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What is phenol?

Phenol is derived from the basic raw materials of benzene and propylene. These materials are first used to produce cumene, which is then oxidised to become cumene hydroperoxide, before being split into phenol and its co-product, acetone. Phenol is typically a solid at room temperature as it solidifies at 41°C (106 °F).

How is phenol used?

Phenol plays an unseen, but major role, in our everyday lives. Plywood, window glazing, DVDs and CDs, computers, sports equipment, automotive parts and accessories, and flat panel televisions are some of the many items that rely on this important raw material.

Phenol is a major component of the phenolic adhesives used in wood products such as plywood and oriented strand board. It is also used to produce phenolic resins, which are used in the moulding of heat-resistant components for household appliances, counter-top and flooring laminates, and foundry castings. In addition, it is a valuable intermediate in the manufacture of detergents, agricultural chemicals, medicines, plasticisers, and dyes.

The largest single market for phenol is in the production of Bisphenol A (BPA), which is manufactured from phenol and acetone. BPA is, in turn, used to manufacture polycarbonate (the largest and fastest growing use for BPA) and epoxy resins. Both polycarbonate and epoxy resins are used in many different industries and in countless items which we encounter every day like CDs, flat panel televisions, circuit boards and fibre glass boats.

When reacted with bromine, BPA forms the fire retardant tetrabromobisphenol A. BPA is also used to manufacture engineering thermoplastics such as polysulfones and polyarylates.

What are our key strengths in the phenol sector?

  • Consistent quality product.
  • Integrated manufacturing site and logistics system including multiple modes of transport such as deep sea vessel, barge, rail car and truck.
  • Long term commitment.
  • Low cost production.
  • Well-developed product stewardship support that includes customer advice on the safe handling of phenol and participation in industry-sponsored activities.

Phenol product datasheet and description
Product/Grade Description Download
Phenol
Phenol is a white crystalline (at room temperature), odorous and toxic chemical compound, which is used widely as a raw material in the manufacture of other chemical products.
Datasheet

Shell chemicals resources