Arcosolv Propylene Glycol Ethers & Acetates

Arcosolv Propylene Glycol Ethers (PGEs) are high-performance industrial solvents for paints and coatings, cleaners, inks, and a variety of other applications. These Arcosolv "P-series" glycol ethers have become the solvents of choice for reformulations and new product development. Arcosolv PGEs are based on reacting propylene oxide with varying chain alcohols.

For more detailed information regarding the Arcosolv P-series product family, please select one of the links to the left.

Benefits and Applications

These solvents offer low toxicity, coupling advantages, increased electrolyte solubility, and excellent wetting ability compared to commonly used ethylene (E-series) glycol ethers.

Toxicology / Regulatory

Based on laboratory animal studies, PGEs can be used for applications that may not be appropriate for other glycol ethers. Propylene glycol ethers do not cause the type of toxicological effects that are associated with exposure to certain ethylene glycol ethers. Even when laboratory animals were exposed to concentrations greater than those known to cause E-series glycol ether-related injury, propylene glycol ethers did not produce effects.*

Environmental Regulations

In contrast to certain other solvents, propylene glycol ethers are NOT listed under the following regulatory sections:

(US) Clean Air Act
Section 111, Potential Human Health Hazards
Section 112, Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs)

(US) Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, & Liability Act "Superfund"
Section 101 (14), Hazardous Substances
Section 103, Reportable Quantities
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
Section 3001, Hazardous Waste Listing

(US) Superfund Amendments & Reauthorization Act (SARA) Title III
Section 302, Extremely Hazardous Substances
Section 313, Toxic Chemical Reporting

(EUR) Annex I of the European Commission of Dangerous Substances Directive


The PGEs are biodegradable. The biodegradation of glycol ethers or any chemical may be determined by various procedures including measuring the consumption of dissolved oxygen by microorganisms using the organic matter (including the chemical of concern) as fuel. Such a test is called a Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) test.

Some regard a chemical that allows the inoculum to consume 60% of the oxygen present within a 28-day period as "readily biodegradable." This is the case for the majority of propylene glycol ethers sold by Lyondell. Even in cases where "readily biodegradable" is not demonstrated, further testing with higher inoculum may show that a compound has the ability to biodegrade and is considered "inherently biodegradable".

In fact, when this study was carried out to 35 days, dissolved oxygen consumed by the inoculum was 60% for PTB. Thus, even these branch-chained P-series glycol ethers have the potential to biodegrade, although at a slightly slower rate.

In conclusion, most of the PGEs are considered "readily biodegradable". The highly branched, tertiary-butyl ethers are "inherently biodegradable," requiring slightly longer to degrade.

* For more information on the PGEs, please contact us for our "Environmental Aspects Report."

Storage and Handling

Arcosolv propylene glycol ethers require no special handling procedures compared to other common industrial solvents. Different propylene glycol ethers have different characteristics, including those for vapor pressure and flammability. Potential health hazards which should be considered may also vary. Consult the material safety data sheet (MSDS) for the particular hazards which apply to the specific propylene glycol ether.

The general practice at LyondellBasell is to store these products in carbon steel containers. If trace iron contamination or slight discoloration are objectionable, consider using either phenolic-lined drums or stainless steel tanks.

Polymers such as Teflon, polyethylene and polypropylene should be considered for gasketing and seals. However, in the selection of such materials the supplier of the gasket or seal should be consulted to verify compatibility.

Avoid contact with:

  • Air when storing for extended periods of time, as glycol ethers will absorb moisture from the atmosphere and slowly oxidize.
  • Copper and copper alloys.
  • Aluminum, aluminum alloys and galvanized steel unless testing is done to determine compatibility under the specific circumstance of contact.
  • Buna N, butylene and neoprene because swelling has been observed with some glycol ethers.

LyondellBasell is discontinuing the use of Arcosolv and Arconate trademarks effective September 1, 2014. The chemical and physical properties of the products, product quality, manufacturing process and the manufacturing sites under these trademarks will not change as a result of this project.  Please contact your LyondellBasell Account Manager to answer any questions you may have. 

Teflon is a trademark owned by DuPont. Trademark Teflon is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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