Propylene carbonate

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Propylene carbonate[1][2]
Propylene Carbonate V.1.svg Propylene-carbonate-3D-vdW.png
Sample of propylene carbonate.jpg
CAS number 108-32-7 YesY
PubChem 7924
ChemSpider 7636 N
UNII 8D08K3S51E YesY
Jmol-3D images Image 1
Molecular formula C4H6O3
Molar mass 102.09 g mol−1
Appearance Colorless liquid
Density 1.205 g/cm3
Melting point −48.8 °C (−55.8 °F; 224.3 K)
Boiling point 242 °C (468 °F; 515 K)
Solubility in water Very soluble
Refractive index (nD) 1.4189
MSDS MSDS by Mallinckrodt Baker
R-phrases R36
S-phrases S26 S36
Main hazards Xi
NFPA 704
Flammability code 1: Must be pre-heated before ignition can occur. Flash point over 93 °C (200 °F). E.g., canola oil Health code 1: Exposure would cause irritation but only minor residual injury. E.g., turpentine Reactivity code 1: Normally stable, but can become unstable at elevated temperatures and pressures. E.g., calcium Special hazards (white): no codeNFPA 704 four-colored diamond
Flash point 132 °C (270 °F; 405 K)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)
 N (verify) (what is: YesY/N?)
Infobox references

Propylene carbonate (often abbreviated PC) is an organic compound with the formula C4H6O3. It is a carbonate ester derived from propylene glycol.[3] This colorless and odorless liquid is useful as a polar, aprotic solvent. Propylene carbonate is chiral but is used exclusively as the racemic mixture.[4]


Propylene carbonate is a produced from propylene oxide and carbon dioxide with a suitable catalyst, often a zinc halide.

C3H6O + CO2 → C4H6O3

The propylene carbonate product may be converted to other desirable carbonate esters by transesterification as well (see Carbonate ester#Carbonate transesterification).[5]


Propylene carbonate is used in a variety of syntheses and applications as a polar, aprotic solvent. It has a high molecular dipole moment (4.9 D), considerably higher that those of acetone (2.91 D) and ethyl acetate (1.78 D).[1] It is possible, for example, to obtain potassium, sodium, and other alkali metals by electrolysis of their chlorides and other salts dissolved in propylene carbonate.[6]

Due to its high dielectric constant of 64, it is frequently used as a high-permittivity component of electrolytes in lithium batteries, usually together with a low-viscosity solvent (e.g. dimethoxyethane). Its high polarity allows it to create an effective solvation shell around lithium ions, thereby creating a conductive electrolyte. However, it is not used in lithium-ion batteries due to its destructive effect on graphite.[7]

Propylene carbonate can also be found in some adhesives, paint strippers, and in cosmetics.[8] It is also used as plasticizer.

In electrospray ionization mass spectrometry, propylene carbonate is doped into low surface tension solutions to increase analyte charging.[9]


Clinical studies indicate that propylene carbonate does not cause skin irritation or sensitization when used in cosmetic preparations, whereas moderate skin irritation is observed when used undiluted. No significant toxic effects were observed in rats fed propylene carbonate, exposed to the vapor, or exposed to the undiluted liquid.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Haynes, William M., ed. (2011). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (92nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. ISBN 1439855110. 
  2. ^ Propylene carbonate at Sigma-Aldrich
  3. ^ WebBook page for propylene carbonate
  4. ^ Dieter Stoye (2005), "Solvents", Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, Weinheim: Wiley-VCH, doi:10.1002/14356007.a24_437 
  5. ^ Hans-Josef Buysch (2005), "Carbonic Esters", Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, Weinheim: Wiley-VCH, doi:10.1002/14356007.a05_197 
  6. ^ J. Jorné; C. W. Tobias (1975). "Electrodeposition of the alkali metals from propylene carbonate". J. Appl. Electrochem. 5 (4): 279–290. doi:10.1007/BF00608791. 
  7. ^ Doron Aurbach (1999). Nonaqueous Electrochemistry. CRC Press. ISBN 978-0824773342. 
  8. ^ Record in the Household Products Database of NLM
  9. ^ Teo CA, Donald WA (May 2014). "Solution additives for supercharging proteins beyond the theoretical maximum proton-transfer limit in electrospray ionization mass spectrometry". Anal. Chem. 86 (9): 4455–62. doi:10.1021/ac500304r. PMID 24712886. 
  10. ^ "Environmental Profile for Propylene Carbonate". U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1998.