In its largest-scale application (source Wikipedia) , chloroacetic acid is used to prepare the thickening agent carboxymethyl cellulose and carboxymethyl starch.
Chloroacetic acid is also used in the production of drugs, dyes, and pesticides. Most reactions take advantage of the high reactivity of the C–Cl bond. It is the precursor to the herbicide glyphosate, and the herbicides MCPA (2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid) and dimethoate are prepared by alkylation with chloroacetic acid. Chloroacetic acid is converted to chloroacetyl chloride, a precursor to adrenaline (epinephrine). Displacement of chloride by sulfide gives thioglycolic acid, which is used as a stabilizer in PVC and a component in some cosmetics.
Illustrative of its usefulness in organic chemistry is the O-alkylation of salicylaldehyde with chloroacetic acid, followed by decarboxylation of the resulting ether, producing benzofuran.
Graphite is well known for production processes of MCA thanks to its efficient corrosion resistance over wide range of temperatures and concentration.
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