Trichloroethylene, also known as TCE, is a widely used industrial halocarbon solvent. However, the use of this solvent is decreasing for two main reasons: price and toxicity.
Awareness about the dangerous effects of exposure to this chemical is on the rise as more and more studies are conducted, making it a less desirable option for industrial application. But is this the only reason for trichloroethylene price spikes?
Read on to find out.
What Is Trichloroethylene?
Before we take a closer look at what is causing trichloroethylene price increases, let’s first discuss what TCE is and why it’s still in demand despite its known toxicity and associated health risks.
Trichloroethylene is a clear and non-flammable liquid that is used in a variety of industrial applications. Here are a few of the most common uses for this solvent:
- Degreaser – TCE is primarily used as a degreaser for metal equipment. It is especially popular as a vapor degreasing solvent, as its non-flammability and higher boiling point enables it to effectively dissolve debris and grease.
- Additive – It is also used as an additive to various adhesives, spot removers, and paint removers.
- Manufacturing – Additionally, the solvent is heavily utilized in hydrofluorocarbon refrigerant manufacturing.
Why Is There an Increase in Price for TCE?
Unfortunately, for the many companies that rely on TCE for their needs, the chemical has recently gone through a sudden spike in price. However, toxicity isn’t the sole reason for the sudden trichloroethylene price increase, but there are several other reasons as well:
- Increase in Demand for Vapor Degreasing Solvents – Due to many factors, there has been a recent higher demand for cleaning solvents, particularly TCE because of its popularity as an effective solvent for vapor degreasing.
- Increase in Demand for Hydrofluorocarbon Refrigerants – In addition, demand for HFC’s has also steadily increased, due to changes in regulations and rapid economic growth in certain countries.
- Scarce Availability – There has been a sharp decrease in the availability of TCE, presumably mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in labor shortages and many chemical manufacturing facilities having to halt construction. Companies could not quickly meet the sudden increase in demand after the economy went back to normal, resulting in higher prices.
- Increase in Regulations – TCE has become increasingly regulated across the U.S. and even banned in some European countries due to its toxicity levels and worker safety hazards. The huge increase in TCE regulation has unintentionally caused a higher spike in prices because businesses have to comply with these regulations.
Fortunately, companies now have dozens of safer options that can effectively replace TCE, ensure worker safety, and are much more cost-effective due to fewer regulations.
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