From brake fluid to skin lotions, Diethylene glycol is a widely used and versatile industrial chemical

From brake fluid to skin lotions, Diethylene glycol is a widely used and versatile industrial chemical

Diethylene glycol is derived as a co-product with ethylene glycol and triethylene glycol.

The process of producing diethylene glycol, consists of the oxidation of ethylene at a high temperature in the presence of a silver oxide catalyst. The ethylene oxide is then hydrated to yield diethylene glycol and its by-products.

Diethylene glycol is a clear, colourless, odourless and viscous liquid. It is soluble in water and in many other organic solvents.

Diethylene glycol is a versatile industrial chemical used:

  • In manufacturing process of saturated and unsaturated polyester resins and plasticisers. Typical applications are ropes, carpets and PET products such as beverage containers.
  • As a solvent for many relatively insoluble substances.
  • As a component in brake fluid, lubricants, wallpaper strippers, heating fuel and cooking fuel.
  • In personal care products for example skin lotions, various creams and deodorants.
  • As a building block in organic synthesis of morpholine. Morpholine has multiple uses, it is used in organic synthesis, it is an agent used for fruit ripening as well as a component in some fungicides.
  • In the tobacco industry which makes use of diethylene glycols hygroscopic properties and uses it as humectant in tobacco production. Additionally, this property allows it to be applied in the treatment of paper, cork, glue, and cellophane.
  • As a dehydrant in the natural gas industry where it removes the water from the gas pipelines.
  • As a cement grinding aid as well as drywall joint compound. All-purpose joint compound is the wet material that is applied for drywall installation to adhere paper joint tape, fill joints, and to top paper and mesh joint tapes, as well as for plastic and metal corner beads. It can also be used to repair holes and cracks in drywall and plaster.
  • In petroleum solvent extraction. Solvent extraction is a process which involves extracting oil from oil-bearing materials by treating it with a low boiler solvent. The solvent extraction method recovers almost all the oils and leaves behind very little residual oil in the raw material.
  • In the commercial preparation of a number of consumer products. These include antifreeze, brake fluid, cigarettes, and some dyes.

Is diethylene glycol toxic?

Diethylene glycol, comparably to several other chemicals does pose a danger to humans. There are various ways in which you can be exposed to the chemical. The most common exposure diethylene glycol vapors to the eyes which can cause irritation. A more serious liquid exposure can further result in corneal injury, swollen eyelids or corneal inflammation. Using protective eyewear when using diethylene glycol is vital. In addition to eye irritation, inhalation of sufficient levels of vapor could lead to irritation and uncomfortable respiration when a high concentration of diethylene glycol is inhaled. Because di/ethylene glycol is odourless, there is no warning provided by the odour and those exposed have no warning or indication that they are being exposed to a hazardous concentration.

In the event of diethylene glycol being accidentally ingested, a person can suffer from di/ethylene glycol poisoning. The early effects include nausea and possibly vomiting, intoxication and stomach pain. As symptoms progress patients might experience a decrease in their level of consciousness, headaches and possibly seizures.

Di/ethylene glycol is chemically broken down by the body into toxic compounds. Ethylene glycol and its toxic byproducts initially affect the central nervous system (CNS), then the heart, and finally the kidneys. Ingestion over a certain amount of this chemical can prove to be fatal. Therefore, if someone you know accidentally ingests diethylene glycol, you should get them medical attention as soon as possible.

Chemtoll Chemical Toll Manufacturers is a Cape Town based Level 1 BBBE and ISO 9001 accredited expert in the supply and manufacturing of bulk chemicals including diethylene glycol. As your trusted partner in bulk chemical manufacturing, Chemtoll is the perfect toll manufacturer for your needs. We will help you to not only produce a quality product, but also to perfect your recipes and formulas. Contact us on +27 21 842 2963 for a need’s analysis, a comprehensive quote, or for more information on diethylene glycol or the other products we offer.

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