Petrochemicals are used to manufacture thousands of different products that people use daily, including plastics, medicines, cosmetics, furniture, appliances, electronics, solar power panels, and wind turbines.
A petrochemical is any chemical manufactured from crude oil and natural gas as distinct from fuels and other products (Speight, 2014, 2019a), derived from crude oil and natural gas, and used for a variety of commercial purposes. The definition has been broadened to include the whole range of organic chemicals.
Ethylene is one of the most widely used plant growth hormones in agriculture. But, due to its gaseous nature and high diffusion rate, ethylene cannot be administered to plants without confining them in closed chambers and it is very difficult to be applied in gaseous form in the field.
However, this problem has been overcome due to availability of some synthetic chemical compounds which when sprayed on plants in aqueous solution are readily absorbed and trans located within them and breakdown to release ethylene. One such most commonly used chemical compound is ethephon (2-chIoro ethylphosphonic acid) which is known by various trade names such as ethrel. Ethephon is stable at low pH, but slowly breaks down at pH 4 or more. Since, the pH of plant cells is less acidic. ethephon breaks down in plant cells and releases ethylene which exerts its hormonal effect.
Propylene (C3H6) is a colourless fuel gas with a naturally pungent smell. Although similar to propane, it has a double bond which gives it a combustion advantage i.e. it burns hotter. This fuel gas is extremely flammable and non-toxic. Propylene is obtained during the refining of gasoline. But it can also be produced by splitting, cracking and reforming hydrocarbon mixtures.
Propylene is an attractive alternative to propane for heating and cutting due to its superior combustion performance. It is also widely used as a fuel gas for high-velocity oxygen fuel (HVOF) processes. In addition, the chemical and plastics industries rely on propylene as a fuel gas.
Non-fuel applications include organic synthesis to produce materials such as acetone. Propylene can be polymerised to form polypropylene plastic. It can also be employed as a refrigerant, or in calibration mixtures and as a chemical intermediate. In addition, it is used for efficiency testing of gas burners and engines.
Conditioning agents are ingredients that add a layer of softness or improved texture to your hair or skin. They’re also called moisturizers or, in the case of butylene glycol, humectants. Butylene glycol works to condition skin and hair by coating the surface of your cells.
Benzene is a widely used industrial chemical. Benzene is found in crude oil and is a major part of gasoline. It’s used to make plastics, resins, synthetic fibers, rubber lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs and pesticides. Benzene is produced naturally by volcanoes and forest fires.
Toluene is used in making paints, paint thinners, fingernail polish, lacquers, adhesives, and rubber and in some printing and leather tanning processes. Toluene is an aromatic hydrocarbon composed of a benzene ring linked to one methyl group.
What Is Xylene?
Xylene is a colorless liquid and vapor. Xylene is not soluble in water and will float on top of denser water if combined. It is flammable at room temperature. It was named after xylong, the Greek word for wood, because it was found in crude wood spirit. The chemical formula for xylene is C8H10, or more specifically (C6H4)(CH3)2. Other synonyms for xylene are dimethyl benzene, methyl toluene, xylol and mixed xylenes. Xylene’s structure consists of two methyl groups attached to a six-carbon ring. There are three main isomers of xylene, called ortho-xylene, meta-xylene and paraxylene. A fourth isomer is ethylbenzene. Meta-xylene is a main component of commercial-grade xylene. Paraxylene boasts a number of uses in the polymer industry.
Xylene is heavier than air. It is a volatile liquid giving off its gas. The nauseatingly sweet smell of xylene serves as a warning for its toxic nature. This smell can be detected in air concentrations as low as one part per million (PPM)! Xylene can react with strong acids and oxidizers.
Uses of Xylene
Xylene is one of the top chemicals produced in the U.S., and it is commonly derived from crude petroleum. There are many uses of xylene, both in its pure state and in compounds. It is widely used in several industries as well as in dental and medical arenas.
In histology, xylene is used to process and stain tissues. These tissues can then be used in microscopy. This aids histopathology technicians who look at tissues to determine the presence of disease. In tissue processing, tissue has to be embedded in a medium (such as paraffin) to support it and allow it to be cut without damaging the tissue. Fixed tissue is then dehydrated, removing water from the tissue by escalating grades of alcohol. Alcohol, however, is not miscible with paraffin (something that is miscible can mix well with another substance). As it happens, xylene is highly miscible with paraffin. The reason xylene works so well for tissue processing is that it makes tissues transparent so that paraffin can fully envelop the tissue. And when preparing slides for microscopy, xylene can remove any remaining wax from slides. In this case it is used as clearing agent. This helps with slide staining so that features of the tissue are more easily viewed under a microscope. While there are proposed alternatives to xylene in tissue processing, it is still considered the best chemical for tissue processing and staining purposes.
One of the chief uses of xylene is as a lubricant, and it is so used in motor oil or brake fluid. Xylene’s powerful solvent properties are used in printing, rubber and leather processing. Xylene is a component of lubricants in motor oil, paints and paint thinners, polishes, waxes, antifreeze, sealants, adhesives, and even gasoline and cigarettes. Xylene is used in some glue. Xylene is also used as a cleaner.
Additional uses of xylene include its addition to pesticides and disinfectants.