Chemical Structure / July 5, 2018 / Gabriela Rodriquez
Propylene glycol, also called 1,2-propanediol, resembles ethylene glycol in its physical properties. Unlike ethylene glycol, however, propylene glycol is not toxic and is used extensively in foods, cosmetics, and oral hygiene products as a solvent, preservative, and moisture-retaining agent. Propylene glycol is manufactured in large amounts from propylene oxide, which is obtained from propylene.
This reaction can be catalyzed by either acids or bases, or can occur at neutral pH under elevated temperatures. The highest yields of ethylene glycol occur at acidic or neutral pH with a large excess of water. Under these conditions, ethylene glycol yields of 90% can be achieved. The major byproducts are the oligomers diethylene glycol, triethylene glycol, and tetraethylene glycol. The separation of these oligomers and water is energy-intensive. About 6.7 million tonnes are produced annually.
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