Published March 1973
This report supplements the original Process Economics Program report on acetic acid issued in March 1968 (Report No. 37) and is expanded to include the technology and costs of three processes for the manufacture of acetic anhydride. The original report evaluated five synthetic processes for the production of acetic acid, These included: oxidation of acetaldehyde with air, oxidation of naptha, oxidation of n-butane, two-step (esterification and oxicracking) oxidation of n-butylenes, and high pressure carbonylation of methanol with carbon monoxide. The current report updates the technology and costs of these five processes and evaluates three more processes: oxidation of acetaldehyde with oxygen, direct oxidation of n-butylenes, and low pressure carbonylation of methanol with carbon monoxide. The oxygen oxidation of acetaldehyde is an old process, but it is believed that many acetic acid producers are still using it. The direct oxidation of n-butylenes, developed mainly by Chemische Werke Huls, and the low pressure carbonylation of methanol process, developed by Monsanto, were announced after the original report was issued. How- ever, most of the process details for the Monsanto process, including reaction data, actual catalyst system, and materials of construction, have not yet been published. Therefore evaluation of this process is very speculative in this report.
Three processes for the production of acetic anhydride are evaluated in detail. The first process uses ketene produced from acetic acid, and the second process uses ketene produced from acetone; the third process is the direct oxidation of acetaldehyde. All these processes have been
used commercially for many years.
A review of other acetic acid and acetic anhydride processes described in the patent literature is also presented, together with recent information on separation and purification of acetic acid.
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