Uses of phenol : The Phenolic Resins and their Applications

Phenol is an alcohol in which a hydroxyl group is directly attached to a benzene ring. Due to the uses of phenol, it is one of the most important classes of organic compounds. It is also known as carbolic acid and the first instance of its isolation has been reported in the early years of nineteenth century. Phenol finds application in many industries and has been of commercially synthesised on large scales.

Uses of Phenol

Following are some of the uses of phenol

  1. Approximately two-third 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 synthesis 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. 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.
  3. Phenol is also used in the study and extraction of bio-molecules. Molecular biology finds application of phenol in the extraction of nucleic acids from tissue samples for further investigations.
  4. Phenol is also used in cosmetic industry in the manufacturing of sunscreens, skin lightening creams and hair coloring solutions.

Phenol being inexpensive finds application in a huge number of industries that range from plastic and resin industry to pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry. 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.


Practise This Question

In the following reaction sequence, Y is :
PhOCOCH3AlCl3−−Δ(X)l2−−−NaOH(Y)