What Are Isocyanates?

If you use plastics, paint or adhesives, you are probably using isocyanates without realising it. Isocyanates are often used as part of the raw materials required to make polyurethane and are also frequently used as a binding agent in the manufacture of varnishes, paints and adhesive products.

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The Chemistry

Isocyanates feature the elements oxygen, nitrogen and carbon in an aromatic ring or alkyd chain formation. Isocyanates are classified according to how many oxygen, carbon and nitrogen groups they have. The most popular form is the group called diisocyanates, which means that this type of isocyanate has two reactive groups in it. Monoisocyanates have only the one reactive group in them, and polyisocyanates have multiple reactive oxygen, nitrogen and carbon clusters.

Physical States

Isocyanates can be found as a solid, usually a powder, or as a liquid. Caution is needed with liquid isocyanates, as they can release vapours at room temperature, and these can be toxic if breathed in. Less reactive or volatile isocyanates are generally easier and much safer to use in the commercial arena.

While isocyanates are useful compounds, their effects on health need to be taken into account and suitable precautions taken. According to this report in The Guardian, exposure to isocyanates can lead to asthmatic conditions, so proper ventilation and breathing equipment in the presence of these compounds is always urged.

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Isocyanates can be found in metal bonding adhesive, which can make a great choice for bonding metal to metal. Metal adhesives tend to be much more cost-effective and generate fewer hazards than welding, and the labour costs are lower. The finish can be very smooth, unlike when rivets or screws are used. Another bonus is the seal that the adhesive forms can be flexible in a range of temperatures. If you think metal bonding adhesive could be helpful in your work or business, it might be worthwhile finding out more it through a company such as http://www.ct1ltd.com/product-applications/metal-to-metal-adhesive, which can supply you with more information.

Isocyanates are versatile and flexible chemical components that are used in a wide variety of commercial applications. As they vary in volatility, they can be useful in a number of ways, although breathing in vapours generated by isocyanates is to be avoided. Always use caution and make sure there is plenty of ventilation when in the presence of isocyanates.


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