Glycerol is odourless, colorless, viscous in nature, and exists as a sweet tasting liquid. It can be derived naturally as well as from petrochemical feedstock. Glycerol has a wide variety of applications, and is one of the most valuable and versatile chemical substances in nature. It can be used as an emollient, solvent, sweetening agent, in pharmaceutical formulations, cosmetics, foodstuffs and toiletries. It is very stable and can be easily stored under normal temperature; also it is non-irritating and has no adverse impact to the environment.
Glycerol has been used as:
- a supplement during cell culture of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium avium.
- a fuel during designing enzymatic biofuel cell.
- a liquid composite matrix with 4-HCCA and 3-aminoquinoline for analysis of neutral and acidic glycans.
- a matrix for fast atom bombardment MS.
- may be employed as liquid matrix for the quantification studies by MALDI (Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry) analysis.
Glycerol is used both in sample preparation and gel formation for polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Glycerol (5-10%) increases the density of a sample so that the sample will layer at the bottom of a gel′s sample well. Glycerol is also used to aid in casting gradient gels and as a protein stabilizer and storage buffer component.
Glycerol is hygroscopic in nature and is soluble in water owing to its three hydrophilic alcoholic hydroxyl groups. It can form both inter- and intramolecular hydrogen bonds, making it a very flexible molecule. The physiologic effect of glycerine is due to cell-mediated immunity, increased IgG production and increased histamine release.