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Product name ethylene
Synonyms ethene
GOST 25070-87
CAS 74-85-1

Ethylene is a colorless flammable gas with a pleasant sweet faint odor. Ethylene is boundedly soluble in water (25.6ml in 100 ml of water at 0°C), ethanol (359 ml at the same conditions). It is readily soluble in diethyl ether and hydrocarbons. Ethylene is a simplest alkene (olefin), carbon atoms in it are connected by double bond. Like most alkenes, ethylene reacts with chlorine to give 1,2-addition product - 1,2-dichloroethane. Hydratation of ethylene results in ethyl alcohol, reaction with hydrogen chloride yields to ethyl chloride. Ethylene is oxidized by oxygen of air in the presence of catalyst to form ethylene oxide. Liquid phase catalytic oxidation results in acetaldehyde. Reaction conducted at the same conditions in the presence of acetic acid results in vinyl acetate. Ethylene is an alkylating agent. Benzene being treated with ethylene in the presence AlCl3 at 400-450°C forms ethylbenzene. Ethylene polymerizes in the presence of catalysts as itself to produce polyethylene or as a comonomer to form a number of copolymers.

Ethylene acts physiologically as a hormone in plants. It stimulates the ripening of fruit, the opening of flowers, and the abscission (or shedding) of leaves. Ethylene was once used as a local anesthetic applicable via inhalation, but it has long since been replaced.


Ethylene is manufactured commercially by steam cracking of light liquid hydrocarbons at 750-950°C. Ethylene is one of the principal components in resulting reaction mixture which is separated by repeated compression and distillation. The by-products of this process are: propylene, benzene and a number of hydrocarbons.


Ethylene is exceedingly important in chemical industry and it is the starting point in making of different chemical products. It is applied:

  • as a monomer to prepare polyethylene (LDPE and HDPE) and as comonomer in manufacturing of copolymers with propylene, styrene, vinyl acetate and others;
  • as a raw material in production of ethylene oxide;
  • as an alkylating agent to manufacture ethylbenzene, diethylbenzene, triethylbenzene and other ethylarenes;
  • as a feedstock in preparation of acetaldehyde and synthetic ethyl alcohol;
  • to produce ethyl acetate, styrene, vinyl acetate, vinyl chloride;
  • in preparation of 1,2-dichloroethane, ethyl chloride;
  • as a plant hormone, for the ripening of fruit, for opening of flowers and as defoliant;

  • Manufacturer(s) JSC "Nizhnekamskneftekhim" Inc.
    JSC Salavatnefteorgsintez
    JSC Sibur-Neftehim
    Chemical structure of ethylene

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