Introduction to Aromatic Compounds

Aromatic compounds are a class of hydrocarbons that possess much greater stability than their conjugated unsaturated system suggests. The simplest example of this class of compounds, benzene, was isolated from illuminating gas by Michael Faraday in 1825. In the years to follow, this compound and homologues were isolated by the distillation of resin gums from balsam trees. Because many of the resin gums had fragrant aromas, these compounds were often called aromatic compounds or aromatic hydrocarbons. In 1845, August Von Hofmann isolated benzene from coal tar. This isolation method remained the chief source of benzene until the 1950s. Today, most benzene is produced from petroleum.