The main application for methyl-ethyl ketone (MEK) is as a low-boiling solvent for nitrocellulose, acrylic and vinyl surface coatings. About 63% 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. The lacquers are used in the automotive, electrical goods and furniture industries.
MEK can also be used in rubber-based industrial cements and printing inks. Its fast evaporation rate makes it popular for rubber-based industrial cements, low-temperature bonding agents and as an azeotropic separation solvent for printing inks. It is also a component of the solvent system used in producing magnetic tape. Demand for adhesives and video tape applications is increasing.
In addition, MEK is a solvent required for the polymerisation processing of polystyrene, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, and styrene-butadiene-rubber while a derivative, methyl ethyl ketone peroxide, is used as a hardening agent in reinforced polyester fibre glass manufacture.
MEK irritates the eyes and throat leading to coughing, headaches and nausea. It is highly flammable.
To find out more Methyl-Ethyl Ketone Methodology September 2013