What is Methyl Acrylate?

Methyl Acrylate (also known as acrylic acid methyl ester, and methyl 2-propenoate) is an ester of acrylic acid and has the formula C4H6O2. It is a colourless, transparent liquid which has an unpleasant odour.  It is found in nature as the volatile component of pineapple.  It has slight solubility in water but is completely soluble in alcohols, esters, and many other organic solvents.

Methyl Acrylate Chemical Structure

How is it produced?

Methyl acrylate is made from technical grade acrylic acid.  This acrylic acid is reacted with methanol, in a reactor bed at elevated temperatures, to produce methyl acrylate with water produced as a by-product.

How is it stored and distributed?

Storage tanks and pipes for Methyl acrylate should be made of stainless steel or aluminium and the product is often distributed in steel tanks or glass bottles.

Methyl acrylate must be stored under air to prevent polymerisation but is stable under recommended storage conditions.  It is also light sensitive so must be protected from direct sunlight, and must also be stored in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area that is free from the risk of ignition.  It is classified as Hazard class 3.2 and pack group II and should be labelled as Harmful and Highly Flammable as it has a flash point of -3oC (closed cup).  It has a specific gravity of 0.954 at 20oC.

What is Methyl Acrylate used for?

Methyl acrylate is a chemical that can be employed across a range of industries as it reacts readily with a wide variety of organic and inorganic compounds.  It is therefore a very useful chemical intermediate in a variety of production processes.

One of the major areas that Methyl acrylate is employed in is the production of surface coatings These surface and water-based coatings are found in a range of industries and include the paint industry where Methyl acrylate can be a component of paints and lacquers. This is because methyl acrylate provides good water resistance, low temperature flexibility, and sunlight resistance to products, for example, latex paint formulations.

The textile industry and the leather industry also employ methyl acrylate as a component of coatings.  The leather industry uses it to provide different finishes e.g. suede and nubuck, to its products while the textile industry employs methyl acrylate in the manufacturing and finishing of woven and non-woven textiles.  The paper industry also uses methyl acrylate in paper coatings, and in the manufacture of paper itself.

Methyl acrylate is also employed in the manufacture of consumer, technical, and construction adhesives.  It is also used employed in the manufacture of acrylic and modacyrlic fibres and in the production of plastic film.

Methyl acrylate is also useful for water treatment as it is used to produce DMAEA (dimethylaminoethylacrylate) which is used as a flocculant in water treatment processes.

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