Some of the top players in formic acid are BASF, Eastman chemical company, and Feicheng acid chemicals. When studied geographically Europe, especially Germany and Mainland China are the top suppliers for formic acid in the world.
- With methyl formate and formamide – When methanol reacts with water, methyl formate is formed. This on further hydrolysis gives formic acid.
CH3OH + CO → HCO2CH3
HCO2CH3 + H2O → HCO2H + CH3OH
- Ammonia can be used. Methyl formate reacts with ammonia to form formamide, which on treatment with sulphuric acid gives formic acid.
HCO2CH3 + NH3 → HC(O)NH2 + CH3OH
2 HC(O)NH2 + 2H2O + H2SO4 → 2HCO2H + (NH4)2SO4
Many manufacturers use the first route to avoid the formation of by-products formed in the second route.
- In the laboratory, formic acid can be obtained by heating oxalic acid in glycerol. Glycerol acts as a catalyst, as the reaction proceeds through a glyceryl oxalate intermediary.
C2O4H2 → CO2H2 + CO