Benzene is used mainly as an intermediate to make other chemicals. About 80% of benzene is consumed in the production of three chemicals, ethylbenzene, cumene, and cyclohexane. Its most widely produced derivative is ethylbenzene, precursor to styrene, which is used to make polymers and plastics. Cumene is converted phenol for resins and adhesives. Cyclohexane is used in the manufacture of Nylon. Smaller amounts of benzene are used to make some types of rubbers, lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs, explosives, and pesticides.
In both the US and Europe, 50% of benzene is used in the production of ethylbenzene/styrene, 20% is used in the production of cumene, and about 15% of benzene is used in the production of cyclohexane (eventually to nylon).
Currently, the production of and demand for benzene in the Middle East register the greatest increases worldwide. It will probably see its share of the global supply and demand expand by 3.7 and 3.3 percentage points, respectively, until 2018. However, the Asia-Pacific region will continue to dominate the market and account for almost half of the global demand.
In laboratory research, toluene is now often used as a substitute for benzene. The solvent-properties of the two are similar, but toluene is less toxic and has a wider liquid range.
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