Annual Production

The German chemist, Runge, isolated phenol from coal tar in 1834, and he gave it the name karbolsäure (coal-oil acid or carbolic acid), though its composition was not known until 1841. The name carbolic acid can be misleading, as it does not contain the functional group normally associated with organic acids, even though it is slightly acidic.







Phenol is produced now as an intermediate in the manufacture of a wide range of products, making accurate figures for its production difficult to obtain.

Most phenol is made from 1-methylethylbenzene (cumene), however, and this can be used as an indication of the levels of phenol production.


graph: production of cumene
chemical equation: phenol






Production of 1-methylethylbenzene (millions of tonnes)

N America 2.6
W Europe 2
E Europe 0.5
Asia/Pacific 1.2
S America 0.1
Figures for 2001


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