Bisphenol A is produced by the condensation of phenol and acetone in the presence of an acid catalyst (hydrogen chloride) and usually a promoter such as methyl mercaptan. Cation exchange resins can replace the acid catalyst in newer plants.
Two grades of BPA are produced; one suitable for epoxy resin manufacture and a higher purity grade for polycarbonate production.
The main outlet for BPA is in the manufacture of polycarbonate which accounted for 65% of global demand in 2001. Polycarbonate is used in a variety of applications such as the fast growing optical media industry, electrical and electronic, construction, automotive and packaging applications.
The second largest outlet at around 30% of BPA consumption is epoxy resins. Other uses include flame retardants, unsaturated polyester resins and polyacrylate, polyetherimide and polysulphone resins.
BPA dust, vapour and solutions cause irritation to the skin, lungs and eyes. It may cause sensitisation and may affect fertility. It is a slight fire hazard but the dust can also cause explosive mixtures with air. Carbon dioxide, dry chemical or foam can be used to blanket fires. Fire fighters must wear protective clothing and self-contained breathing apparatus as toxic gases are given off during burning.
BPA is not considered a major threat as a pollutant while current uses pose minimal risk to the environment.
ICIS pricing quotes bisphenol A in Europe, Asia-Pacific and China
To find out more Bisphenol Methodology March 2013