Methyl acetate (CH3COOCH3), also known as acetic acid methyl ester or methyl ethanoate, belongs to the ester group. It is a colourless and flammable liquid with a characteristic glue, nail polish remover odour. At room temperature, methyl acetate has a solubility of 25% in water. Its solubility increases as temperature rise. Its fast-evaporating property renders methyl acetate useful in a wide range of applications.
There are various manufacturing methods for methyl acetate; Fischer esterification, a reaction of acid anhydrides with alcohols, a reaction of acid anhydrides with alcohols or trans-esterification. Among those methods, reactive distillation is most common and popular route. Reactive distillation is a continuous process where the separation and reaction are both operated in the distillation column. The reaction happens in the vessel and separation takes place in the column. There are several considerations including feasibility analysis, conceptual design, equipment selection and design, operability and control studies.
Methyl acetate is used as a solvent in the manufacturing process of fast-drying paints for wood finishing, automobile, industrial application, marine application, etc. due to its fast evaporating property. It is also used as a solvent in surface cleaner because it dries fast and is hydrophobic in nature.
Methyl acetate is used in the manufacturing of fast sticking adhesives, which is manufactured by mixing rubber and resin in methyl acetate.
Methyl acetate is used to manufacture cosmetics and personal care products like nail polish, nail polish remover, perfumes etc.