Low Aromatic Solvents
َATC PetrOil Company as a major producer, supplier and exporter of Low Aromatic Solvents products in the Middle East, is located in Iran.
The present day solvent market is on the order of 20 million metric tonnes (MMT) and worth tens of billions of US dollars annually to the global economy. European solvent production provides about one quarter of the worldwide market, with annual bio-based solvent use in the European Union projected to grow to over one MMT by 2020. Important sectors include paints and pharmaceuticals (Figure 3). The solvent is often the major component of a formulation, a reaction, or an extraction. As such a significant alleviation of non-renewable chemical dependence can be achieved with the implementation of bio-based solvents. The choice of solvent has a strong influence on the rate of reactions and substrate solubility, and the role of a solvent in a paint or coating formulation is different to that of a solvent used to facilitate the synthesis of an active pharmaceutical ingredient for example. Because of this, many different solvents are used across a variety of applications, and a large diversity of bio-based solvents is needed to relieve the present dependence on unsustainable fossil derived solvents.
At present solvent use is dictated by two influencing factors: regulation (compulsory) and organizational preference (not necessarily enforced). Regulations control the use of certain solvents and permissible residues in final products. This is true in the plant extraction industry for foodstuffs, and in the pharmaceutical sector for example. Legislation has begun to rule out certain solvents from use completely because of environmental health and safety concerns. Benzene and carbon tetrachloride are two well-known examples of strongly regulated chemicals that were once popular solvents. The present day tightening of chemical controls in Europe falls within the recently implemented Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) legislation, under which EU member states propose restrictions for chemicals with the potential to do harm. At the time of writing a number of solvents are on the list of substances of very high concern (SVHC), and restrictions on their use and import with limited authorisation will be considered. The solvents recognized as SVHC include amides such as N-methylpyrrolidinone (NMP) and N, N-dimethyl formamide (DMF), as well as some chlorinated solvents and certain ethers of ethylene glycol.
Solvents already subject to restrictions include benzene in products for public use, cyclohexane in neoprene-based contact adhesives, dichloromethane in paint strippers, the glycols ethers ethylene glycol monomethyl ether and diethylene glycol monobutyl ether (applicable to specific paint products), toluene (not to be used in spray paints), and 1,4-dichlorobenzene in air fresheners and similar products. Chloroform, trichlorobenzene and several other chlorinated solvents are subject to wider ranging restrictions that forbid them from all products and substances intended for public use in concentrations greater than 0.1%.
After regulations have defined the set of solvents that may be used from a legal perspective, individual organizations can establish their own preference for certain solvents based on green chemistry principles. Consumer pressure may also indirectly influence solvent choice, depending on the sector and how much “greenness” is valued. One should also note that there can also be institutional resistance to change. This is not often due simply to stubbornness; because some processes and products must be registered, if the solvent was changed it would affect the purity profile of the product.