Ethylene Glycol

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Definition - What does Ethylene Glycol mean?

Ethylene glycol is a chemical compound that has an alcohol with two -OH groups. Its chemical formula is C2H4(OH)2. It is a colorless syrupy liquid, toxic and has a sweet taste. It is primarily used as a raw material to produce polyester fibers for the fabric industry, and polyethylene terephthalate resins (PET) used in the bottle industry. It is also used to produce antifreeze, deicing fluid and coolants for vehicles.

Ethylene glycol is also called monoethylene glycol.

Corrosionpedia explains Ethylene Glycol

Ethylene glycol is a chemical compound containing alcohol. It is made from ethylene, through the intermediate ethylene oxide. Ethylene oxide reacts with water to produce ethylene glycol according to the chemical equation:

C2H4O + H2O --> HO–CH2CH2–OH

During ethylene glycol's production process, ethylene glycol oligomers diethylene glycol, triethylene glycol and tetraethylene glycol are produced as byproducts.

Major uses of ethylene glycol include:

  • Dewatering agent to remove water vapor from natural gas.
  • Coolant and heat transfer agent, acting as a medium for convective heat transfer in cooling systems and recirculating chillers.
  • Antifreeze.
  • Precursor to polymers - primary raw material for polymer production.
  • Hydrate inhibition (desiccant).

Ethylene glycol is a source of corrosion. Most corrosion from ethylene glycol is due to the decomposition to organic acids (such as glycolic acid) at higher temperatures. Aluminum alloy corrosion in the presence of ethylene glycol is presumed to be the result of acidic attack of these acids. Impurities present in ethylene glycol also accelerate the corrosion process. This corrosion leads to clogging of pipes, pumps, and valves, which decrease system efficiency. Corrosion problems are minimized or eliminated by adding inhibitors.

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