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Ethylene glycol (IUPAC name: ethane-1,2-diol) is an organic compound (a vicinal diol) with the formula (CH2OH)2. It is mainly used for two purposes, as a raw material in the manufacture of polyester fibers and for antifreeze formulations. It is an odorless, colorless, sweet-tasting, toxic, viscous liquid.


Minor uses of ethylene glycol include the manufacture of capacitors, as a chemical intermediate in the manufacture of 1,4-dioxane, as an additive to prevent corrosion in liquid cooling systems for personal computers, and inside the lens devices of cathode-ray tube type of rear projection televisions. Ethylene glycol is also used in the manufacture of some vaccines, but it is not itself present in these injections. It is used as a minor (1–2%) ingredient in shoe polish and also in some inks and dyes. Ethylene glycol has seen some use as a rot and fungal treatment for wood, both as a preventative and a treatment after the fact. It has been used in a few cases to treat partially rotted wooden objects to be displayed in museums. It is one of only a few treatments that are successful in dealing with rot in wooden boats, and is relatively cheap. Ethylene glycol may also be one of the minor ingredients in screen cleaning solutions, along with the main ingredient isopropyl alcohol. Ethylene glycol is commonly used as a preservative for biological specimens, especially in secondary schools during dissection as a safer alternative to formaldehyde. It is also used as part of the water-based hydraulic fluid used to control subsea oil and gas production equipment.

Ethylene glycol is used as a protecting group in organic synthesis to protect carbonyl compounds such as ketones and aldehydes.

Silicon dioxide reacts in heated reflux under dinitrogen with ethylene glycol and an alkali metal base to produce highly reactive, pentacoordinate silicates which provide access to a wide variety of new silicon compounds. The silicates are essentially insoluble in all polar solvents except methanol.

It also can be used in vaccine manufacture or as a formaldehyde substitute when preserving biological specimens.