Acetic acid is a chemical reagent for the production of chemical compounds. The largest single use of acetic acid is in the production of vinyl acetate monomer, closely followed by acetic anhydride and ester production. The volume of acetic acid used in vinegar is comparatively small.Vinyl acetate monomer
The primary use of acetic acid is the production of vinyl acetate monomer (VAM). In 2008, this application was estimated to consume a third of the world's production of acetic acid. The reaction consists of ethylene and acetic acid with oxygen over a palladium catalyst, conducted in the gas phase.2 H3C−COOH + 2 C2H4 + O2 → 2 H3C−CO−O−CH=CH2 + 2 H2O
Vinyl acetate can be polymerised to polyvinyl acetate or other polymers, which are components in paints and adhesives.Ester production
The major esters of acetic acid are commonly used as solvents for inks, paints and coatings. The esters include ethyl acetate, n-butyl acetate, isobutyl acetate, and propyl acetate. They are typically produced by catalyzed reaction from acetic acid and the corresponding alcohol:H3C−COOH + HO−R → H3C−CO−O−R + H2O, (R = a general alkyl group)
Most acetate esters, however, are produced from acetaldehyde using the Tishchenko reaction. In addition, ether acetates are used as solvents for nitrocellulose, acrylic lacquers, varnish removers, and wood stains. First, glycol monoethers are produced from ethylene oxide or propylene oxide with alcohol, which are then esterified with acetic acid. The three major products are ethylene glycol monoethyl ether acetate (EEA), ethylene glycol monobutyl ether acetate (EBA), and propylene glycol monomethyl ether acetate (PMA, more commonly known as PGMEA in semiconductor manufacturing processes, where it is used as a resist solvent). This application consumes about 15% to 20% of worldwide acetic acid. Ether acetates, for example EEA, have been shown to be harmful to human reproduction.