Butyl glycol also known as 2-Butoxyethanol is acolourless, slightly hygroscopic, neutral, high-boiling, low-volatility liquid with a mild odour that is used as a solvent and starting material for many reactions. In addition to that, it is used as a solvent for aqueous coating systems (water-based paints). Butyl glycol belongs to the family of glycol ethers. Glycol ethers consist of two components, an alcohol andether. According to the nature of alcohol, molecules of this class can be divided into two groups: E series and P series which correspond to ethylene and propylene respectively. Butyl glycol belongs to E series of glycol ethers. Butyl glycol is miscible with water and common organic solvents in all proportions at room temperature. It shows the reactions typically shown by alcohols, such as esterification, etherification, oxidation and formation of acetates and like most ethers, it forms peroxides in the presence of atmospheric oxygen.
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The growth of water-based coatings that use glycol ethers as coalescing agents has been the major factor behind the growth of the butyl glycol market. In the major regions of the world, growth has been primarily for the butyl products such as butyl glycol; the methyl and ethyl product groups have been in decline. This decline has been primarily due to the increased concern about the toxicological effects of some ethylene oxide–based glycol ethers. Butyl glycol is a mildly hazardous chemical owing to which, care must be taken during its handling.
Based on geography, the market of butyl glycol can be segmented as follows: In 2009, the United States was the world’s largest producer, consumer and exporter of E-series glycol ethers, including butyl glycol; however, by 2013, China became the largest consumer, followed by the United States, Western Europe and Japan. The United States continues to be the largest producer and exporter of butyl glycol. According to market forecasts, growth in butyl glycol consumption will be greatest in China, during 2013–2018, followed by the Middle East and other countries in Asia (excluding China and Japan) .
Butyl glycol is used as a solvent in ink and coating industry. It is also used as a solvent in lacquer thinners. Butyl glycol is a low volatility solvent, hence it is used to extend the drying time of coatings and it is also used to increase their flow properties. It is very useful for paints based on cellulose nitrate or cellulose ethers. It improves the brushability of certain paints such as alkyd resin paints and reduces their viscosity. Additionally, it improves the flow of urea and melamine Butyl glycol lowers the minimum film forming temperature and improves the evaporation behavior of the volatile constituents during hot air or infra red drying. Further application of butyl glycol are: it is used as a solvent in printing inks, it is a component in surface cleaners and is used to degrease metal surfaces, it is component in hydraulic fluids and drilling oils, it is used as an accelerator in the manufacture of butyl glycol acetate which is also a solvent and it is also used an acceleratorfor the production of plasticizers among others.
The major players in the market of butyl glycol are: Eastman Chemicals Co, LyondellBasell, BASF AG, Asia Pacific Petrochemicals Co Ltd, Dow Chemicals, Parsidan Chemicals Co, Paras Dyes and Chemicals, Beijing East Guangming Chemical Co., Ltd. and QingdaoSanlianxiang Chemical Co., Ltd among others
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