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acetic acid

Product name acetic acid
GOST no data
CAS 64-19-7

Acetic acid, also known as ethanoic acid, is an organic chemical compound with sour taste and pungent smell. Glacial acetic acid is a trivial name for water-free acetic acid. Liquid acetic acid is a hydrophilic (polar) protic solvent, similar to ethanol and water. With a moderate dielectric constant of 6.2, it can dissolve not only polar compounds such as inorganic salts and sugars, but also non-polar compounds such as oils and elements such as sulfur and iodine. It readily mixes with many other polar and non-polar solvents such as water, chloroform, and hexane. This dissolving property and miscibility of acetic acid makes it a widely used industrial chemical.


  • Most virgin acetic acid is produced by methanol carbonylation in presence of rhodium complex catalysts at 185 °C and under pressure 2.8 MPa. (Monsanto process). In the late 1990s, the chemicals company BP Chemicals commercialised the Cativa catalyst, which is promoted by ruthenium. This iridium-catalysed process is greener and more efficient and has largely supplanted the Monsanto process, often in the same production plants.
  • Acetaldehyde oxidation. Prior to the commercialisation of the Monsanto process, most acetic acid was produced by oxidation of acetaldehyde. This remains the second most important manufacturing method, although it is uncompetitive with methanol carbonylation. The acetaldehyde may be produced via oxidation of butane or light naphtha, or by hydration of ethylene. Using modern catalysts, this reaction can have an acetic acid yield greater than 95%. The major side products are ethyl acetate, formic acid, and formaldehyde, all of which have lower boiling points than acetic acid and are readily separated by distillation.
  • Ethylene oxidation. Acetaldehyde may be prepared from ethylene via the Wacker process, and then oxidised as above. The process is catalysed by a palladium metal catalyst supported on a heteropoly acid such as tungstosilicic acid. It is thought to be competitive with methanol carbonylation for smaller plants.
  • For most of human history, acetic acid, in the form of vinegar, has been made by bacteria of the genus Acetobacter. Given sufficient oxygen, these bacteria can produce vinegar from a variety of alcoholic foodstuffs. Commonly used feeds include apple cider, wine, and fermented grain, malt, rice, or potato mashes. Most vinegar today is made in submerged tank culture. In this method, alcohol is fermented to vinegar in a continuously stirred tank, and oxygen is supplied by bubbling air through the solution. Using this method, vinegar of 15% acetic acid can be prepared in only 23 days.


    Acetic acid is a chemical reagent for the production of many chemical compounds. The largest single use of acetic acid is in the production of vinyl acetate monomer, closely followed by acetic anhydride and ester production. The volume of acetic acid used in vinegar is comparatively small.

  • The major use of acetic acid is for the production of vinyl acetate monomer (VAM). This application consumes approximately 40% to 45% of the world\'s production of acetic acid. The reaction is of ethylene and acetic acid with oxygen over a palladium catalyst. Vinyl acetate can be polymerised to polyvinyl acetate or to other polymers, which are applied in paints and adhesives.
  • The condensation product of two molecules of acetic acid is acetic anhydride. The worldwide production of acetic anhydride is a major application, and uses approximately 25% to 30% of the global production of acetic acid. Acetic anhydride may be produced directly by methanol carbonylation bypassing the acid, and Cativa plants can be adapted for anhydride production.
  • Ester production. The major esters of acetic acid are commonly used solvents for inks, paints and coatings. The esters include ethyl acetate, n-butyl acetate, isobutyl acetate, and propyl acetate. They are typically produced by catalysed reaction from acetic acid and the corresponding alcohol.
  • Vinegar. In the form of vinegar, acetic acid solutions are used directly as a condiment, and also in the pickling of vegetables and other foodstuffs.
  • Glacial acetic acid is an excellent polar protic solvent. Pure molten acetic acid is used as a solvent in the production of terephthalic acid (TPA), the raw material for polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

  • Manufacturer(s) OJSC Navoiyazot
    JSC Severodonetsk Azot Association
    Chemical structure of acetic acid

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