. Derivatives of pentaerythritol are components of alkyd resins, varnishes, polyvinyl chloride stabilizers, tall oil esters, antioxidants (e.g. Anox 20). It can be found in transformer oil, plastics, paints, cosmetics, and many other applications.

  • Polyester derivatives

Pentaerythritol is a precursor to esters of the type C(CH2OX)4. One such derivative is pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), a vasodilator and explosive. The trinitrate derivative is called pentrinitrol (Petrin). The tetraacetate is called normosterol (PAG). The polymer cross-linking agent pentaerythritol tetraacrylate.

  • Fire retardants

Pentaerythritol is used as a fire retardant, such as in plastics. It produces a thick carbon barrier upon heating, protecting the surface substrate.

Pentaerythritol is one of the most common main active components in intumescent paints and coatings. It acts as a carbon donor and together with an acid donor, most commonly ammonium polyphosphate (APP), and a blowing agent, most commonly melamine.

It is also used in the silvering of mirrors, leather tanning, and in fuel compositions, preservatives, paper processing, glues, cosmetics, dyes, plastics, rubber, and as a flavoring agent.

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