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Information @ a Glance


  • Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) is a colorless liquid with a sharp, sweet odor. Methyl ethyl ketone (also known as 2-butanone) is a man-made chemical that is also found in nature.

  • Methyl ethyl ketone is a flammable liquid. It is partially soluble in water, and soluble in most other organic solvents. It will float on water while it rapidly dissolves in it.

  • In nature, MEK is made by some trees. It is also found in small amounts in some fruits and vegetables. Manmade MEK is released into the air from car and truck exhausts.

Process and Technology

  • The main commercial route to MEK is the dehydrogenation of secondary butanol.

  • MEK can also be made as a by-product in butane-based acetic acid manufacture.

  • Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) worldwide is, primarily, produced with n butene/2-butene as the raw material via sec butyl Alcohol (SBA) route as 90-95% of SBA produced is utilized for manufacture of MEK.

  • A modern MEK manufacturing unit shall comprise of the following key sections :- Hydration of n-butenes to produce Sec Butyl Alcohol., Catalytic Dehydrogenation of SBA to produce Methyl Ethyl Ketone.

  • A newer technology involves the direct oxidation of n-butene in solution using palladium and cupric chlorides as catalysts.


  • Methyl ethyl ketone is used as a solvent for lacquers, adhesives; for cleaning materials to be electroplated; for degreasing; in rubber and rubber cement, printing inks, paints, wood stains, varnishes and paint removers and in cleaning solutions; as a catalyst; and as a carrier.

  • MEK is used in shoe factories, printing plants and plastics factories. It is also used in making sporting goods.

  • Other applications include solvent extraction in several industrial sector , the production of synthetic leather and transparent paper and use as a degreasing agent.

  • MEK is favored for applications in coatings that utilize highly polar resins such as epoxies, urethanes, cellulosics and vinyls.

  • MEK functions as a dewaxing agent during the refining of lubricating oils.


  • The use of MEK in adhesives, chemical intermediates and printing inks represents strongest segments of growth  all growing at rates between 2 and 3 percent annually.

  • MEK consumption to grow at an average rate of 3.5%/year during the 2005 2010 period to reach 1.3m tonnes in 2010.

  • The strongest growth market for MEK is in adhesives, chemical intermediates and printing inks.

  • It is projected that MEK demand will grow at an average rate of 6-7%/year to reach about 300,000-320,000 tonnes/year

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