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Montan wax, also known as lignite wax or OP wax, is a hard wax obtained by solvent extraction of certain types of lignite or brown coal. Commercially viable deposits exist in only a few locations, including Amsdorf, Germany, and in the Ione Basin near Ione, California. High-graded lignite wax are also found in Yunnan and Jilin, China.
Its color ranges from dark brown to light yellow when crude, or white when refined. Its composition is non-glyceride long-chain (C24–C30) carboxylic acid esters (62–68 weight %), free long-chain organic acids (22–26%), long-chain alcohols, ketones, and hydrocarbons (7–15%), and resins; it is in effect a fossilized plant wax. Its melting range is 82–95 °C.
It is used for making car and shoe polishes, paints, and phonograph records, and as lubricant for molding paper and plastics. About a third of total world production is used in car polish. Formerly, its main use was making carbon paper. Unrefined montan wax contains asphalt and resins, which can be removed by refining. Montan wax in polishes improves scuff resistance, increases water repellence, and imparts high gloss.
- Energy Information Administration
- Montan-Bearing Wax From The Ione Formation, California A page that contains: (1) An image of a chunk of high grade montan wax-bearing lignite from the middle Eocene Ione Formation, Ione Basin, California; and (2) an image of California's only currently operating commercial coal plant, where the lignites are processed for their montan wax content.
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