Ethyleneamines are chemicals that contain ethylene (-CH2CH2-) linkages between amine groups; these primary and/or secondary amino groups can react with many chemicals to produce a wide range of chemical products. Ethyleneamines are commercially produced via the monoethanolamine (MEA)/reductive amination (RA) process or the ethylene dichloride (EDC) process and are generally colorless, low-viscosity liquids with a fishy amine odor, although some are solids at room temperature. Although there have been some advancements in end-use markets in terms of chemistry and technology, the functionality requirements of ethyleneamine products have changed very little.
The largest application for ethyleneamines is in the production of chelating agents and polyamide/epoxy resins. EDA is consumed for nonreactive polyamides, while higher ethyleneamines are consumed for reactive polyamides. Ethyleneamines, primarily the higher amines (DETA, TETA, TEPA, and aminoethylpiperazine [AEP]), can be used directly as curing agents for epoxy resins. Chelating agents consume mainly EDA and DETA. Other major applications include lubricants, fungicides, polyamide-epichlorohydrin (PAE) wet-strength paper resins, and surfactants/fabric softeners.