Hydroquinone, also benzene-1,4-diol or quinol, is an aromatic organic compound which is a type of phenol, having the chemical formula C6H4(OH)2. Its chemical structure, shown in the table at right, has two hydroxyl groups bonded to a benzene ring in a para position. It is a white granular solid at room temperature and pressure.
NomenclatureHydroquinone is the name recommended by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) in its 1993 Recommendations for the Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry
PropertiesHydroquinone can undergo mild oxidation to convert to the compound parabenzoquinone, C6H4O2, often called p-quinone or simply quinone. Reduction of quinone reverses this reaction back to hydroquinone. Some biochemical compounds in nature have this sort of hydroquinone or quinone section in their structures, such as Coenzyme Q, and can undergo similar redox interconversions.
The hydroxyl groups of hydroquinone are quite weakly acidic. Hydroquinone can lose an H+ from one of the hydroxyls to form a monophenolate ion or lose an H+ from both to form a diphenolate ion.
UsesHydroquinone has a variety of uses principally associated with its action as a reducing agent which is soluble in water. It is a major component in most photographic developers where, with the compound Metol, it reduces silver halides to elemental silver.
In human medicine, hydroquinone is used as a topical application in skin whitening to reduce the color of skin as it does not have the same predisposition to cause dermatitis as Metol does. This use is banned in some countries (e.g. France) because of fears of a cancer risk.
The disodium diphenolate salt of hydroquinone is used as an alternating comonomer unit in the production of the polymer PEEK.
As a polymerization inhibitor, hydroquinone prevents polymerization of acrylic acid, methyl methacrylate, etc.
It is also used as a raw material of herbicides, rubber antioxidants and dye stuffs.
Natural occurrencesHydroquinones are one of the two primary reagents in the defensive glands of bombardier beetles, along with hydrogen peroxide (and perhaps other chemicals, depending on the species), which collect in a reservoir. The reservoir opens through a muscle-controlled valve onto a thick-walled reaction chamber. This chamber is lined with cells that secrete catalases and peroxidases. When the contents of the reservoir are forced into the reaction chamber, the catalases and peroxidases rapidly break down the hydrogen peroxide and catalyze the oxidation of the hydroquinones into p-quinones. These reactions release free oxygen and generate enough heat to bring the mixture to the boiling point and vaporize about a fifth of it, producing a hot spray from the beetle's abdomen.
hydroquinone in Czech: Hydrochinon
hydroquinone in German: Hydrochinon
hydroquinone in Spanish: Hidroquinona
hydroquinone in French: Hydroquinone
hydroquinone in Latvian: Hidrohinons
hydroquinone in Dutch: Hydrochinon
hydroquinone in Japanese: ヒドロキノン
hydroquinone in Polish: Hydrochinon
hydroquinone in Portuguese: Hidroquinona
hydroquinone in Russian: Гидрохинон
hydroquinone in Finnish: Hydrokinoni
hydroquinone in Swedish: Hydrokinon