Carbon tetrachloride is a sweet smelling colorless liquid, also known by other names such as tetra chloromethane and carbon tet. Carbon tetrachloride is a vital chemical which was introduced by a French chemist in 1839 and has been an important inorganic chemical since. It is manufactured commercially as a by-product of chlorination of methane. It is synthesized during the manufacturing of other chloromethane products such as dichloromethane. Carbon tetra chloride molecules contains only one carbon atom which is surrounded by four chloride atoms. It is tetrahydral in shape and is highly symmetrical. Tetra chloromethane is a non polar compound similar to methane gas. Carbon tetrachloride is a very good solvent. Being a non polar compound, it readily dissolves other non polar compounds such as oil, fat and iodine.
Carbon tetrachloride was extensively used as a fire extinguisher, refrigerant and cleaning agents. It was widely used to produce chloroflurocarbon refrigerants. However, chloroflurocarbon was banned after research proved that it is an ozone depleting agent. This in turn decreased the demand for carbon tetrachloride. Despite carbon tetrachloride being used as pesticides to kill insects in grains, its usage was banned in U.S. in 1970 owing to the increasing health concerns related to tetrachloro carbon-containing pesticides. Hence these uses are considered as historic usages of this compound. Presently, carbon tetrachloride is used in significant quantities as a laboratory reagent. It is used as a solvent and a source of chlorine in a wide range of chemicals. Moreover this inorganic compound is a hepatotoxin. It means it is toxic to liver and hence is used in scientific research as a hepatoprotective agent.
Asia Pacific is the largest as well as the fastest growing market for Carbon tetrachloride and other chlorine containing hydrocarbons. The demand for Carbon tetrachloride is rising due to its increasing demand from application industries and increasing population needs. China has emerged as the leader in Asia Pacific for this industry. Some of the other major markets in this region are India, South Korea and Japan. South Asian countries contribute significantly for the growing demand for carbon tetrachloride. Emerging economies such as Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia have been organizing major global chemical industry events over the past few years. Increased industrial manufacturing activities and local production is boosting the demand for this compound in Asia-Pacific region. In North America and Europe the demand for carbon tetrachloride was significantly high over the past decade. However the demand in these two regions has declined recently due to the environmental regulations by government agencies such as U.S. Environmental Protection agency. Extensive research studies highlights that consumption of carbon tetrachloride gives results in emission of gases such as Chloro fluro carbon (CFC) which is termed as a harmful gas as it leads to ozone layer depletion and is banned in North America and European Union. Owing to this regulatory legislation, the usage of carbon tetrachloride as a refrigerant and fire extinguishers has been replaced by tetrachloroethylene. However the demand for tetrachloro methane as hepatoprotective agents and laboratory reagents is increasing globally. Increasing chemical manufacturing activities in Brazil and Russia is also increasing the demand for this compound in Rest of the World regions.
Some of the major carbon tetrachloride manufacturing companies are AkzoNobel N.V., Occidental Chemical Corporation, Ineos, Solvay S.A., Kem One, Shin-Etsu, Gujarat Alkalies & Chemicals Ltd. and Tokuyama Corporation.