Production of Epoxyethane
Epoxyethane also known as ethylene oxide, is produced industrially by the above reaction. This manufacturing process is very hazardous, firstly because epoxyethanne is poisonous and carcinogenic (causes cancer), and secondly because it is very explosive upon contact with air.
Epoxyethane is very reactive becacuse of its structure. The ring between the two carbons and oxygen is very strained and the bond angle is forced to be much smaller than is normal in carbon. This means that it is very reactive; and the carbon-oxygen bond is also broken in reactions.
Epoxyethane is reacted in water with a catalyst of a very dilute acid and at a moderate temperature in the following reaction.
This reaction produces a diol, which means it has two OH alcohol groups. This reaction is of industrial importance because ethane-1,2-diol is used as car antifreeze and also in the production of polyesters.