What is Acrylic Acid?
Acrylic acid (also known as 2-proenoic acid, vinyl formic acid, and propene acid) is a versatile, clear, colourless, corrosive, and flammable liquid that has a pungent odour. It has the formula C3H4O2 and is miscible with water, alcohol, ether, benzene, chloroform, and acetone. Acrylic acid is valuable as it is a chemical intermediate widely used in the production of many industrial and consumer products.
Technical properties of acrylic acid:
Cas Number: 79-10-7
Chemical Formula: C3H4O2
Synonyms: Acroleic acid, propenoic acid and prop-2-enoic acid
Molecular Mass: 72.06 g/mol
Flashpoint (open cup): 122 °F / 50 °C
Autoignition temperature: 820 °F / 438 °C
Boiling Point: 286 °F / 141.1 °C
Melting Point: 55 °F / 12.8 °C
Density: 1.051 g/mL
Acylic Acid Production
Acrylic acid manufacturers produce this chemical by the vapour-phase oxidation of propylene. This process involves two reactors, with the first reactor converting the propylene to acrolein and the second converting the acrolein to acrylic acid.
This method is quite expensive due to use of propylene however there are some cheaper options that may also be possible. Another commercial manufacturing process involves the sequential oxidative dehydrogenation of selective oxidation of propane to acrylic acid using a two-catalyst bed in a reactor.
Historically, acrylic acid has been produced through the carbonylation of acetylene involving nickel carbonyl, carbon monoxide and acetylene. However, this process was more expensive due to the higher price of acetylene in comparison to propylene.
Storage and distribution
Acrylic acid can cause severe irritation to the skin if handled directly with swelling and chemical burns possible. If the acid enters the eyes, then severe irritation can occur with the potential for long-term eye damage. Finally, inhaling acrylic acid can be severely irritating to the respiratory tract including the nose, throat, and lungs.
Therefore, when acrylic acid is handled, a protective suit along with suitable gloves should be worn to ensure skin contact is avoided. Well fitted safety goggles should be always worn when the chemical is being handled to avoid eye contact. Along with a respirator to avoid the inhalation of vapours from the acid if the environment lacks sufficient ventilation.
The acid is sensitive to heat and sunlight and should be stored in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated chemical store that is free from all sources of ignition. It is supplied with inhibitors that prevent dangerous polymerisation and an explosion as it can become quite unstable.
It has a flashpoint of 50oC (closed cup) and is therefore flammable and it has a specific gravity of 1.05. For transportation purposes, it’s classified as pack group II, hazard class 8 and should it be labelled as corrosive, flammable, and dangerous to the environment.
What is Acrylic Acid used for?
Acrylic acid is an important industrial chemical as it is a chemical intermediate that is employed in the production processes of many common industrial and consumer products. There are two main uses for acrylic acid.
The first use of acrylic acid is as a chemical intermediate in the production of acrylic esters and resins which include ethyl acrylate, butyl acrylate, methyl acrylate, and 2-ethylhexyl acrylate. They are then polymerised and become ingredients in paint formulations, coatings, textiles (woven and non-woven), adhesives, polishes, and plastics. Methyl acrylate is also used in the manufacturing of vitamin B1. The resins can be made into such things as moulding powders for signs, construction units, and decorative emblems.
The second major use for acrylic acid is as a building block in the production of polyacrylic acid polymers. These polymers are cross-linked polyacrylates and are super absorbent with the ability to absorb and retain more than one hundred times their own weight. They are used to make nappies, feminine hygiene products and adult incontinence pads. Acrylic acid is also utilised in the production of detergent polymers and in the production of flocculants which are employed in wastewater treatment plants.
Demand for the acid has seen continued growth with increased interest in laundry products after the pandemic as well as for architectural coatings in the Asia-Pacific region.
Solventis as your Acrylic Acid Supplier
Solventis is a leading bulk supplier and distributor of acrylic acid in the UK, Europe and globally. As a company with offices in the UK and Belgium, we are proud to be able to offer a personal and efficient service, together with highly competitive prices.
As a result of our state-of-the-art facility in Antwerp, Belgium, we can guarantee the quality, efficiency, safety, and environmental awareness for our whole range of products that is second to none. Please contact us for more information on our acrylic acid or any acrylate from our range on our enquiry form  or by phone on +44 (0)1483 203224.