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Polyols are polyhydric alcohols (polyalcohols): properties, production and applications
Polyols are polyhydric alcohols (polyalcohols): properties, production and applications

Polyols are widely used in modern industry. These are substances of organic origin with a number of useful properties. Polyols are used in the production of polymers, antifreezes, explosives, cosmetics and food products.

Definition and general properties of polyalcohols

Polyalcohols, or polyols, are organic compounds whose molecules contain more than one hydroxyl group. Other names for polyalcohols are polyol and polyhydric alcohol. The most significant agents are polyols - dihydric ethylene glycol and trihydric glycerol.

polyhydric alcohols

The main way to obtain alcohols is the synthesis of natural raw materials. In nature, polyols can be found in the composition of wax, sperm whale oil and other substances similar in composition. These are esters of organic acids, from which polyhydric alcohols are easily isolated.

Physical and chemical properties of higher alcohols

Alcohols containing two or more hydroxyl groups have all the properties of chemical compounds with one hydroxyl group.An exceptional property is the creation of blue complexes when copper hydroxide and polyol are combined - this is a qualitative reaction to polyhydric alcohols.

Higher alcohols oxidize faster than low-molecular compounds. Light and contact with air accelerate the oxidation process.

Alcohols with up to 11 carbon atoms are liquids containing more carbon atoms - solids that dissolve in ether and ethanol.

Industrial applications

Polyalcohols are used in almost all industrial areas. Surprisingly, the use of the same substances in industries very distant from each other. So, glycerin is used in cosmetology and in the manufacture of explosives. Without polyols, the production of plastics, paints and varnishes, polyurethanes, thermosetting polymer resins, antifreezes is impossible.

In the production of plastics, polyalcohols can increase elasticity, resistance to deformation, and increase the durability of products.

Consumers are especially interested in information about the use of polyhydric alcohols in the food industry. These substances have unique properties that allow them to be added to food to achieve a sweet taste. Polyols are great sweeteners with many benefits:

  • non-toxic;
  • completely absorbed by the human body;
  • low-calorie;
  • does not cause caries;
  • can be consumed by diabetics.

The use of alcohol in food does not require absorptionrelease of insulin, therefore, the possibility of their use in the manufacture of diabetic products is especially important. So, with the use of polyalcohols, chewing gum, chocolate, carbonated drinks, diabetic sweets are produced.

Cola without sugar

Some sweeteners have useful properties that are not related to the ability to add sweetness to foods. So, glucite (the second name of sorbitol) is used in pharmacology as a flavoring agent and thickener for liquid dosage forms. Xylitol is included in the intravenous nutrition solution.

Also, sorbitol is used as a hygroscopic substance in the manufacture of semi-finished meat products to increase the shelf life of the product. The same property of retaining moisture allows the use of sorbitol in cosmetology in the production of creams, lotions and toothpaste.

Polyol Lactitol

Sugar substitutes. Polyols in the food industry

The most famous sweeteners are sorbitol and xylitol. These are substances obtained from vegetable raw materials, which makes them especially valuable in the eyes of the consumer. Sorbitol and xylitol on packages are designated as food additives E420 and E967. In their pure form, they are crystalline substances with a sweet taste.

Sorbitol and xylitol are synthesized from cornstarch, recycled cotton waste, some hardwood wood.

Sweeteners are more than 50% less sweet than regular sugar. But other advantages of polyols outweigh the importance of the intensity of flavoring.sensations:

  • does not harm the shell of the teeth - anti-caries effect;
  • used in diet food - low calorie content;
  • absorbed by the body without the participation of insulin - diabetic products;
  • have mild laxative effect - therapeutic use.
chewing gum pads

In addition to sweetness, a cooling effect is added to the taste sensation, which makes the use of sorbitol and xylitol unsuitable for adding to some products. However, these same effects are valuable for chewing gum production.

Chocolate with polyols

The chill and aftertaste inherent in sorbitol and xylitol can distort the taste of cocoa products. That is why, most often, diabetic chocolate has such a specific taste and residual cooling sensation on the tongue.

chocolate slices

This fact does not mean that polyols in chocolate should definitely be avoided. Using beets as a raw material for the production of polyols, a product such as isom alt is synthesized. This substance is indistinguishable from ordinary sugar, but is less caloric and suitable for diabetics. Seeing E953 chocolate among the ingredients, the buyer can be sure that he will receive a product with a pure and rich cocoa flavor.

The influence of polyalcohols on humans. Benefits and harms

With increasing interest in nutrition comes consumer interest in information about polyols. What it is, harmful or not, many want to know. Speaking about the benefits and harms of polyhydric alcohols, inthe first thing to consider are substances used as food additives.

As mentioned above, sorbitol, xylitol and isom alt are sugar substitutes in foods. At the same time, their usefulness as antibacterial, diabetic, dietary and preventive supplements is obvious. Sorbitol and xylitol have a positive effect on intestinal motility and are used as a gentle laxative.

The negative impact on the human body depends on the amount and frequency of use. The constant intake of large doses of sugar substitutes based on polyols can provoke an imbalance in the gastrointestinal tract, exacerbate cholecystitis, cause nausea, and headaches. It is not recommended to use sweeteners for people suffering from liver or kidney failure, gastrointestinal diseases and chronic hepatitis.

Xylitol is a deadly hazard to dogs. The animal's body takes even the smallest dose of a substance for sugar and triggers a powerful release of insulin. The result is glycemia with a sad prognosis.

World and Russian polyol market

Polyalcohols for industrial needs are synthesized in all developed countries of the world. The existing volumes of production capacity of higher alcohols in our country are not enough to saturate the entire market. Therefore, most of the raw materials are imported from other countries. The ratio of domestic production to imports of polyols is 1:3. This primarily applies to petrochemical products.

Domestic production of polyols in Russiacarried out in volumes corresponding to real demand. Most of the polyols for the production of polymeric materials in our country are used for the manufacture of foam rubber, in second place are the needs of the automotive industry and construction.

Biopolyols in vitro

The sugar alcohol market in Russia is 90% imported. Own production of food polyols from vegetable raw materials has been launched at only one plant - Marbiopharm LLC.

Assessment of demand for polyhydric alcohols unambiguously predicts the growth of demand in all industries in all countries. This means that the production of polyols will develop and increase volumes around the world.

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