Properties, Production and Uses of Ethylene Glycol

uses of ethylene glycol

Ethylene Glycol also called ethane-2,2-diol is a colorless flammable liquid made from the hydrolysis of epoxyethane (from Ethene). What are some of the uses of ethylene glycol?


Formula For Ethylene Glycol
The chemical formula of Ethylene Glycol is C2H6O2. Which means 2 atoms of carbon are present, 6 atoms of hydrogen are present and 2 atoms are present.


Properties Of Ethylene Glycol

– Boiling Point: The boiling point of Ethylene Glycol is 197.3 °C (387.1 °F; 470.4 K).

– Melting Point: The melting point of Ethylene Glycol is −12.9 °C (8.8 °F; 260.2 K).

– Molar mass: It’s molar mass is 62.068 g·mol−1.

– Density: The density of Ethylene Glycol is 1.1132 g/cm3.

– Odor: Ethylene Glycol is odorless.

– Appearance: Ethylene Glycol is a clear, colorless liquid.

IUPAC name:
The preferred IUPAC Name of Ethylene Glycol is Ethane-1,2-diol.

Other names:
Other names of Ethylene Glycol are:
– 1,2-Ethanediol
– Ethylene alcohol
– Hypodicarbonous acid
– Monoethylene glycol
– 1,2-Dihydroxyethane

Viscosity: The viscosity of Ethylene Glycol is 1.61×10−2 .

Solubility: Soluble in most organic solvents.

– log P: 1.69.


Uses Of Ethylene Glycol

There are several other uses of ethylene glycol especially the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. However, these underlisted uses are some of the widely known

1. Ethylene glycol is a commonly used chemical, it is used in many commercial and industrial applications including coolant and anti-freeze.
2. Ethylene glycol helps keep your car in good shape as it prevents the engine of the car from freezing in the winter and also acts as a coolant to help reduce overheating in the summer.
3. Ethylene glycol is acts as a heat transfer fluid used as industrial coolants for gas compressors, heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, and ice skating rinks.
4. Ethylene glycol is used as a raw material to produce a wide range of products like the polyester fibers for clothes, upholstery, carpet and pillows; Many of these products are recyclable, cost efficient, and saves energy.


Production Of Ethylene Glycol

Ethylene glycol was once manufactured through the hydrolysis of Ethylene Oxide (EO) which was produced through Ethylene Chlorohydrin but this method has been displaced by a direct oxidation route.

The EO is produced first by the ethylene oxidation in the presence of oxygen or air and a silver oxide catalyst. Under pressure, a crude ethylene glycol mixture is produced by the hydrolysis of EO with water. The mixture of water-glycol is fed to evaporators where the water present is then recovered and recycled. Fractional distillation under vacuum is used in the separation of monoethylene glycol from the diethylene and triethylene glycols.


Characteristics of Ethylene Glycol


1. Ethylene glycol has a similar structure to water which make it miscible in water.

2. Ethylene glycol has a low freezing point and a high boiling point and these great components are used in manufacturing industries.

3. Ethylene glycol is not expensive and it is also a miscible solvent.

4. Ethylene glycol is a long lasting compound.

5. Ethylene glycol has high heat transfer capabilities.


1. Ethylene glycol is highly flammable substance.

2. Ethylene glycol poses a possible threat of car combustion if it antifreeze leaks.

3. Ethylene glycol absorbs water rapidly and it is hard to monitor.

4. Ethylene glycol may cause harm to the environment if it is inappropriately disposed in places like runways at airports.

5. Ethylene glycol may enter into waterways and kill marine animals through industrial waste.

6. Ethylene glycol sweet taste attract kids, and domestic animals, and when taken in can cause harm to them.


Antifreeze Poisoning

Ethylene glycol is a very harmful chemical when ingested. Due to it’s sweet taste, children and pets are attracted to it. Ingesting this harmful chemical can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, irritated senses, headache, low or high blood pressure and weakness. However, if you consume antifreeze at a large quantity, it may cause cardiovascular, nerves, liver and kidney failure as well as risks of death, coma or faint. When ingested ethylene glycol breaks down into a more toxic and harmful chemical. It break downs into crystals that can gets trapped by the kidney. Another part of it breaks down into acids that disturbs the mental state and acidity level of the stomach. When an adult consumes 2 oz dosage of ethylene glycol, it can lead to death. It can also contaminate food products as it is used in making of food packages. In 1996, 60 children died in Haiti due to a cough syrup that got contaminated by ethylene glycol.

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