Ethyl acetate (systematically, ethyl ethanoate, commonly abbreviated EtOAc or EA) is the organic compound with the formula CH3COOCH2CH3. This colorless liquid has a characteristic sweet smell (similar to pear drops) and is used in glues, nail polish removers, and cigarettes (see list of additives in cigarettes). Ethyl acetate is the ester of ethanol and acetic acid; it is manufactured on a large scale for use as a solvent. The combined annual production in 1985 of Japan, North America, and Europe was about 400,000 tons. In 2004, an estimated 1.3M tons were produced worldwide. Production
Ethyl acetate is synthesized in industry mainly via the classic Fischer esterification reaction of ethanol and acetic acid. This mixture converts to the ester in about 65% yield at room temperature: The reaction can be accelerated by acid catalysis and the equilibrium can be shifted to the right by removal of water. It is also prepared in industry using the Tishchenko reaction, by combining two equivalents of acetaldehyde in the presence of an alkoxide catalyst: By dehydrogenation of ethanol
A specialized industrial route entails the catalytic dehydrogenation of ethanol. This method is less cost effective than the esterification but is applied with surplus ethanol in a chemical plant. Typically, dehydrogenation is conducted with copper at an elevated temperature but below 250 °C. The copper may have its surface area increased by depositing it on zinc, promoting the growth of snowflake, fractal like structures (dendrites). Surface area can be again increased by deposition onto a zeolite, typically ZSM-5. Traces of rare earth and alkali metals are beneficial to the process. Byproducts of the dehydrogenation include diethyl ether, which is thought to arise primarily due to aluminum sites in the catalyst, acetaldehyde and its aldol products, higher esters, and ketones. Separations of the byproducts are complicated by the fact that ethanol forms an azeotrope with water, as does...
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