Propanone (acetone) is one of the most important solvents as many organic compounds dissolve readily in it but it is also miscible with water. It is also a key intermediate in the manufacture of some polymers.
Uses of propanone (acetone)
The plastics industry uses about half the propanone produced.
It is converted into 4-methylpentan-2-one (MIBK) (see below) which is a very useful solvent for paints.
Figure 1 Uses of propanone.
The figures for the different proportions of propanone used to make other materials given in Figure 1 are for the World but they vary from country to country. For example, in the US the proportion of propanone used to make methyl 2-methylpropenoate rises to 50%, whereas that for solvents is only 20%. The proportion used to make bisphenol A is similar.
Annual production of propanone (acetone)
Manufacture of propanone (acetone)
There are two ways of manufacturing propanone, one via cumene and one via propan-2-ol (isopropanol). Both of these intermediates are produced from propene. By far the most important route is the cumene process.
The second route is by dehydrogenation of propan-2-ol. The alcohol vapour is passed over zinc oxide at ca 600 K or copper at ca 750 K, which act as catalysts:
To make bisphenol A, the two products from cumene oxidation are reacted together:
In the past, hydrogen chloride was used as the acid catalyst, and some inevitably escaped into the atmosphere. Now a solid cation exchange resin is used which is more environmentally friendly.
MIBK is produced from propanone:
Date last amended: 18th September 2013