9 Industrial Applications for Isopropyl Alcohol 99% (IPA 99%)

Isopropyl alcohol 99%, or IPA 99%, is a clear, colorless, flammable liquid with a distinct odor. Cost-effective, HAPs-free and less toxic than methanol, it has long been recognized as a universal solvent. Due to modern manufacturing systems that now produce superior grades of IPA in high yields, expansion in market supply has fueled innovation in water sensitive applications. 

The majority of IPA (Isopropyl Alcohol), is made by hydrating propylene, although it sometimes catalytically converted from acetone. Reversely, IPA can also be a precursor for acetone. Isopropyl Alcohol is the simplest secondary alcohol. Tethered to the middle of the molecule’s three carbons is its lone hydroxyl (-OH) group. Its oxygen has a partial negative charge, while the connecting hydrogen and carbon atoms have partial positive charges, making IPA a polar molecule. Miscible in water, IPA also dissolves a wide range of nonpolar compounds like oils and resins. 

Although the electronics and medical device sectors consume the lion’s share of IPA 99%, it is also an essential process agent in alternate arenas. In this article we will examine some of the top industrial uses for IPA 99% as well as which grade might be appropriate for each.

Disclaimer:  Because IPA is flammable in liquid and vapor form, and is an irritant, appropriate care should always be taken for storage and handling. These chemicals are meant to be used for research, industrial work, cleaning or disinfecting, hence they should be stored appropriately and away from young children and infants. 

1. Electronics 

IPA 99% is a common cleaner and degreaser of cables, connectors, electrical contacts, LCDs, keypads, glass, fiber optics, cables, keypads, and tape heads. Since water poses a shock hazard when working with electrical components, using water-free IPA to clean electronics is compulsory for safety.
Specifically engineered for manufacturing semiconductors, Cleanroom grade IPA 99%. Additional steps such as submicron filtering are required to remove nano-sized contaminants that can disrupt electronic connections; therefore the cost of this premium product is higher. Containing only ppm level impurities, each lot is tested for 40 trace metals. With increasing concentration, the flash point of IPA is lowered while evaporation hastens, giving 99% purity potential for front end of the line (FEOL) washing of semiconductor wafers, printed circuit boards, and integrated circuits. Highly pure and nonpolar, it might be appropriate for rinsing away etchant salts, metal residues, thermal grease, and rosin solder flux. Exceptionally pure, anhydrous IPA 99% can be critical for dewatering and the final cleaning of wafers, silicon, solar cells, and fuel cells.

2. Extractives 

Due to its ability to solubilize non-polar compounds, IPA 99% is frequently used to process essential oils, fats, flavors, waxes, and nutraceuticals. It has been used to extract phospholipids and Omega-3 fatty acids from fish for the creation of high quality triglyceride oil [1]. For crafting resins from botanicals, it might be employed as a co-solvent with ethanol for combining extraction and winterization in one step, streamlining the process. When a wax concentrate is preferred, a quick-wash extract with cold IPA 99% might be the most efficient method. 

Odoo text and image block

3. Coatings

IPA 99% is widely used in the coatings industry as a reagent for producing polymers as well as a dispersion agent for downstream. Intermediates that can be made from it include acetone, glycerol, methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK), and bisphenol A, common precursors for resins and paints (CN102050713A). MIKB, a solvent for surface coatings, can be synthesized by reacting a gaseous mixture of acetone and IPA with hydrogen in the presence of an Aldol condensation catalyst [EP1931615A1]. Methyl methacrylate can be generated by condensing acetone and hydrogen cyanide and then copolymerized in an IPA solution to make acrylic.

IPA 99% is a common diluent for resins and paints. For impregnating cellulosic or fiberglass substrates with resin, IPA 99% might be used to thin saturating mixes to hasten penetration of the polymers into the media, after which it can be flashed off in an oven or left to dry. Because it dissolves uncured polymers, workers might also use it to wash tools, equipment, or spills.


4. Pharmaceuticals

For manufacturing medicines, IPA 99%  is used to create, purify, and analyze compounds, as well as to decontaminate the reactors. Whether synthesizing amino acids, and polypeptides, it is a protic solvent is for many multi-step organic reactions.
IPA 99% is also suitable for running lab analyses such as HPLC, GC, fluorescence, or TLC for characterization and quantification of chemicals. In 2009 there was a worldwide shortage of acetonitrile, a common solvent for reverse phase HPLC and UPLC, so scientists developed more eluent systems with IPA [3]. Because this grade is micron filtered and has low non-volatile content, further filtration is not required. Since it is controlled for UV absorbance, it is suitable for critical analyses. 

