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Phenol, also known as carbolic acid, is an aromatic organic compound with the molecular formula C6H5OH. It is a white crystalline solid that is volatile. The molecule consists of a phenyl group(−C6H5)bonded to a hydroxyl group (−OH). It is mildly acidic and requires careful handling due to its propensity to cause chemical burns.
Phenol was first extracted from coal tar, but today is produced on a large scale (about 7 billion kg/year) from petroleum. It is an important industrial commodity as a precursor to many materials and useful compounds. It is primarily used to synthesize plastics and related materials. Phenol and its chemical derivatives are essential for production of polycarbonates, epoxies, Bakelite, nylon, detergents, herbicides such as phenoxy herbicides, and numerous pharmaceutical drugs.
Although similar to alcohols, phenols have unique properties. Unlike alcohols, where the hydroxyl group is bound to a saturated carbon atom, phenols have the hydroxyl group attached to an unsaturated aromatic (alternating double and single bond) hydrocarbon benzene ring. Phenols have greater acidity than alcohols because of the stabilization of the conjugate base through resonance in the aromatic ring.
Because of the commercial value of phenol, many production methods have been developed. The main route of 95% (2003) production is cumene process, which partially oxidizes cumene (cumene) by Hock rearrangement: C6H5CH (ch3) 2 + O2 C6H5OH + (ch3) 2co.
Therefore, acetone is produced as a by-product. Compared with most other processes, the cumene process uses relatively mild synthesis conditions and relatively inexpensive sintering materials. However, in order to operate economically, there must be demand for by-products of benzyl alcohol and acetone.
In addition to being demonstrated in technology, the main use of phenol is that it can be converted into the precursor of plastics, consuming two-thirds of its production. Bisphenol A was synthesized by condensation reaction with acetone, which is the main precursor of polycarbonate and epoxy resin. Phenol, alkylphenol or bisphenol react with formaldehyde resin, one of the famous examples is phenolic resin. The partial hydrogenation of phenol yields cyclohexanone, a precursor of nylon. Non-ionic detergents are produced by alkylation of P. Phenols form alkylphenols, such as nonylphenols, which are then ethoxylated.
Of course, phenol is also a widely existing drug, especially aspirin, but there are also many herbicides and medicines. Phenol is also used as an anorexic anesthetic/analgesic in products such as clozapine or other brands and general equivalents, usually for temporary treatment of pharyngitis.
Because phenol is cheap, it can be used for many small-scale applications. From the early 20th century to the 1970s, it was widely used as a preservative, especially as carbonated soap. It is a component of industrial paint remover and is used to remove epoxy resin, polyurethane, and other chemical resistant coatings in the aviation industry. Phenol derivatives are also used in the preparation of cosmetics, including sunscreen, chromogenic agents, and skin care agents.
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