Butanol is an alcohol with the formula CH3CH2CH2CH2OH and can be produced through petrochemical processes. It can also be produced through fermentation of sugars derived from corn and agricultural crops. N-butanol is sold primarily as a chemical. N-butanol is a superior global chemical as compared to isobutanol.
N-butanol can occur naturally as product of the fermentation of sugars and other carbohydrates. However, the major use of N-butanol is in the industrial arena which requires large scale production. This is achieved by allowing feedstock of propylene undergo ‘oxo process’ in the presence of a homogeneous catalyst. This produces butyraldehde in bulk in the petrochemical industry. The butyraldehyde obtained is subsequently hydrogenated to produce n-butanol.
Paint and Coating Industry
About half of the production of pure n-Butanol and its derivatives (primarily esters) is used as solvents in the coatings industry. The advantage here is that n-Butanol prevents blushing of some coatings when they dry under humid conditions. Thus, it is a common diluent in cellulose nitrate lacquers and improves their gloss, flow and resistance to blushing. For this purpose, 5 –10 % addition rates are generally sufficient. n-Butanol is a suitable solvent for lacquers that are acid-curable and baking finishes derived from urea, melamine or phenolic resins. Lastly, small amounts of n-Butanol can prevent cobwebbing in lacquers formulated from spirit-soluble resins.
N-butanol is commonly used as a chemical intermediate to form other chemicals like n-butyl acrylate, n-butyl methacrylate, n-butylglycol ethers and n-butyl acetate. These chemicals are often used in construction industries as adhesive, leather industries for leather finishing, plastic industries for manufacturing of plastic and cleaning industries for cleaning fluids.