The major outlet for cyclohexane is in the production of intermediates such as adipic acid, caprolactam and hexamethylenediamine used in the manufacture ofnylon. Adipic acid, used mainly to make nylon 6,6 fibre, accounts for about 60% of cyclohexane consumption. More than 70% of the world’s caprolactam, the monomer for nylon 6, is made from cyclohexane via the intermediate cyclohexanone.
Cyclohexane is also utilised as a solvent for lacquers and resins; paint and varnish remover; in the extraction of essential oils; in analytical chemistry for molecular weight determination; in the manufacture of cyclohexanol, cyclohexyl chloride, nitrocyclohexane, solid fuel for camp stoves; synthetic rubber solvent; in industrial recrystallisation of steroids and in fungicidal formulations. Other minor uses of cyclohexane are as a reaction diluent and a starting material for the production of cyclohexanol-cyclohexanone, ‘KA oil’.
Cyclohexane can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, nose and throat, but it is less toxic than benzene. Cyclohexane vapour readily forms explosive mixtures in air and flashback is a great hazard to firefighters. Cyclohexane occurs naturally in crude oil and may be released wherever petroleum products are refined, stored and used. Another large source of general release is in exhaust gases from motor vehicles.
To find out more Cyclohexane Methodology September 2013