The major outlet for ethyl acetate (EAC) is coatings which account for 60% of demand. Process solvents, including pharmaceuticals and organic synthesis, account for 15% while printing inks are also estimated at 15%. Miscellaneous uses, including adhesives and cosmetics, account for a further 10% of demand.
The main method to manufacture EAC involves the esterification of ethanol with acetic acid in the presence of a catalyst, although some is produced by the catalytic condensation of acetaldehyde with alkoxides. EAC is an active solvent that is available in three grades: 85-88%, 99% and 99.5% (urethane grade). The most popular grade, 99%, is mainly used in industrial lacquers and enamels, for example, in the production of photographic film, adhesives and nail varnishes. It is also used as an extraction solvent in the production of pharmaceuticals and food and as a carrier solvent for herbicides. EA can be used to reduce pollution associated with wood pulping, while also improving economic viability.
EAC is a colourless, mobile, volatile liquid that is highly flammable and can form explosive mixtures with air. In a fire, flashback can occur, as its vapours are heavier than air. EA is moderately toxic by inhalation and vapours can irritate the eyes and respiratory tract.
To find out more Ethyl Acetate Methodology July 2013