Schmidlin ketene synthesis

What is Schmidlin ketene synthesis?

Schmidlin and Bergman reported the first observation of this reaction in 1910. The Schmidlin ketene synthesis involves the gaseous production of ketene through the thermal or pyrogenic decomposition of acetone in a combustion tube filled with clay pieces at temperatures ranging from 500 to 750 ºC. At these high temperatures, acetone decomposes into ketene and methane.

Schmidlin ketene synthesis

The yield of ketene in this reaction is affected by three primary factors: the choice of combustion tube, the reaction temperature, and the extent of acetone decomposition. It is important to note that using a metal tube, such as a copper or iron pipe, is unsuitable due to the formation of carbon via dehydrogenation in the presence of certain metal oxides. Although the quartz static system is a suitable reaction environment for ketene synthesis, the yield of ketenes is comparable to that produced in a glass tube.


Schmidlin, J. and Bergman, M. (1910), Darstellung des Ketens aus Aceton. “Preparation of ketene from acetone” Ber. Dtsch. Chem. Ges., 43: 2821-2823.