Ethylene oxide Sector Group
The Ethylene Oxide & Derivatives Producers Association (EO & Glycols)
Uses and properties
Ethylene oxide alone or in combination with other inert gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen is used to sterilise instruments for the healthcare, publication and wood products sectors. Ethylene oxide is also used in other industries where heat-sensitive goods are sterilised and in the manufacture of choline chloride, glycol ethers and polyglycols. Other minor uses world-wide include its application in the manufacture of rocket propellant and petroleum demulsifiers.
The major use of ethylene oxide is in the manufacture of ethylene glycol, which is used as a chemical intermediate in the manufacture of polyesters for fibres, films, bottles etc. with a further 25% used as antifreeze in engine coolants. Ethylene glycol is also used as a plasticiser for adhesives, as a softener for cellulose film, and as solvents in paint, printing inks and adhesives. Ethylene glycol has also specialised applications as glycoborates in electrolytic condensers, glycol dinitrate in explosives, various heat transfer applications, hydraulic brake fluids, humectant in inks, antifreeze and plasticiser in paints and to reduce gelling of medium oil alkyds based on pentaerythritol.
Issues and regulations
An “Ethylene Oxide & Glycol” REACH Consortium was formed through which the manufacturers have joined efforts to prepare by 30 November 2010 consistent registration dossiers covering ethylene oxide and its derivatives.
Lead Company is BASF.
The sector group is pro-actively managing regulatory and environmental responsibilities:
- Health: SCOEL / Occupational Exposure Limits, Classification issues
- Environment: CO2 emissions (benchmarks), Industrial Emissions Directive (BREF)
- Exchanging non-confidential safety information about the production and handling of ethylene oxide.
- Promoting the standing of the ethylene oxide and ethylene glycols industry in a socially responsible manner.
- Informing consumers and those involved in the handling of the products on its properties and functionality.
- Encouraging the safe and proper use of ethylene oxide by developing and publishing appropriate technical information.
- Maintaining a high level of technical understanding by identifying and managing research into health and environmental effects and assessing risks in use.
- Organising and funding toxicology projects, especially in the field of developmental toxicity research, in collaboration with the US Ethylene Oxide and Ethylene Glycol Industry Panels, (eg. the US Ethylene Glycol Panel).
- Presenting a positive image of ethylene oxide and ethylene glycols to the industry, authorities and the public.
- Developing a common position on major issues of the industry for presentation to regulators, opinion leaders and other concerned bodies.
- Developing product stewardship programmes following the Responsible Care principles.
Paul Teheux, Sector Group Manager
tel. + 32 2 676 7258
Chairman: Dr T Volkmer, Clariant International