Acetic acid

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Application of Acetic Acid

  • Acetic acid is a chemical reagent for the production of 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.

Vinyl acetate monomer

  • The primary use of acetic acid is the production of vinyl acetate monomer (VAM). In 2008, this application was estimated to consume a third of the world's production of acetic acid.[6]The reaction consists of ethylene and acetic acid with oxygen over a palladium catalyst, conducted in the gas phase.
2 H3C−COOH + 2 C2H4 + O2 → 2 H3C−CO−O−CH=CH2 + 2 H2O

Ester production

H3C−COOH + HO−R → H3C−CO−O−R + H2O, (R = a general alkyl group)
  • Most acetate esters, however, are produced from acetaldehyde using the Tishchenko reaction. In addition, ether acetates are used as solvents for nitrocelluloseacrylic lacquersvarnish removers, and wood stains. First, glycol monoethers are produced from ethylene oxide or propylene oxide with alcohol, which are then esterified with acetic acid. The three major products are ethylene glycol monoethyl ether acetate (EEA), ethylene glycol monobutyl ether acetate (EBA), and propylene glycol monomethyl ether acetate (PMA, more commonly known as PGMEA in semiconductor manufacturing processes, where it is used as a resist solvent). This application consumes about 15% to 20% of worldwide acetic acid. Ether acetates, for example EEA, have been shown to be harmful to human reproduction.

Acetic anhydride

  • The product of the condensation 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. The main process involves dehydration of acetic acid to give ketene at 700–750 °C. Ketene is thereafter reacted with acetic acid to obtain the anhydride:
CH3CO2H → CH2=C=O + H2O
CH3CO2H + CH2=C=O → (CH3CO)2O

Use as solvent

Medical use

  • Acetic acid is used as part of cervical cancer screening in many areas in the developing world. Acetic acid is applied to the cervix and if an area of white appears after about a minute the test is positive.
  • It is an effective antiseptic when used as a 1% solution, with broad spectrum of activity against streptococci, staphylococci, pseudomonas, enterococci and others. It may be an option for skin infections caused by pseudomonas resistant to typical antibiotics.
  • While diluted acetic acid is used in iontophoresis, no high quality evidence supports this treatment in rotator cuff disease.
  • As a treatment for otitis externa, it is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, the most important medications needed in a basic health system.

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