Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a chemical compound that has been used as an industrial solvent, primarily to remove grease from metal parts during the manufacture of a variety of products. It also was used in certain consumer products such as paint removers, typewriter correction fluids, adhesives and stain removers. Today TCE is primarily used in the manufacture of refrigerants and other chemicals.
Historical Uses of TCE
Although TCE’s manufacture and use has decreased significantly in the past decade, TCE was first widely produced in the 1920s as a solvent for a variety of organic materials.
In the early- to mid-20th century, it was used widely to extract vegetable oil4 from source plants such as coconut and palm, decaffeinate coffee beans5 and combined with nitrous oxide in anesthetics. It was also used for removing residual water in the production of 100 percent ethanol.
TCE was also used as a dry cleaning solvent, but in the 1950s it was largely replaced in the United States by tetrachloroethylene (also known as perchloroethylene).