Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Formic Acid

  • Kensei KobayashiEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_586-4



Formic acid is a carboxylic acid, whose chemical formula is HCOOH (Fig. 1). It has a dissociation constant in water (p K a) of 3.74. It dissolves readily in water and is slightly soluble in hydrocarbons. It is mostly present as dimers in hydrocarbon solvents and in the gas phase. It can react as a reducing agent. It dissociates to carbon monoxide and water upon heating or by the addition of sulfuric acid. In an early report on the abiotic synthesis of organic compounds, Garrison et al. ( 1951) reported that formic acid was produced by helium ion irradiation of an aqueous solution containing CO 2 and Fe 2+. Formate is also produced by the hydrolysis of HCN or formamide. Melting point, −8.4 °C; boiling point, 101 °C; density, 1.22 g cm −3.


Aqueous Solution Melting Point Organic Compound Sulfuric Acid Carbon Monoxide 
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References and Further Reading

  1. Garrison WM, Morrison DC, Hamilton JG, Benson AA, Calvin M (1951) Reduction of carbon dioxide in aqueous solutions by ionizing radiation. Science 114:416–418CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yokohama National UniversityYokohamaJapan