Product Information


Methyldiethanolamine (CAS: 105-59-9) Supplier in Europe

Methyldiethanolamine, commonly referred to as MDEA, is an organic compound characterized by its chemical formula CH3N(C2H4OH)2. Exhibiting properties of a tertiary amine, MDEA is a colorless liquid that carries an ammonia-like odor.

Due to its affinity for water, ethanol, and benzene, it is highly miscible with these substances, making it a versatile compound in various industrial applications.

In the chemical industry, MDEA is valued predominantly for its role as a sweetening agent. It is widely employed in processes such as chemical refining, syngas production, and natural gas treatment.

The objective of sweetening is to remove acid gases from gas streams, which allows for the purification of these products for further use or sale.

Unlike some other amines, MDEA does not readily react with certain sulfur compounds like COS and CS2, preventing solution loss and enabling more efficient gas treatment processes.

Biodegradation of MDEA has been observed under specific conditions. Though it does not break down readily within a typical 28-day period in activated sludge, studies have shown that in a continuous-flow experiment where the inoculum is given sufficient time to acclimate, degradation can exceed 96% after 40 days.

This indicates that biodegradation can play a substantial role in the environmental fate of MDEA, although it is largely dependent on the presence of acclimated conditions.

Chemical Properties

Methyldiethanolamine, referred to as MDEA, exhibits several distinctive chemical properties due to its molecular structure. Its formula is CH3N(C2H4OH)2, identifying it as a tertiary amine with two hydroxyl groups, which gives MDEA the combined characteristics of amines and alcohols.

Physical State: It appears as a colorless to yellowish viscous liquid at room temperature and has a noticeable ammonia-like odor.

Solubility: MDEA is completely soluble in water, which allows it to be used in various applications that require water mixing. It is also miscible with organic solvents such as ethanol and benzene.

Boiling Point and Molecular Weight:

  • Boiling Point: Data not specified here
  • Molecular Weight: 119.1622 g/mol

Reactivity: As a tertiary amine, it can engage in typical amine reactions, such as forming salts with acids or undergoing alkylation and acylation. Its dual alcohol functionality allows it to form esters and undergo oxidation reactions.

Stability: It is stable under normal conditions but can become unstable at elevated temperatures or when in contact with strong oxidizing agents.

Safety Considerations: While handling MDEA, safety precautions must be taken to avoid exposure, as it can be hazardous upon inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact.

The table below summarizes the key chemical properties:

Property Description
Molecular Formula CH3N(C2H4OH)2
Physical State Colorless to yellowish viscous liquid
Odor Ammonia-like
Solubility Miscible with water, ethanol, benzene
Molecular Weight 119.1622 g/mol
Reactivity Forms amine salts, esters; undergoes oxidation
Stability Stable under normal conditions; reacts with oxidizers

Production and Synthesis

Methyldiethanolamine (MDEA) is synthesized industrially primarily by the reaction of ethylene oxide with an aqueous ammonia solution. The process involves a sequence of consecutive reactions, where ammonia first reacts to form monoethanolamine (MEA), which further reacts to diethanolamine (DEA), and finally to triethanolamine (TEA).

The challenge in this synthetic route is the selective production of MDEA due to the consecutive nature of the reactions.

Synthesis Steps:

  1. Ammonia Activation: Ammonia reacts with ethylene oxide to form MEA.
  2. Secondary Reaction: MEA reacts further with ethylene oxide yielding DEA.
  3. Tertiary Reaction: DEA, under continued reaction with ethylene oxide, can lead to the formation of TEA.

To improve the selectivity towards MDEA, a catalytic process has been developed. This approach maximizes the production of DEA while minimizing the formation of MEA and TEA.

In terms of synthesis conditions, the reaction typically requires careful control of temperature and pH to optimize yield and selectivity. The use of catalysts can also play a crucial role in enhancing the efficiency of the synthesis process.

Typical Production Process:

  • Initial Reactants: Ethylene oxide, Ammonia, Water
  • Reaction Conditions: Controlled temperature and pH
  • Catalysis: Utilization of selective catalysts to improve yield

MDEA’s synthesis is an integral part of the ethanolamines production in the chemical industry. Once synthesized, MDEA serves as a vital chemical used extensively in gas treatment as a sweetening agent because of its ability to selectively scrub hydrogen sulfide (H2S) from gas streams, differentiating it from other amines.


