Acetone production

Knowledge about the production of acetone requires a lot of chemical expertise. Acetone is the widely known name for dimethyl ketone or propanone, ie a ketone. It is even the simplest of all ketones. Various processes can be used for the production of acetone.

Basic information about acetone

Acetone was discovered as early as 1605. But even in nature, the organic solvent occurs. This is what happens when fermenting fruits, even the human body can produce acetone under certain conditions. Even if it can be metabolized, that does not mean that acetone is not toxic. However, acetone is not carcinogenic as it is often believed.

Uses for acetone

As a ketone and organic solvent, it is versatile:

  • for dissolving and removing resins
  • for loosening and removing oils and greases
  • as Abbeize (paints, paints, resinous products)
  • as a nail polish remover
  • for the production of PMMA (polymethylene methacrylate or colloquially acrylic glass)
  • for various other syntheses in the chemical industry
  • as an adhesive for various plastics

Acetone is the simplest ketone

Ketones can be considered as the oxidation product of secondary alcohols. Acetone is the simplest ketone, benzophenone the simplest aromatic ketone. There is no concrete application in which consumers would also use ketones. But it is interesting in chemistry mainly because of its properties. Among other things, ketones are water-soluble. They are part of acetone.

Acetone in nature: raspberry acetone

Incidentally, the smell of raspberries is also caused by ketones, the so-called raspberry ketones. Also needed are ketones for cyclohexanone, a clear liquid similar to acetone. It is needed especially for the production of Perlon (polyamide). It was invented in the 1930s and has been part of the Perlon stockings since the 1940s.

Main uses

Acetone is very good for removing oils and fats, which is why boards are cleaned before soldering. But also paints and resins can be removed, which is why the use as a nail polish remover is also obvious. In addition to its use as a solvent and cleaning agent, acetone is known above all for its production of PMMA (acrylic glass or colloquially Plexiglas).

The manufacturing processes of acetone over time

Various processes can be used in the production of acetone. Until the middle of the 20th century, acetone-butanol fermentation was the most important production process for acetone.

For this an anaerobic bacterium (Clostridium acetobutylicum) was used. Today acetone is mainly obtained via phenol synthesis (the cumene hydroperoxide process). In 1606 it was discovered by Andreas Libavius ​​by the heating of lead II acetate.

The modern acetone production

In today's conventional cumene hydroperoxide process, the so-called Friedel-Crafts alkylation converts propene and benzene acid to cumene (isopropylbenzene). In a radical reaction with oxygen then hydroperoxide is formed, which decomposes in an acidic workup to acetone and phenol. But also by the dehydration of isopropanol acetone can be recovered.

Tips & Tricks

About the so-called calcareous distillation acetone can also be prepared. During this process, calcium acetate is heated. It then decomposes upon reaching a certain temperature to calcium oxide and acetone.

Video Board: Production of acetone-butanol from the corn waste.