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  • Phthalic anhydride is the organic compound with the formula C6H4(CO)2O. This anhydride of phthalic acid, a colourless solid, is an important industrial chemical, especially for the large-scale production of plasticizers.

  • Phthalic anhydride is a white (lustrous needles) solid that is slightly soluble in water.

  • Phthalic anhydride, the anhydride form of phthalic acid , is produced by the oxidation of orthoxylene and naphthalene.


  • Phthalic anhydride was first produced by the oxidation of naphthalene in concentrated sulphuric acid in the presence of mercury sulphate. This way was later replaced by the catalytic vapour phase oxidation of naphthalene in air in the presence of a vanadium oxide catalyst.

  • Phthalic anhydride is manufactured from either o-xylene or naphtalene. Using o-xylene as feed two processes are used: they are fixed bed vapor-phase oxidation and liquid-phase oxidation. Using naphtalene as feed also two processes are used: Fixed bed vapor-phase oxidation and Fluidized bed vapor-phase oxidation.


  • Phthalic anhydride is used in the manufacture of alkyd resins for paints and varnishes and also in unsaturated polyester resins.

  • Phthalic anhydride finds applications as Dye intermediate and also in the manufacture of pigments.

  • Phthalic anhydride is used in the manufacture of Tetrachloro Phthalic Anhydride which finds applications in reactive fire retardant in unsaturated polyesters.

  • It is used to make simple esters widely used as plasticizers and also in making unsaturated polyester resins, alkyd resins, polyester polyols, dyes and pigments, halogenated anhydrides, polyetherimide resins, isatoic anhydride and insect repellents.


  • World consumption of phthalic anhydride was more than 3.5 million metric tons recently. Global capacity utilization was slightly higher in recent years, because of a slower pace of capacity expansions and moderate world demand. Between past five years world capacity for phthalic anhydride grew at an average annual rate of 1.5%, trailing world consumption.

  • The largest net importing region for phthalic anhydride is Southeast Asia and China is the largest importing country. The largest exporting countries are Taiwan, India and the Republic of Korea.

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