Methyldiethanolamine (MDEA) serves a critical role in various industrial processes due to its chemical properties as a tertiary amine with two hydroxyl groups.

Gas Treatment: MDEA is highly effective for the selective removal of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) from various gas streams.

It is commonly utilized in refineries, natural gas processing plants, and syngas production facilities to purify the gas before it is further processed or sold.

Coatings Industry: As a co-initiator in type II photoinitiator combinations, MDEA helps in the production of coatings.

It enhances the solubility of resins and contributes to solution stability by mitigating pH drift, thereby improving the quality of the final product.

Chemical Synthesis: Its reactivity with acid chlorides and carbon dioxide allows MDEA to be used as an intermediate in the synthesis of various organic compounds.

The following list details the main areas where MDEA is applied:

  • Gas sweetening, specifically for the selective removal of H2S
  • Coatings production, acting as a stabilizing agent
  • Manufacture of pharmaceuticals and surfactants, as an intermediate
  • Chemical industry processes, for neutralization and absorption tasks

MDEA’s low regeneration heat requirement compared to similar amines offers significant energy savings in gas treatment applications, making it a more efficient and cost-effective solution.

Environmental Impact and Safety

Methyldiethanolamine, commonly known as MDEA, is an organic compound utilized extensively in the chemical and oil refining industries as a sweetening agent due to its ability to absorb acidic gases. Its environmental and safety profile is crucial for its handling and application in various industrial processes.

Human Exposure Risks:

  • Acute and Chronic Toxicity: MDEA is recognized to have low acute and repeat dose toxicity.
  • Irritation: Exposure may cause moderate eye irritation and slight skin irritation.
  • Reproductive Effects: No reproductive toxicity is observed in experimental animals at levels that do not cause maternal toxicity.
  • Mutagenicity: MDEA is neither mutagenic nor genotoxic.

Environmental Impact:

  • Ecosystem Interaction: Details on MDEA’s long-term effects on the environment are less documented.
  • However, proper containment and disposal measures are advised to prevent any potential negative impact on ecosystems.

Handling and Storage:

  • Compatibility: As an aminoalcohol, it can react with acids and isocyanates; therefore, it should be stored in a manner that avoids contact with these substances.
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDS): They are essential for providing detailed information on the safe handling procedures and should be readily available.

Emergency Procedures:

  • In case of a spill or accidental release, it is imperative to follow appropriate emergency protocols to mitigate any risk to human health and the environment.

Health Effects

Methyldiethanolamine, commonly referred to as MDEA, presents a low hazard risk in terms of its health effects. It is notable for its use as a chemical intermediate in a variety of industrial applications. When handled in occupational settings or used by consumers, the risk of adverse health effects is generally anticipated to be low.

Acute Exposure:

  • Inhalation: May cause irritation of the nose and throat.
  • Skin Contact: Potential for irritation upon direct contact with the skin.

Chronic Exposure:

  • There is limited data on the long-term health effects of MDEA exposure. However, standard practice recommends avoiding prolonged or repeated contact to prevent the potential for skin sensitization or other chronic health issues.

Safety Measures:

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): When working with MDEA, it is advisable to wear suitable protective clothing, gloves, and eye/face protection to minimize exposure.
  • First Aid Measures:
    • Eye Contact: In case of contact with eyes, rinse immediately with plenty of water and seek medical advice.
    • Skin Contact: Wash skin with soap and water and remove contaminated clothing.
    • Ingestion: If swallowed, seek medical attention immediately and do not induce vomiting.

Regulatory agencies recommend that industries implementing MDEA ensure suitable safety protocols and provide adequate training to handle potential exposure, placing a strong emphasis on preventive measures due to the compound’s chemical properties.

Regulation and Standards

Methyldiethanolamine (MDEA) is subject to various regulatory guidelines and standards to ensure the protection of human health and the environment.

Within the European Union, MDEA’s regulation falls under the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals) framework, aiming to manage the potential risks from chemicals.

In the workplace, MDEA is regulated under the Chemical Agents Directive, specifically under Article 2(b)(i), which pertains to hazardous agents.

Construction products containing MDEA must also comply with the Construction Product Regulation – Annex I (3), relating to hazardous substances.

The accurate handling of MDEA is essential, and safety data sheets must provide comprehensive information to users. Environmental exposure controls and personal protective equipment are strictly advised to ensure safety.

