Solvents

Issues surrounding solvent use

As with all chemicals, solvents and their use are subject to legislation (for more information see Environmental Legislation in the Process Design topic).  Other factors to consider when using solvents include:

  • Process safety
  • Worker safety and health
  • Regulatory guidelines
  • Corporate responsibility – drive for sustainable manufacture
  • Disposal
  • Environmental impact of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including:
    • Harmful effects on human health e.g. 1,2-dichloroethane and DMF
    • Harmful effects on natural ecosystems e.g. hexanes
    • Damage to materials e.g. acids
    • Stratospheric ozone depletion e.g. carbon tetrachloride
    • Tropospheric photochemical oxidant formation e.g. xylene, toluene
    • Global climate change
    • Odour e.g. amines (pyridine, triethylamine), dimethyl sulfide 

 In this module we will use case studies to explore some of these issues in more detail.