Uses of Phenol and their Applications

What is Phenol?

Phenol is alcohol in which a hydroxyl group is directly attached to a benzene ring.

Phenol is one of the most important classes of organic compounds due to its uses. It is also known as carbolic acid and the first instance of its isolation has been reported in the early years of the nineteenth century.

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Structure of PhenolUses of Phenol

Phenol finds application in many industries and has been commercially synthesised on large scales.

Uses of Phenol

  1. Approximately two-thirds of the total phenol produced worldwide is used to prepare reagents used in plastic manufacturing industries. We cannot imagine our lives without plastic. Most of the things around us are either made from plastics or have plastic components in them. The condensation reaction of phenol with acetone produces bisphenol A which is extensively used in polymer industries to synthesise various epoxide resins and polycarbonates.
  2. The polymerization reaction of phenol with formaldehyde is used to commercially prepare phenolic resins. The resulting resin is known as phenol-formaldehyde resin; commercially it is marketed by the name of bakelite.
  3. Bakelite is extensively used in electrical switches and automobiles due to its property of withstanding extreme conditions of heat and resistance to electricity and other chemicals. The intermediate produced during the polymerization reaction is called novolac, this is a resin and is used as a binding agent or adhesive in many industries. Novolac is also used for protective coating purposes.
  4. Phenol is also used in the study and extraction of biomolecules. Molecular biology finds the application of phenol in the extraction of nucleic acids from tissue samples for further investigations.
  5. Phenol is also used in the cosmetic industry in the manufacturing of sunscreens, skin lightening creams and hair colouring solutions.

Phenol being inexpensive finds application in a huge number of industries that range from the plastic and resin industry to the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry. The uses of phenol make it one of the most versatile organic compounds. Get to know about phenol and uses of phenol with our expert faculty at BYJU’S.

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