Regulatory Body Standard or Directive Details
European Union REACH Risk management and chemical safety
Workplace Safety Chemical Agents Directive Guidelines for handling hazardous agents
Construction Construction Product Regulation Standards for hazardous substances in construction products

Storage and Handling

Methyldiethanolamine, commonly known as MDEA, requires careful storage and handling to ensure safety and maintain its quality.

For safe handling:

  • Personnel should wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves and face protection.
  • It is imperative to maintain adequate ventilation in the handling area to prevent inhalation of vapors.
  • Direct contact with skin, eyes, or clothing should be avoided, with immediate washing if contact occurs.
  • Ingestion and inhalation are to be strictly avoided.

When storing MDEA:

  • Containers should be kept in a cool, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight and sources of ignition.
  • The storage environment should be stable, with avoidance of extreme temperatures which could compromise the integrity of MDEA.
  • The material should be stored in a manner that prevents leakage or spillage and is compatible with the chemical to avoid reactions.
Precaution Action
Handling with PPE Wear gloves and face protection
Avoiding contact Do not get in eyes, on skin, or on clothing
Ventilation Use only in well-ventilated areas
Storage temperature Keep in a cool place, avoid extreme temperatures
Storage location Store in a dry, well-ventilated area away from ignition sources
Container integrity Ensure containers are properly sealed and labeled

Analytical Methods

In the realm of chemical analysis, Methyldiethanolamine (MDEA) requires precise methods to quantify its presence in various samples, particularly in industrial settings. The methods employed must also contend with the challenges posed by amine’s basic properties.

One prominent method involves Gas Chromatography (GC), which separates compounds based on their volatility and interaction with the column’s stationary phase.

Volatile amines like MDEA often necessitate base deactivation techniques due to their reactivity which conventional columns may not withstand.

Another technique is the use of Headspace Solid-Phase Microextraction (HS-SPME) coupled with GC.

This approach is beneficial when seeking to minimize sample manipulation and solvent use. For MDEA, the method typically involves an adsorption-desorption cycle where MDEA is first captured on a fiber and then thermally released into the GC injector.

In some instances, particularly in process waters with high ammonium concentration, standard procedures may struggle due to interference. As a response, the analytical community has developed targeted methods, incorporating specific sample preparation steps to account for these challenging matrices.

Method Description Use Case
Gas Chromatography Utilizes varying volatilities and a base-deactivated column for separation. Air sample analysis, particularly in workplace environments.
HS-SPME with GC Employs fiber adsorption and thermal desorption for measurement. Matrixes with potential interference, such as water/ethanolamine mixtures.

Disposal Procedures

When disposing of Methyldiethanolamine (MDEA), one should adhere to the following guidelines to ensure safety and environmental compliance:

Personal Precautions:

  • Avoid inhalation and skin contact.
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) as required.

Material Handling:

  • Do not allow the chemical to enter drains or waterways.
  • Absorb spills with inert material, then place in chemical waste container.

Waste Management:

  • Dispose of in accordance with local regulations.
  • Contact licensed waste disposal services.

Environmental Precautions:

  • Prevent further leakage or spillage if safe to do so.
  • Do not release into the environment without proper authorization.

Container Disposal:

  • Clean container thoroughly before disposal.
  • Ensure containers are labeled and sealed properly.

Frequently Asked Questions

This section addresses common inquiries regarding Methyldiethanolamine, ranging from its industrial applications to safety data.

What are the industrial applications of this amine?

Methyldiethanolamine is predominantly used as a sweetening agent in industries such as chemical manufacturing, oil refining, syngas production, and natural gas processing.

How is the cost of this chemical typically assessed in the market?

The cost of Methyldiethanolamine is typically assessed based on market supply-demand dynamics, production costs, and its availability in the market.

Where can I find the Safety Data Sheet for this compound?

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for Methyldiethanolamine can often be found through chemical supply companies or directly from manufacturers’ websites.

What is the molecular structure of this amine?

Methyldiethanolamine has the chemical formula CH3N(C2H4OH)2, indicating it consists of a tertiary amine with two ethanol groups attached to a nitrogen atom.

What are the known compatibility issues with other chemicals?

This chemical should be used with caution as it may react with strong oxidizing agents, acids, and carbon dioxide absorbers.

What are the potential health effects related to exposure to this substance?

Exposure to Methyldiethanolamine can lead to health effects such as skin and eye irritation, as well as respiratory discomfort. In severe cases, prolonged contact or ingestion can also result in organ damage.