What is Isopropyl Alcohol?
Isopropyl alcohol is an alcohol compound with a chemical formula of C3H8O and structural formula of CH3CHOCH3. Commonly referred to as rubbing alcohol, it has a variety of uses both in industry and the home, with a density of 0.786 20kg/m3 and a molecular weight of 60.1.
Isopropyl alcohol is produced in three different ways:
- Indirect hydration: This process involves a hydration reaction between sulphuric acid and propene to produce a mixture of sulphate esters. These are then hydrolysed by steam to generate isopropyl alcohol, which can then be distilled to increase concentration.
A common by-product in this reaction – diisopropyl ether – can be recycled back into the reaction and eventually converted to isopropyl alcohol. This process can use low-quality propene and predominates in America.
- Direct hydration: This method involves a hydration reaction directly between water and propene, without the intervention of sulphuric acid. This reaction is typically conducted at high pressure in the presence of acidic catalysts.
Similarly, the solution can then be distilled to increase concentration. A simple distillation yields a solution with around 87% isopropyl alcohol. Azeotropic distillation with cyclohexane needed to obtain higher concentrations. In contrast to the previous method, this process requires the use of higher-purity propene and is more common in Europe.
- Hydrogenation of acetone: Acetone can be hydrogenated using a mixture of chromium and copper oxide to produce isopropyl alcohol. This process is particularly useful when coupled with the cumene process and excess acetone.
What is Isopropyl alcohol used for?
Uses for isopropyl alcohol (analytical use) include:
- As a preservative instead of formaldehyde
- Extracting DNA from solutions
- As a reactive element with other substances, in order to form various chemical products.
Isopropyl alcohol has a high toxicity level and as such should never be ingested or allowed to come into contact with skin. Please refer to our MSDS file for more details on the correct storage and handling of isopropyl alcohol, as well as steps to take in cases of poisoning.
Buying Isopropyl Alcohol for Analytical Use
We supply isopropyl alcohol for analytical use in 2.5L and 25L containers, with discounts available for bulk orders. This product is sold with a minimum of 99.5% purity levels. Further information can be found in the Sales Product Specification, available to download from our website.
If you need any help, simply contact our customer service team and a member of staff will be glad to help at any stage of your purchase to ensure our products meet your expectations.