The true nitrile of malonic acid is methylene cyanide, CH 2 (CN) 2, which is obtained by distilling a mixture of cyanacetamide and phosphorus pentoxide.
It shows characteristic ketone reactions, yielding a bisulphite compound and combining with hydrocyanic acid to form the nitrile of a-oxyisosuccinic acid.
The half nitrile of malonic acid is cyanacetic acid, CN CH 2 COOH, which, in the form of its ester, may be obtained by the action of a solution of potassium cyanide on monochloracetic acid.
Its nitrile (prussic acid) has an acid character, a property not possessed by the nitriles of the other members of the series; and, by the abstraction of the elements of water from the acid,.
It also unites directly with hydrocyanic acid to form the nitrile of a-oxyisobutyric acid.
Wohl forms the oxime and converts it into an acetylated nitrile by means of acetic anhydride and sodium acetate; ammoniacal silver nitrate solution removes hydrocyanic acid and the resulting acetate is hydrolysed by acting with ammonia to form an amide, which is finally decomposed with sulphuric acid.
This compound combines with hydrocyanic acid to form a nitrile which hydrolyses to dichlorhydroxy iso-butyric acid.
His earlier work included an investigation of succinic acid, and the preparation of phenyl cyanide (benzonitrile), the simplest nitrile of the aromatic series; but later his time was mainly occupied with questions of technology and public health rather than with pure chemistry.