Ostromislensky process

What is Ostromislensky process?

In 1915, Ostromislensky first reported a reaction that has since become known as the Ostromislensky process or Ostromislensky reaction. This two-step process involves the conversion of ethanol into acetaldehyde and then into crotonaldehyde, which is the key step for the production of 1,3-butadiene.

Ostromislensky process - general reaction scheme
Ostromislensky process

The Ostromislensky process is used in the industrial manufacture of 1,3-butadiene, where a mixture of approximately 69 wt% ethanol, 24 wt% acetaldehyde, and 7 wt% water is passed over a tanta catalyst supported on silica gel at 350 ºC. This process was critical in providing over 60 % of the emergency need for 1,3-butadiene during World War II in the United States.

The silica gel plays a critical role in condensing acetaldehyde, while the Tantalum pentoxide Ta2O5 catalyst facilitates the deoxygenation of crotonaldehyde in the presence of ethanol EtOH. Alternatively, zirconia can also be used as a catalyst for this reaction.

The industrial significance of Ostromislensky process lies in its ability to produce 1,3-butadiene for use in rubber manufacturing.


Ostromislensky, L. I., J. Russ. Phys. Chem. Soc., 1915, 47, 1494