Use Cases

Methylamine is a complex organic molecule that is an essential building block for many things on our planet—but that doesn’t actually mean that it’s from our planet. Believe it or not, methylamine comes from an extraterrestrial source, and while it has significantly contributed to the Earth’s early chemistry, it has been found in the interstellar medium and is not originally of this world.

This primary amine is a building block of many amino acids and is found in extraterrestrial ices, likely from meteors that hit the earth early in its formation. 

But methylamine is more than just an extraterrestrial compound or a building block. It’s a chemical compound that is used to manufacture a range of products and materials that we rely on. Here’s what you should know about the vast uses of this versatile product. 

About Methylamine: What Is It?

Methylamine is a chemical compound and a derivative of ammonia that has a multitude of applications. With the formula name CH3NH2, methylamine is very similar to ammonia, NH3, only instead of three hydrogen atoms, one of these hydrogen atoms is replaced by a methyl group. 

Methylamine is often sold in the form of solutions or as an anhydrous gas stored in highly pressurized metal containers. 

This colorless chemical compound is highly recognizable because it has a strong odor—one that is similar to rotten fish. In fact, some have even said it smells like “a fishier version of ammonia.” It is heavier than air, and soluble in water and a range of other organic solvents. 

At room temperature, methylamine exists in a gaseous state, but when cooled, it can be used as a liquid solvent, or blended with:

  • Water
  • Methanol
  • Isopropanol
  • Acetone
  • Tetrahydrofuran (THF)
  • Hydrocarbons

Generally, it shares many of the same characteristics and properties as liquid ammonia, but the main difference is it actually dissolves organic substances more efficiently. Commercially, it’s produced through the reaction of ammonia and methanol, when in the presence of an aluminosilicate catalyst. Depending on the reaction kinetics and the reactant ratios used in production, there are three kinds of methylamine:

  • Monomethylamine (MMA)
  • Dimethylamine (DMA)
  • Trimethylamine (TMA)

It’s also important to note that methylamine is a controlled substance; it’s on the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) watchlist because it is a chemical precursor that’s used in the creation of MDMA (ecstasy) and methamphetamines. In fact, it was mentioned on the AMC series Breaking Bad for this reason, as the main characters used it to synthesize illicit drugs (Which, didn’t end well.).

A Note of Caution

Like many chemical compounds used in the production and manufacture of consumer goods and materials, methylamines should be handled with care. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), together with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, shares that methylamine gas can be a severe irritant to the eyes and respiratory tract, and can burn or irritate the skin. It should be handled and stored with precision and the utmost attention to safety specifications.

The Uses of Methylamine

According to the EPA, methylamine is used in the production of many different products and substances. These include:

  • Insecticides and herbicides
  • Photographic developer chemicals
  • Dyes and dye assists
  • Textiles
  • Rubber processing
  • Anticorrosive chemicals
  • Polymerization inhibitors during distillation
  • Inhibitors for coagulation and webbing in natural and synthetic latex
  • Prevention of polymerization in paint removers

However, these are not the only uses of methylamines. Methylamine is also used in the tanning of leather, it’s sometimes used in the creation of explosives, and it is also used in the manufacture of certain pharmaceuticals. Here are a few other uses and applications for methylamine.

Agricultural Applications

Methylamine in all of its forms (MMA, DMA, and TMA) is used to make many chemicals for agriculture. As previously mentioned, it is used in herbicides and fungicides, but it is also used in insecticides, biocides, and miticides. 

MMA in particular is used as a soil fumigant and sterilant, and DMA is used for herbicides and fungicides for crops like apples, tobacco, vegetables, grains, bulbs, tubers, and corn.TMA is a particularly strong insecticide when it reacts with sulfur dioxide.

Gas, Oil, and Fuel Additives

Methylamine isn’t just for the farm though. It’s used to make engines go fast and improve overall engine performance including:

  • Gas and motor oil additives
  • Aviation fuel additives as a freezing point depressant and antiknock compound
  • Coolants for certain high-speed engines

Moreover, while methylamines are used for gas and motor oil, they are also used to remove acidity, sulfur compounds, olefins, and aromatic hydrocarbons in natural gas and raw oil.

Personal Care Items and Pharmaceuticals

Methylamines are used in cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, shaving creams, and lotions, but these aren’t the only products you can find in a drugstore that are made with this powerful chemical compound. MMA and DMA are also found in pharmaceuticals like:

  • Analgesics, sedatives, muscle relaxers, and antispasmodics
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Local anesthetics
  • Ointment for skin disorders
  • Intermediates for tranquilizing agents

Wastewater Treatment

DMA in particular is used for wastewater treatments for water in various states, including industrial and municipal raw wastewater, as well as potable water. The agents in DMA make it ideal to amplify the separation of solids and liquids during sedimentation, filtration, and flotation processes. 

Other Uses

There are truly countless uses for methylamines. Beyond the aforementioned uses, it is also used:

  • In the manufacture of anionic and cationic exchange resins
  • In the manufacture of paper products
  • As an accelerator for epoxy resins, used in making laminates for electronics
  • To make circuit boards
  • As a supplement for feed for turkeys, chickens, and swine

Get Methylamine from a Safe, Dependable Source

At Airgas Specialty Products, our goal is to provide our clients with the 24-hour, 7-day-a-week supply of the chemical compounds they need to do what they do best. We value safety and efficiency, which means we can help you train your team, maintain your facilities, and even set up your storage system to keep your industrial methylamine safeguarded and ready for use exactly when you need it. 

To discover how we’ll become a valued part of your ongoing operations, connect with our team today!