Epichlorohydrin (abbreviated ECH) is an organochlorine compound and an epoxide. Despite its name, it is not a halohydrin. It is a colorless liquid with a pungent, garlic-like odor, moderately soluble in water, but miscible with most polar organic solvents. It is a chiralmolecule generally existing as a racemic mixture of right-handed and left-handed enantiomers. Epichlorohydrin is a highly reactive electrophilic compound and is used in the production of glycerol, plastics, epoxy glues and resins, and elastomers.
Epichlorohydrin is mainly converted to bisphenol A diglycidyl ether, a building block in the manufacture of epoxy resins. It is also a precursor to monomers for other resins and polymers. Another usage is the conversion to synthetic glycerol. However, the rapid increase in biodiesel production, where glycerol is a waste product, has led to a glut of glycerol on the market, rendering this process uneconomical. Synthetic glycerol is now used only in sensitive pharmaceutical, and biotech applications where quality standards are very high
Polymers made from epichlorohydrin, e.g., polyamide-epichlorohydrin resins, are used in paper reinforcement and in the food industry to manufacture tea bags, coffee filters, and sausage/salami casings as well as with water purification