Anthracene is a product of coal tar, which is a by-product collected from carbonization of coal. Coal tar includes about one and a half percent of anthracene. It is colorless in nature, but exhibits a blue florescence under ultraviolet light. Thus, it is used in production of red dye alizarin and other dyes. anthracene is first converted into anthroquinone; which is the product used in preparation of dye.
Anthracene is also used as a scintillator for detectors of high energy photons, electrons, and alpha particles, since it is an organic semiconductor by nature. Plastics, such as polyvinyltoluene, can be doped with anthracene to produce a plastic scintillator that is nearly water-equivalent for use in radiation therapy dosimetry. Its spectrum is maximum in between 400 nm and 440 nm. Uses of anthracene in wood preservatives, insecticides, and coating materials are notable as well.
Anthracene is a PAH (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons); and like most PAHs, it has been used in making scintillation crystals and smoke screens, along with dyes, plastics and pesticides. The purpose of a scintillation counter is to detect the number of sparks or flashes that occur during a certain period of time.
It is expected that coal tar would be conserved more diligently in the coming years, accruing to improved technology in coal-based plants and wood-based industry’s functioning. Thus, it will benefit the anthracene market in terms of availability of raw material for its extraction, and increasing the supply, consequently. Matching that supply, the demand for the product is deemed to grow in the coming six to seven years, pertaining to stringent and increasing rigorous quality, performance and environmental standards. In general, as the projected growth for the dye and pigment industry is high, the same would be for anthracene market.
Anthracene has the edge over its substitutes, when it comes to scintillating properties, in terms of radiation detection, high flash point with stability, and recyclables from plastics combined with uniqueness of being non-toxic and liquid in nature. As scintillators, there are two main products in the anthracene market, namely, Liquid Scintillator ASL-14, and Scintillator Paint ASP-14. The former being non-toxic and liquid in nature, and the latter being ink type or paint.
The applicability of anthracene as a scintillator extends to detection of radiation leakage at nuclear power plants, detection of potentially harmful radioactive substance for homeland security purposes at airports, seaports, etc., detecting the minimal, yet harmful amount of radiation present in food and beverage in factory and school.
Coming to its challenges, anthracene has harmful impacts on the body if inhaled via contaminated air. If a person inhales it, firstly, lungs are damaged. There is a high probability of inhaling anthracene and PAHs if a person is working at a hazardous waste site where PAHs are disposed. Similarly, it can also get inside one’s body via food items and beverages. There is a possible risk of exposure when a person’s skin comes into contact with products including creosote, roofing tar, heavy oils, or coal tar and contaminated soil where PAHs are found.
The PAHs can spread and target fat tissues, once inside the human body. Inside the human body, the kidneys, liver, and fat tissues might get affected. However, in few days, the PAHs usually get released from the human body through urine and feces. In case of exposure, it can affect human health in terms of being hazardous to eyes, skin and the respiratory tract. In addition, it can cause fire and explosion when exposed to the environment thus hampering anthracene market demand.
The sanction by the EU to ban the use of PAH in their region has turned out to be a restraint for the market growth in the region. Coming to regional markets, the U.S. has been, historically, a dominant importer of coal tar from countries, such as, Netherlands, France and Germany. Apart from these, China and Europe are the other dominant regions, as of today. However, EU is expected to have a stagnant growth in future, corresponding to the resolution passed to ban PAH, as mentioned above. Some of the companies that are involved in the anthracene market are Anward, ZINC, Amadis Chemical, Viats-M Laboratory, and Tokyo Chemical Industry (TCI).
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