Normal butanol (also known as n-butanol) is a primary alcohol with a molecular formula of C4H10O. N-butanol is a colourless liquid of medium volatility and a characteristic banana-like odour. It only has limited miscibility in water, however is easily soluble in regular solvents such as ethers, alcohol, glycols and hydrocarbons. This solvent is very flammable, with a flashpoint of around 35° C.
N-butanol can occur naturally as product of the fermentation of sugars and other carbohydrates. However, the major use (and therefore production) is in the industrial arena. It is a bulk petrochemical manufactured from the feedstock of propylene in an ‘oxo process’ in the presence of a homogeneous catalyst. This creates butyraldehde which is subsequently hydrogenated to produce n-butanol.
Storage and Distribution
A chemical wholesaler would have a bulk petrochemical storage facility to maintain the product. Storage is normally in a cool, dry and well ventilated facility away from oxidising agents. N-butanol should be kept out of direct sunlight, heat and open flames. Solvents such as n-butanol should be stored in drummed containers such as isotanks made of stainless steel, aluminium or carbon steel.
A bulk solvent exporter would normally distribute this solvent in bulk vessels or tank trucks. For transportation purposes, n-butanol is classed as a flammable liquid with a fire hazard rating of 2. A full bulk chemical distributor would export the solvent throughout regions such as the UK, Europe, Africa and America. This product is a packing group 3.
n-butanol can be used a chemical intermediate to create other chemicals (e.g. Esters, n-butyl acetate and amino resins); alternatively it can be used as a solvent in the creation of consumer products. n-butanol is used as a solvent for paints, coatings, varnishes, fats, oils, waxes, rubber and plasticizers. Other uses include coating fabric in the textiles industry, as a cleaning or polishing agent, gasoline, brake fluid and in consumer products such as make-up, nail products, hygiene products and shaving products in the cosmetic industry. The main user end market of this product is the chemical, petrochemical, textiles, cleaning and cosmetics industries.