Phenol

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Information @ a Glance

General
  • Phenol (CAS No. 108-95-2) is the compound in which one hydrogen atom of the benzene molecule is replaced by a hydroxyl group (C6H5OH). Phenols are aromatic alcohols, alcohols in which the hydroxy group is directly attached to the aryl ring.  This is evident from the old name for phenol: “carbolic acid”.
  • Phenol’s chemical formula is C6H5OH and as a solid it is a white crystalline compound. Phenol has a sweet odour which enables it to be used in an air freshener.
  • Phenols, sometimes called phenolics, are a class of chemical compounds consisting of a hydroxyl group  attached to an aromatic hydrocarbon group.
  • Phenols and Phenolic compounds are a class of chemicals consisting of a hydroxyl group attached to an aromatic hydrocarbon group. Phenol is a white to colourless crystalline solid that melts at 43°C. It is soluble in most organic solvents and in water.

Process

  • Phenol has been obtained by distillation from petroleum and synthesis by oxidation of cumene or toluene, and by vapor-phase hydrolysis of chlorobenzene .
  • Sources of Phenol : from cumene (isopropylbenzene) by hydrolysis of its hydroperozide; byproduct is acetone, from benzenesulfonic acid by fusion with NaOH, above 300oC, then acidification, from chlorobenzene by high T, P reaction with NaOH, then acidification Laboratory Preparations, from the aryl diazonium salt by hydrolysis (water, 100oC); from the aniline, from the nitroaromatic.
  • Phenol was first isolated from coal tar in the coking of coal, but the first commercial process was the sulphonation of benzene and subsequent fusion with caustic soda. Most phenol today is synthesized under an indirect three-step process (called the cumene method).

Application

  • Phenols are widely used in industry, and are found in many common materials including: antiseptics ,medical preparations ,resins ,plastics ,cosmetics ,health aids ,foods and beverages.

  • The major use of phenol is in the production of phenolic resins and bisphenol Phenol is also used as a disinfectant and in medicinal preparations. The largest use for phenol is in low cost, versatile resins.

  • They are mainly thermoset resins used in plywood adhesion, construction and the motorcar industry. Phenol is also a powerful disinfectant and bacteria killer.

  • Phenol is also used to make chemical intermediates for a wide range of other applications, ranging from plastics to pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals.

Market

  • The world market for phenol is 10.7 million t/y.  Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China consume about 35% and the US and Canada use about 30%. The largest use is for the automobile, consumer and electronics industries. The second largest use in the US is for phenolic resins for oriented strand board. Worldwide growth in phenol is forecast at 4.5% over the next 5 years mainly in China.
  • The main use for phenol is to make Bispenol A for polycarbonate resins. The leading buyers of phenol for this purpose are GE Plastics and Bayer, each using more than 500,000 t/y in plants throughout the world. Almost one million t/y of phenol is used to make phenolic resins. Borden Chemical buys more than one third, 350,000 t/y. Georgia Pacific and Dynea each buy about 200,000 t/y.
  • The largest market for phenol is BPA which is driven by the strong growth in polycarbonate resins, accounting for two-thirds of BPA demand. The growth in optical media such as compact discs (CDs), CD-ROMs, recordable CDs and digital versatile discs (DVDs) has been the driving force in polycarbonate demand.

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