Perchloroethylene (also known as tetrachloroethene) is a chlorocarbon with the molecular formula of C2Cl4. It is a colourless liquid with a sweet odour that is most commonly used as a dry cleaning product of fabrics. This product is a non-flammable liquid, having no measurable flashpoint or flammable limits in air. It is miscible with most organic solvents but only slightly miscible in water.
Perchloroethylene was first synthesized by Michael faraday in 1821. He discovered that at a high temperature chlorinolysis of hydrocarbons, he could produce perchloroethylene because the hydrocarbon thermally decomposes and causes an array of side products. Since his discovery, a few other methods have been created. On such method that is commonly used is when 1.2.-dichloroetane is heated above 400 ° C with chlorine and a catalyst. The by-products then go through a distillation process to produce perchloroethylene.
Storage and distribution
A chemical stockist would have a bulk petrochemical storage facility to regulate this product. Storage is normally in a cool, dry and well ventilated facility away from oxidising agents. Solvents such as perchloroethylene 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, Perchloroethylene 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.
Perchloroethylene is the predominant solvent used in the dry cleaning industry because it is non-flammable, stable but highly volatile. It is safe to use on most textiles, fibres and dyes without causing damage to the garment. It is highly effective at removing oils, greases and fats from textiles due its high boiling point and volatile nature. A wide array of industries use perchloroethylene because it is excellent at degreasing metal parts during the production of products. It can also be used in extracting fats, dissolving rubber, paint removal, water repellent, brake cleaning and a carrier solvent. It was also historically used as a chemical intermediate in the manufacture of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) 134a.