Diethylene glycol (DEG) is a light-colored, odorless, viscous substance with a sweet taste. The chemical formula is C4H10O3. This is an antifreeze that is quite common in industry. Ingestion can lead to intoxication with symptoms such as kidney failure and neurological problems.
This substance is a highly toxic organic solvent that causes kidney and liver failure and can even lead to death if ingested. DEG poisoning can occur when it is inappropriately used in chemical preparations, replacing other products that are non-toxic to humans. Since 1937, dozens of cases of poisoning have been registered in different countries.
What are the uses of diethylene glycol?
widely used as a solvent for water-insoluble chemicals and drugs;
in brewing it can be used in the process of cooling drinks;
can be used in the pharmaceutical industry;
in the production of cosmetics, lubricants, heating fuels and plasticizers.
Is this substance common in beer production?
In breweries, a liquid composed of water and DEG circulates through the outer wall of the fermentation tank, cooling the contents. This is necessary because the temperature of the beer during fermentation must be kept low, between 8 and 10 degrees. At no stage is DEG mixed with food as it is considered toxic. It does not have the function of flavoring, thickening or sweetening. It is not regulated as a supplement.
Diethylene glycol is rarely used in breweries. Usually breweries use pure alcohol without any preservatives or chemicals mixed with water at 30% to cool the tanks.
The beer tanks are cooled in a closed circuit. Alcohol with cold water passes through tubes called «serpentines» around the beer tank. She has no direct contact with beer.
It is also used mixed with water. To get the beer closer to zero temperature, we need the coil temperature to be -5°C or -6°C.
The diethylene glycol molecule is sold by already synthesized industries. It not only reduces the temperature, but also acts as an antifreeze. Water, for example, freezes at 0 degrees. If we mix DEG with water, we can make that liquid stay in that physical state at lower temperatures, making the cooling process more efficient.