The main application for methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) is as a low-boiling solvent for nitrocellulose, acrylic and vinyl surface coatings. Over half of global MEK demand is derived from the paints and coatings industry. MEK can also be used in rubber-based industrial cements and printing inks.
Methyl ethyl ketone is a mature product with most of its applications only growing slowly. Regionally, the European and US markets are flat while future growth will be concentrated in Asia. The Chinese market is the main driver and demand here will rise by 6-7%/year.
The main commercial route to methyl ethyl ketone is the dehydrogenation of secondary butanol. A newer technology involves the direct oxidation of n-butene in solution using palladium and cupric chlorides as catalysts.
Methyl ethyl ketone is a colourless, mobile, flammable liquid with an acetone like odour. MEK is irritating to the eyes and throat leading to coughing, headaches and nausea.
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The main application for methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) is as a low-boiling solvent for nitrocellulose, acrylic and vinyl surface coatings. Over half of global MEK demand is derived from the paints and coatings industry. Its advantage is that low viscosity solutions can be obtained, having a high solids content, without affecting the film properties. These lacquers are used in the automotive, electrical goods and furniture industries.
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The main commercial route to MEK is the dehydrogenation of secondary butanol. Some companies employ sulphuric acid hydration of n-butene to make the secondary butanol.
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