Chemical Properties and Common Uses of Acetone

Common Industrial Uses of Acetone

Acetone is a versatile chemical that finds application in various industrial processes. One of its most common uses is as a solvent in the production of plastics, fibers, and pharmaceuticals. It is also used as a cleaning agent in the electronics industry to remove flux residues from circuit boards. Additionally, acetone is a vital component in the manufacture of various chemicals such as methyl methacrylate and bisphenol-A.

  • As a solvent in the production of plastics, fibers, and pharmaceuticals
  • As a cleaning agent in the electronics industry
  • In the manufacture of various chemicals such as methyl methacrylate and bisphenol-A

Production of Acetone

Acetone is produced through the dehydrogenation of isopropyl alcohol or the oxidation of cumene. The cumene process is the most common method of production, accounting for over 90% of the world’s acetone production. In this process, cumene is oxidized with air in the presence of a catalyst to produce cumene hydroperoxide, which is then cleaved to produce phenol and acetone. The phenol is then used in the production of plastics, resins, and adhesives.

  • Dehydrogenation of isopropyl alcohol
  • Oxidation of cumene
  • Cumene process (most common method)

Discovery and Commercial Availability of Acetone

Acetone was first discovered in 1832 by the French chemist Jean-Baptiste Dumas, who produced it by heating acetate of lime. However, it was not until the 20th century that acetone became widely used in industry. During World War I, acetone was in high demand as a solvent for the production of explosives, and the British government established a program to produce acetone by fermenting maize. This process, known as the Weizmann process, was successful in producing large quantities of acetone and helped to secure the supply of explosives for the war effort.

  • Discovered in 1832 by Jean-Baptiste Dumas
  • Widely used in industry in the 20


    Acetone is a colorless, flammable liquid with a distinct odor. It is a ketone, which is a type of organic compound that contains a carbonyl group bonded to two other carbon atoms. Acetone is one of the simplest and most widely used ketones. It is commonly found in nail polish removers, paint thinners, and cleaning agents.

    Technical Properties

    Acetone has several notable technical properties that make it useful in a variety of applications. One of its most important properties is its ability to dissolve many types of organic compounds, including fats, oils, and resins. This makes it an effective solvent for cleaning and degreasing surfaces.

    Acetone is also highly volatile, meaning it evaporates quickly. This property makes it useful as a solvent in industrial processes where the rapid removal of solvents is necessary. Additionally, acetone has a low surface tension, which means it can spread easily over surfaces.

    Chemical Formula

    The chemical formula for acetone is C3H6O. This means that it contains three carbon atoms, six hydrogen atoms, and one oxygen atom. Acetone is a simple and small molecule, but its chemical structure gives it a unique set of properties.

    Key Properties

    • Boiling Point: 56.05°C (132.8°F)
    • Density: 0.79 g/cm3
    • Molecular Weight: 58.08 g/mol
    • Solubility: Miscible in water and many organic solvents

    Acetone’s low boiling point and high volatility make it easy to evaporate from surfaces. Its low density also makes it lighter than water, which means it can float on the surface of water. These properties make acetone useful in a variety of industrial and commercial applications.