Toluene is an organic compound with C6H5CH3 as its molecular formula and with molecular mass 92.141 g/mol. At room temperature, it is liquid, healing colored, solvent in water, with a similar odor to thinner. Methyl benzene is One of the most important products of the chemical industry worldwide, and many materials are derived from it. The variety of this product derivatives of petrochemicals and their use in various industries has made this product a strategic commodity. And so the price fluctuations of Phenyl methane affects many of the manufacturing industries.
Low amounts of methylbenzene are naturally present in crude oil. but in refinery processes, methylbenzene is produced as a byproduct of the gasoline production process by a catalytic reformer or ethylene cracker; It is also a byproduct of the production of coke from coal. At the end, the separation of this component can be done using conventional separation techniques such as distillation or extraction.
Preparation of this product is generally used to produce benzene or para-xylene to produce polyethylene terephthalate (PET), resins or toluene diisocyanates (TDI) which is used to produce polyurethane. It is also widely used as a solvent in many industries. A major part of toluene production is currently used to produce refined products, especially gasoline. Sometimes this component is added to the gasoline mixture to increase the octane number. The global production capacity is projected to increase over the years 2017-2022. But growth is concentrated in developing countries, and we will not see growth in the Americas, Western Europe or Japan. In the chart below, you can see the share of each region from the global market.
physical and chemical properties of Toluene
In the table below some of the chemical and physical properties of this product are mentioned. All data that is mentioned in this table is gathered from Wikipedia website:
Applications of Toluene
Petrochemical industry: To produce high-purity benzene and heavier aromatics can use this material as feedstock. Benzene is also another upstream aromatic composition of the petrochemical industry, which is widely used by many industries.
Solvent: methylbenzene is commonly used as a solvent. This solvent is used in industries such as paint, leather, printing, glue and many other chemical industries.
Foam: One of the main uses of this product is the production of dinitrotoluene that is used in toluene diisocyanate production.
Fuel: Refineries use this product in the same way of xylene as an octane booster for gasoline. In the 80’s, methylbenzene forms 86% of the fuel used in the Formula One racing for turbocharged engines.
Niche applications: In laboratory applications, toluene is also used as a solvent. Especially as a solvent for nano-structure carbons. Also from this combination to order break open red blood cells in order to extract hemoglobin in biochemistry experiments. Sometimes, due to its good thermal transfer properties in the laboratory, toluene uses it as a coolant.
Explosive: Trinitrotoluene explosive synthesis requires toluene. it is nitrated to dinitrotoluene, which is then nitrated to trinitrotoluene.