Solvent Market: A Brief Overview, Classification and Applications

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Transparency Market Research published a new report "Global Solvents Market: Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2012 - 2018" to its report store.

Transparency Market Research

Transparency Market Research

Global Solvents Market: Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2012 - 2018

Solvents are liquids with the ability to dissolve, extract or suspend other substances. Due to such ways of reacting with other substances, solvents make the processing application, cleaning and separation of many materials possible. Solvents have radically changed the way the modern world operates and have proved invaluable for a diverse range of industries ranging from microelectronics to pharmaceuticals and printing to domestic cleaning.

In fact, many products we commonly use and rely-on, from many vaccines to the commonly used industrial paints, would not perform to their required standards without solvents. This is why millions of industries around the globe rely on a variety of solvents every day to ease many processes and provide excellence in performance and solutions to many manufacturing needs.

  • How do solvents work?

Simply stated, solvents are liquids that are used for dissolving other materials. Take for example, the most commonly occurring solvent – water. Water is a solvent that can dissolve many things, but is ineffective on oils, greases and other fatty/greasy substances. Solvents work on the “like for like” dissolving principle, for example, industrial solvents are chemically much similar to greases as compared with water and so, one such solvent is needed to dissolve greases more efficiently.

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  • Classification:

Basically, solvents are categorized in two broad categories, viz: organic and inorganic. Organic solvents, or in general any organic substance have carbon atoms in their molecular structure. As carbon atoms are one of the basic building blocks of life, substances containing them are called organic – things derived from once-living matters. Ethanol is an example of an organic substance.

In contrast to this, inorganic solvents are those which do not contain carbon atoms in their molecular structure. Water is an example of an inorganic solvent.
Organic solvents can be further divided in three broad categories based on their chemical structure:

  • Oxygenated solvents: These solvents contain oxygen atoms in their molecules. Substances such as alcohols, esters, glycols and ketones fall in this category. Such solvents are used for dissolving substances that need a solvent with high solvency power. These solvents are also used for many water based formulations such as water based paints and detergents. The common application areas for oxygenated solvents are paints, inks, cosmetics, adhesives, fragrances, pharmaceuticals, food industry, etc.
  • Hydrocarbon solvents: Molecules of these solvents contain only hydrogen and carbon atoms. These are further categorized as aliphatic, aromatic and paraffinic hydrocarbon solvents. Such solvents are typically used where a solvent with considerably low degree of solvency is required.
  • Halogenated solvents: These solvents contain a halogen atom – chlorine, fluorine, bromine or iodine – in their molecular structures. Accordingly, halogenated solvents are further classified as chlorinated, fluorinated, brominated and iodinated solvents.

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  • How are solvents made?

Except for alcohol-based solvents, all other organic solvents are made from oils. However, very less amount of oil is used for the production of a solvent; only about 1 to 2% of the total global oils produced are used for the production of solvents. Many solvents are also capable of recycling and so, they can also be used again.

  • Applications of solvents:

As mentioned earlier, solvents are extensively used over a variety of application areas. For these areas, the use of solvents is simply essential. Everyday, we benefit from the diverse range of solvents currently known to the mankind and their widespread applications.

The most common applications of solvents are in industries such as Agriculture, automobiles, adhesives, dry cleaning, food processing, household cleaning, industrial cleaning, ink manufacturing, paints and coatings, personal care, pharmaceuticals and rubber and polymers.

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