PEG (polyethylene glycol)
Also referred to as polyethylene oxide, this polyether compound is used in a wide variety of applications from industrial and commercial manufacturing processes to pharmaceuticals. PEG is generally produced via the interaction of water with ethylene glycol or other ethylene glycol oligomers. Catalysts for this process can be either acidic or basic, and produce either cationic or anionic polymerization. The anionic mechanism for producing PEG is preferred due to its production of the desired product with lower polydispersity. In the medical field, PEG is used as the base of numerous laxatives during whole bowel irrigation prior to surgical intervention or colonoscopy, and as an excipient in numerous pharmaceutical products. Commercially, it can be found in skin creams, toothpaste, body armor coatings, and in diabetes monitoring tattoos. Industrially, PEG is used as solid rocket fuel in submarine-launched ballistic missiles, as a solvent in clean coal burning power plants, and as a polymer host in solid polymer electrolytes like those found in battery cells.