5. Molecular biology

Histological grade 99% IPA is free of DNases, RNases, and nucleic acids for preparing samples for downstream molecular reactions like spectrophotometric analysis, gel electrophoresis, restriction enzyme analysis, nucleotide sequencing, or polymerase chain reaction for nucleic acid detection [2]. IPA 99% is recommended for concentrating and purifying DNA when large sample sizes are available because it is efficient and fast. Keeping conditions at room temperature and minimizing incubation time should help prevent salt precipitation.

6. Automotive

The automotive industry uses IPA 99% for car care. Car detailers usually use IPA to strip waxes from cars before painting or polishing and to thin lacquer. Since it is a thawing agent, it is often added to windshield washes or to fuel tanks to solubilize water so that it does not separate out from the gas and freeze in the lines.

7. Personal Care Products

IPA 99% is frequently formulated into aftershaves, bath products, cosmetics, hand sanitizers, lotions, and perfumes as an extractant, diluent, anti-foam, or surfactant. It is extensively used in the nail care industry for making polishes and for cleaning nails. IPA 99% in the polish aids smooth application and evaporates rapidly. Salon workers then use IPA 99% to clean, imparting high shine to the nail surface. ACS/USP/NF grade is required for personal care products that are processed with IPA.

8. Medical
IPA 99% is used for general sterilization in medical facilities. Hospitals and clinics use IPA to sterilize medical equipment, to clean surfaces, and for skin treatments and dressing. Since it has a low flashpoint, it should be stored away from ignition sources. 

9. Food Industry 
The food industry uses IPA 99% to process dyes, glazes, supplements, vinegar, and to sanitize surfaces, reactors, tools, and vats. Since standing water breeds bacteria, hydrophilic IPA washes it away, disinfecting equipment during evaporation. Free of toxic contaminants, USP grade IPA is suited for cleaning surfaces used to manufacture food or beverage.

Conclusion
Now that ultra-high purity IPA 99% is available to the industrial market, small electronic components like printed circuit boards can be manufactured efficiently. Because the quality and cost of your industrial application is dependent on purity, make sure to get the right grade of IPA for your needs. Below is a chart of IPA 99% potential uses broken down by grade: 

IPA 99% Grade

Potential Uses

ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL 99% Cleanroom Grade LP

FEOL cleaning - wafers, PCB, silicon, solar cells, fuel cells, copper films, tungsten, disinfectant, medical device

ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL 99% HPLC Grade

HPLC, UPLC, TLC, fluorescence, lab or research, environmental testing, medical device, disinfectant

Isopropyl Alcohol 99% ( IPA 99% )Tech Grade

General cleaning, solvent for inks, electronics, autos



For over 40 years, Lab Pro has been committed to delivering a complete chemical inventory for laboratories worldwide. Come visit the biggest Lab Supply showroom in California, or contact us online or at 888-452-2776.

Disclaimer: Because IPA is flammable in liquid and vapor form, and is an irritant, appropriate care should always be taken for storage and handling. These chemicals are meant to be used for research, industrial work, cleaning or disinfecting, hence they should be stored appropriately and away from young children and infants. 


References:

1 Drozdowski, B. & Ackman, R.G. J Am Oil Chem Soc (1969) 46: 371. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02636868 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02636868

2 Ivo Nikolaev Sirakov, Marcelo L. Larramendy, Sonia Soloneski (2019) Nucleic Acid Isolation and Downstream Applications, Nucleic Acids - From Basic Aspects to Laboratory Tools. Ch. 1 UR - https://doi.org/10.5772/61833 DO - 10.5772/61833 SN - 978-953-51-2264-7 PB - IntechOpen CY - Rijeka Y2 https://www.intechopen.com/books/nucleic-acids-from-basic-aspects-to-laboratory-tools/nucleic-acid-isolation-and-downstream-applications

3 Ankur M. Desai, Mark Andreae, Douglas G. Mullen, Mark M. Banaszak Holl, James R. Baker, Jr. Anal Methods, Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 Jan 1. Published in final edited form as: Anal Methods. 2011 Jan Acetonitrile shortage: use of isopropanol as an alternative elution system for ultra/high performance liquid chromatography; 3(1): 56–58. doi: 10.1039/c0ay00493f https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3092165/