Propylene glycol is a chemical that is produced by reaction of propylene oxide with water. It is a colorless, clear, almost odorless, viscous liquid which has a faint sweet taste. Propylene glycol is miscible with water, chloroform, and acetone and is hygroscopic in nature. It is chemically neutral that does not react with other substances. This property of propylene glycol makes it useful in mixing contrasting elements such as perfumes. Unique features of propylene glycol makes it useful in a wide variety of applications. It is used as solvent, holds and dissolves active ingredients equally in the medium, acts as an emulsifier and excipient, reduced freezing point and many more. Propylene glycol is manufactured in two grades namely, industrial or technical grade and USD/EP grade. It designates the requirements for the U.S. and European Pharmacopeia, but it has use in the personal care, food and feed applications. Dipropylene glycol is used in unsaturated polyester resins and personal care products and tripropylene glycol has application in acrylates and polyurethanes.
Propylene glycol is used for many industrial and consumer applications such as feed, food and beverages, pharmaceutical and cosmetic among others. The major consumers of polypropylene glycol include the pharmaceutical and food and beverage industry, which account for major share in the market. Propylene glycol is also used as a humectant, preservative in tobacco and food products, solvents and as a major constituent of e-liquid that is used in electric cigarettes with vegetable glycerin. In case of food and consumables, propylene glycol is considered to be safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As a solvent, in pharmaceutical which includes injectible, oral and topical formulations namely lorazepam, diazepam donot dissolve in water. In order to meet environment regulations or standards the industry is now focusing on developing bio-based propylene glycol. The major companies such as Cargill, ADM and The Dow Chemical company are manufacturing propylene glycol from glycerin.
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About half of the propylene glycol produced is been used as a chemical feedstock to manufacture unsaturated polyester resins. The industrial applications of propylene glycol are to manufacture paints and coatings, resins and plastics, used as an intermediate to manufacture other chemical substances such as unsaturated polyester resins that are used in pipes or windmill blades and bath and kitchenware. Moreover, it has a significant role as ingredient of formulations for heat transfer fluids, air-craft de-icing and liquid detergents.
The key segments for propylene glycol market are North America, Asia Pacific, Europe and Rest of the World (RoW). The United States, Japan, China and Western Europe are the major markets for unsaturated polyester resins which is influenced by overall health of local economies and construction industry trends. Hence growing demand for unsaturated polyester resins to boost demand for propylene glycol in the near future.
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