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Information @ a Glance

General

  • Acrylic is a useful, clear plastic that resembles glass, but has properties that make it superior to glass in many ways. Common brands of high-grade acrylic include Polycast, Lucite and Plexiglass.

  • Acrylics including (meth)acrylic acids, acrylic esters, and acrylic compounds containing reactive halogens, nitrile and amide groups are versatile monomers forming any class of hard, soft, resilient and transparent synthetic plastics or resins and viscous oils by varying the starting materials and the polymerization processes.

  • There are two basic types of acrylic: extruded and cell cast.

  • Extruded or "continuous cast" acrylic is made by a less expensive process, is softer, can scratch easier and may contain impurities.

  • Cell cast acrylic is a higher quality acrylic and U.S. domestic cell cast is a good choice for applications that require the best.

Process

  • Acrylic acid is produced by the catalytic partial oxidation of propylene in the presence of steam at elevated temperature and ambient pressure.

  • Acrylic acid (AA) is used as a precursor for a wide variety of chemicals in the polymers and textile industries. There are several chemical pathways to produce AA, but the most common one is via the partial oxidation of propylene.

  • The usual mechanism for producing AA utilizes a two step process in which propylene is first oxidized to acrolein and then further oxidized to AA. Each reaction step usually takes place over a separate catalyst and at different operating conditions.

Applications

  • Acrylic acid has been used for more than 30 years as an essential building block in the production of industrial and consumer products.

  • The acrylic acid manufactured in the United States is used to produce acrylic esters methyl acrylate, butyl acrylate, ethyl acrylate, and 2-ethylhexyl acrylate which are key ingredients in paints, coatings, textiles, adhesives, plastics, and many other applications.

  • It is used to produce polyacrylic acid, or crosslinked polyacrylic acid compounds, which have been successfully used in the manufacture of superabsorbents used in personal hygiene products, detergents, and waste water treatment chemicals.

Market

  • Most acrylic acid is consumed in the form of a polymer. Previously, the dominant share of acrylic acid was converted to esters. Today, however, the growth in demand for superabsorbents (used in diapers and hygienic products) has increased consumption for acrylic acid homopolymers.

  • Long term global growth for acrylic acid is predicted to be 3%/year in the 2005-2011 period, according to an upcoming UK-based consultant.

  • In the US, demand is expected to grow at 4%/year. The largest contributor to this growth is polyacrylic acid which is forecast to grow at 5%/year to 2008. The largest volume acrylate ester, n-butyl acrylate, is expected to grow at 2.5%/year.

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