Many companies today are working with propylene glycol in the manufacturing of plastics, polymers and polurethanes. Propylene Glycol is an organic compound (a diol or double alcohol) that is a colorless, nearly odorless, clear, viscous liquid with a faintly sweet taste, hygroscopic and miscible with water, acetone, and chloroform.
Propylene glycol is also a component in newer automotive antifreezes and de-icers used at airports. Like ethylene glycol, the freezing point of water is depressed when mixed with propylene glycol owing to the effects of dissolution of a solute in a solvent (freezing-point depression); glycols are good for this purpose as they are cheap, non-corrosive and have very low volatility.
From an application standpoint, 45% of propylene glycol produced is used as chemical feedstock for the production of unsaturated polyester resins. In this regard, propylene glycol reacts with a mixture of unsaturated maleic anhydride and isophthalic acid to give a copolymer. This partially unsaturated polymer undergoes further crosslinking to yield thermoset plastics. Related to this application, propylene glycol reacts with propylene oxide to give oligomers and polymers that are used to produce polyurethanes.
The acute oral toxicity of propylene glycol is very low, and large quantities are required to cause perceptible health damage in humans; propylene glycol is metabolized in the human body into pyruvic acid (a normal part of the glucose-metabolism process, readily converted to energy), acetic acid (handled by ethanol-metabolism), lactic acid (a normal acid generally abundant during digestion), and propionaldehyde (a potentially hazardous substance). However, this compound has been approved for use in dog food and is generally recognized as safe for dogs.
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