Uses & Benefits
Virtually all ethylene oxide produced is used as an intermediate in the production of other chemicals, that are then used to manufacture polyester fiber for clothes, upholstery, carpet, and pillows; and produce ethylene glycols for automotive engine antifreeze. Ethylene glycol also is used to manufacture fiberglass used in products such as jet skis, bathtubs and bowling balls, as well as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic resin used to make beverage containers and packaging film.
Other ethylene oxide derivatives are used as ingredients in household and industrial cleaners, personal care items such as cosmetics and shampoos, heat transfer liquids, polyurethanes, plasticizers, ointments and pharmaceutical preparations.
Ethylene oxide sterilization is primarily used to sterilize medical and pharmaceutical products that cannot support conventional, high-steam sterilization procedures. Delicate, heat-sensitive medical devices that incorporate plastics and electronics could be warped or otherwise damaged by steam sterilization. As a low-temperature sterilizer, ethylene oxide gas won’t damage these types of medical devices. Ethylene oxide also is used to sterilize other healthcare products, such as bandages and ointments, reducing potential damage to the product that may occur from other means of sterilization.