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Alkenes: Introduction

Alkenes: Industrial Importance

Alkenes find many diverse applications in industry. They are used as starting materials in the syntheses of alcohols, plastics, laquers, detergents, and fuels. The most important alkenes for the chemical industry are ethene, propene and 1,3-butadiene.

Ethene is the most important organic feedstock in the chemical industry. Worldwide production in 1977 amounted to about 88 million metric tons, second in tonnage after sulfuric acid. Ethene is produced from natural gas and crude oil by cracking. It is used as feedstock for many chemical products such as polyethylene, vinyl chloride, styrene, ethanol, acetaldehyde, and many more.

Propene, the second most important feedstock for organic products with an estimated worldwide production in 2000 of about 50 million metric tons, is mainly used for the production of polypropylene and various oxidation products such as butanol, acrylic acid, acrolein, acrylic acid ester, glycerol, allyl chloride, and epichlorohydrin.

Butadiene with a worldwide production in 1953 of about 8.5 million metric tons is mainly used for the production of various synthetic rubbers. The most important among these are SBR = styrene-butadiene rubber and BR = butadiene rubber.

Fig.1

Additionally, hit-resistant polymers, laquers and intermediates in the synthesis of nylon are prepared from butadiene.

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