The primary chemical intermediates and derivatives of phenol include phenolic resin, bisphenol-A (BPA), caprolactamadipic acid and plasticiser. With the growing use of polycarbonate in such sectors as optical media, electrical and electronics and construction, BPA has emerged as the main outlet for much of the phenol production. Globally, BPA accounts for around 35% of phenol output, followed by 30% in phenolic resin and 10% in caprolactam. However, in the US, around 40% of phenol was used in BPA production, while in Western Europe up to 46% went into BPA.

Another major downstream application is phenolic resin, which can be used as a wood-binding adhesive in the construction sector;  as a bonding agent for foundry and sand moulds in the industrial sector; and for manufacturing insulation and decorative adhesives in the household goods industry.

Strong growth is also projected for the use of phenol in polyphenylene oxide engineering plastics, via ortho-xylenol, although from a relatively small base. Phenol is also used as a slimicide; a disinfectant; and an anaesthetic in medicinal preparations, including ointments, ear and nose drops, cold sore lotions, throat lozenges, and antiseptic lotions.

The inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact with phenol may cause severe injury or death. It is combustible and produces irritating, corrosive and/or toxic gases when burning.

ICIS pricing quotes phenol in EuropeAsia-PacificChina and the US Gulf.

To find out more Phenol Methodology September 2013

Consultation on this document closed on 13 February 2014