- Acetic acid,
also known as ethanoic acid, is an organic chemical compound best
recognized for giving vinegar its sour taste and pungent smell.
- Acetic acid is
corrosive, and its vapour causes an irritation to the eyes, dry and
burning nose, sore throat and congestion to the lungs, although it
is a weak acid based on its ability to dissociate in aqueous
- Acetic acid
can be produced synthetically or from natural sources. Synthetic
production includes methanol carbonylation, acetaldehyde oxidation,
butane/naphtha oxidation and coal based synthesis gas. It is also
produced as a by-product of many reactions from which it is then
recovered and recycled.
- The oxidation
of acetaldehyde method was used until recently at the Orica Rhodes
NSW site and consists of the direct oxidation of ethylene to
acetaldehyde via the Wacker process, followed by the oxidation of
acetaldeyde in the presence of manganese acetate, forming acetic
- The largest
consumption of acetic acid is as a raw material to produce vinyl
acetate by reaction with ethylene and oxygen or with acetylene in
the presence of palladium catalyst. Vinyl acetate is polymerized to
polyvinyl acetate by itself and to other copolymers with other
monomers. Acetate polymers are important resins used in paints,
adhesives, plastics and textile finishes.
- Acetic acid is
used as an acidulant in a wide range of applications from
eletroplating to textiles finishing operation. It is used in the
manufacture of materials used in the pharmaceuticals, foods,
cosmetics and colorant chemical fields including sorbic acid,
dyestuffs and pigments, vitamins, antibiotics, rubber chemicals and
flavor & fragrance.
- The fastest
growing region is Asia, in particular China where demand is forecast
to increase at 8 to 10 percent per year. As a result, most of the
new capacity is targeted for Asia with a number of projects and
expansions planned in China and Taiwan.
- During the
past 5 years, approximately 1.2 million metric tons of new demand
for acetic acid has developed globally.
- Although only
a small segment presently, it is growing at 4.5 percent per year
because of demand for terephthalic acid in polyethylene
terephthalate (PET) resins. The driver here is PET bottles for the
carbonated drinks market. Vinyl acetate, the largest market for
acetic acid is growing at roughly 3 percent per year.
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