Acetaldehyde

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(CC) Image: David E. Volk
Acetaldehyde, the second smallest aldehyde.

Acetaldehyde, CH3CHO, also known as ethanal, is the second smallest aldehyde, second only to formaldehyde. As an aldehyde, it is a useful chemical for the addition of two carbon atoms to another chemical. It is produced biosynthetically by the reductive decarboxylation of pyruvate with the enzyme Pyruvate decarboxylase, and it can then be further reduced (by NADH) to ethanol. However, the reduction of acetaldehyde to ethanol is reversible, so that excess alcohol (ethanol) consumption leads to a build up of acetaldehyde and "hangovers".