Definition - What does Mercaptan mean?

Mercaptan can be defined as the class of organic compounds derived from Latin mercurium captans, which are composed of an aryl or alkyl group and a thiol group. Mercaptan is SH bonded with an alkyl or aryl group and carbon and the general formula is R-SH or C-SH, where R represents the alkyl or aryl group and C represents carbon. These organic compounds are also known as thiols because of the strong bond between the thiolate group and mercury compounds.

Corrosionpedia explains Mercaptan

Mercaptans are generally present in crude petroleum in the form of methyl mercaptan, which is produced during the microorganic decomposition of animal and matter. However, significant amounts of mercaptan concentration in crude oil and hydrocarbon condensates is not at all favorable for the oil and gas industry because of their ability to corrode the stainless steel and alloys used in oil and gas infrastructure.

Different types of mercaptans present in crude oil include:

  • Methyl mercaptan also called as methanethiol (CH3SH)
  • Ethyl mercaptan / ethanethiol (CH3CH2SH)
  • Propyl mercaptan / propanethiol (CH3CH2CH2SH
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