Plasticizers are organic compounds which are used to modify the properties of polymers. Plasticizers do not chemically react with high-molecular compounds, but, when incorporated into the polymer matrix, give it elasticity, reduce processing temperature, melt viscosity, increase heat and frost resistance, dielectric properties of products, resistance to aqueous and organic media. The main requirements for plasticizers are:
- low extractability by water, oils and detergents;
- good compatibility with the polymer;
- low volatility, chemical resistance and effectiveness of the plasticizing action;
- low cost.
The main consumer of plasticizers (more than 90%) is the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) products.
Organic compounds of various classes can be used as plasticizers, but most of them (~ 90% of the market) are ester plasticizers, of which more than 80% are esters of o-phthalic acid (phthalates). The main industrial plasticizers are:
- di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (trade name “dioctyl phthalate”, (DOP));
- diisononyl phthalate (DINP);
- diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP).
The first place on release and consumption in the world is occupied by DOP, which is possesses optimal plasticizing properties at low cost and is the main standard by which other plasticizers are compared. However, recently, due to the revealed toxicity of DOP, there has been a tendency to replace it with other ester plasticizers – di (2-ethylhexyl) terephthalate (the trade name is “dioctyl terephthalate”, DOTP), DINP, DIDP, etc. The last two are not produced in Russia due to the lack of industrial production of nonyl and decyl alcohols, therefore, dioctyl terephthalate can become the main alternative to DOP.