Esters

Ethyl Acetate

Ethyl Acetate is an organic ester compound with a molecular formula of C4H8O2.  It is commonly used as a solvent for cleaning, paint removal and coatings.  It is a colourless liquid with a fruity characteristic odour that is commonly recognised in glues and nail polish remover.  This product is highly flammable with a flash point of -4° C and a flammability rating of 3.  It is highly miscible with all common organic solvents (alcohols, ketones, glycols, esters) but only slightly miscibility in water.

Production

Ethyl acetate is mainly manufactured via the esterification of ethanol and acetic acid in the presence of a strong acid.  In this process, a small amount of sulphuric acid is preheated and fed to an esterifing column to be refluxed.  The mixture then goes though to a second refluxing column, to remove around 85% ethyl acetate.  Water is mixed in, which causes a separation into two layers and the residue is fed into another refluxing column to remove any final impurities to manufacture 95% ethyl acetate.

Storage and distribution

A chemical stockist would have a bulk petrochemical storage facility to regulate this product.  Storage is normally in a cool, dry and well ventilated facility away from oxidising agents.  Ethyl acetate should be kept out of direct sunlight, heat and open flames.  Solvents such as ethyl acetate should be stored in drummed containers such as isotanks made of stainless steel, aluminium or carbon steel.

A bulk solvent exporter would normally distribute this solvent in bulk vessels or tank trucks.  For transportation purposes, ethyl acetate is classed as a flammable liquid with a fire hazard rating of 2.  A full bulk chemical distributor would export the solvent throughout regions such as the UK, Europe, Africa and America.  This product is a packing group 2.

Uses

Ethyl acetate is most commonly used as a solvent (due to its dilution properties).  As a high purity solvent, it is used in cleaning electric circuit boards and as a nail polish remover.  At a lower purity, it can be used as in printing, pharmaceuticals, perfumes, food, decaffeination of tea/coffee and a carrier solvent for herbicides.  Ethyl acetate is also used in coating formulations for wood furniture, agricultural, construction equipment, mining equipment and marine uses.  It is also naturally produced in wine during the fermentation process.  The main user end markets of these product are the electronics, cosmetic, printing, food and coatings industries.