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2-Propanol  (updated in 2010)

CAS no 67-63-0

Synonyms
Isopropanol
IPA
Isopropylalcohol
Sec-propylalcohol

Physical data
Melting point: -86░C
Boiling point: 82░C
Vapour pressure: 4.4 kPa(20░C)
Water solubility: indefinite

Isopropanol is a colourless, flammable liquid with a rather pungent smell. The smell is noticeable at atmosphere concentrations down to 3 ppm. Next to methanol and ethanol it is the lightest and smallest alcohol. Isopropanol is a secondary alcohol, i.e. the hydroxyl group is on the middle carbon of the molecule. Alcohols, through their hydroxyl group, are soluble in water at the same time as they are partly insoluble in hydrocarbons, and so they are very useful as solubility mediators for mixing water-soluble and water-insoluble substances with each other. Isopropanol is also the most commonly used alcohol next to methanol and ethanol, and more often than not it can be used instead of ethanol as a solvent. Since it lacks the toxicity of methanol and is not subject to restrictions like ethanol, it is commonly used as a solvent for many different types of products.

Isopropanol was the first chemical to be produced petrochemically on a commercial basis. It is still produced from propene from decomposed petroleum. World production capacity in 2003 amounted to 2,350,000 tonnes. The USA accounted for 37%, the EU for 36% and Japan for 20%. Like ethanol, this substance can also be manufactured by fermentation of carbohydrates.

About half of all isopropanol in the world is used as raw material for synthesis, above all in the production of acetone, though this application is diminishing, and for the production of hydrogen peroxide. Isopropanol is a good deal more common than n-propanol for production of propyl derivates. Common isopropyl esters are isopropyl acetate and isopropyl myristate, used for example in cosmetics, isopropylxanthate for flotation in mines and isopropylnitrate and –nitrite as starting additives for fuels. By making, for example, tetraisopropoxytitanate and aluminium triisopropoxide, metals can, through the mediation of the isopropyl group, be introduced in systems based on organic solvents which would not otherwise dissolve metals like titanium and aluminium Thus introduced, the substances can serve there among other things as catalysts in polymerisation processes.

Use of diisopropylether as an oxygen-rich ingredient of fuel may come to be a new major sales opening for isopropanol as a raw material for synthesis.

As a solvent isopropanol is used in products of all kinds. It has also been approved for use as a solvent for food additives. The substance is used for extraction of natural products such as fat, oil, rubbers and waxes. Large quantities are used in Sweden as rinsing liquid and for other cleaning purposes. It is included in many cosmetic preparations, in perfumes and in various table water where it has a cooling effect. Isopropanol is roughly twice as effective a disinfectant as ethanol and is used as such in large quantities.

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