Vinyl Acetate Uses

What is vinyl acetate?

Vinyl acetate, also known as vinyl acetate monomer or VAM, has a chemical formula of C4H4O2. This chemical is primarily used as a raw material in the production of other industrial chemicals. Some of these derivatives include polyvinyl acetate polymers and ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymers. Vinyl acetate and its derivatives are most widely recognized as components used to produce adhesives, but the applications don't stop there. Coatings, resins,films and other substances made with vinyl acetate are present in a range of industrial applications.

Vinyl acetate appears in its pure form as a clear, colorless liquid. It's often described as having a sweet, fruity smell that can seem sharp to some people. It is slightly soluble in water and evaporates in air, though its vapors are heavier than air. Vinyl acetate is also highly flammable and may ignite in the presence of heat, sparks, or flames in the workplace.

In this article you will learn:

  • What Vinyl Acetate is Made Of
  • Is Vinyl Acetate Toxic
  • Advantages of Vinyl Acetate
  • Vinyl Acetate Derivatives
  • Vinyl Acetate Uses

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What is vinyl acetate made of?

Vinyl acetate is not a naturally occurring resource. Monomeric vinyl acetate is derived in a lab from ethylene. The ethylene is reacted with oxygen and acetic acid using a vapor-phase reaction. In this reaction, chemists bubble the ethylene through anhydrous acetic acid, using palladium chloride as a catalyst. The reaction is usually completed in the presence of an inhibitor, which prevents the reaction from spontaneously producing polymers.

Once created and separated, the vinyl acetate can be shipped or further processed into vinyl acetate derivatives. Most often, vinyl acetate is converted into a polymer, which is accomplished under the action of free-radical initiators.

Is vinyl acetate toxic?

One of the primary questions regarding vinyl acetate is its safety in the workplace. Vinyl acetate does pose some hazards and is considered slightly toxic, though the risk posed to human health is largely undefined. At present, the risks posed to human health are defined as follows:

Short-Term Exposure Risks

Short-term exposure to vinyl acetate in the air has been shown to cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. These effects scale in severity with the relative presence of vinyl acetate in the air. Additionally, direct contact of vinyl acetate with the skin or eyes can result in blistering and irritation.

Long-Term Exposure Risks

Chronic occupational exposure to vinyl acetate has been shown to increase instances of upper respiratory tract irritation.

At present, the federal government has imposed standards and guidelines to protect people from the potential negative health effects of vinyl acetate. Spills of over 5,000 pounds of vinyl acetate into the environment are required to be reported to the National Response Center, and OSHA has set a limit of how much vinyl acetate can be present in the air over an eight-hour shift or 40-hour work week.

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Advantages of vinyl acetate

Vinyl acetateand its derivatives possess several unique properties that make them advantageous in the production of various coatings and adhesives. These properties vary depending on the specific derivative, though most within this group exhibit one or more of the propertieslisted above. A few of these properties include:

  • Oxygen Barrier: Ethylene vinyl alcohol is a popular derivative of vinyl acetate, known primarily for its ability to provide a flexible oxygen barrier. This makes it an excellent barrier resin in food packaging, as it protects foods from spoiling without increasing rigidity.
  • Adhesion: Many of vinyl acetate's derivatives possess adhesive andgap-filling
    properties, allowing them to stick effectively to a variety of surfaces. This makes these substances ideal for the production of various types of glues and adhesives in commercial and industrial applications.
  • Toughness: Upon drying or setting,many vinyl acetate derivatives are exceptionally
    tough, resisting wear and tear usually by exhibiting some level of elasticity. This property makes them an ideal ingredient in the production of coatings and films.
  • Clarity: Vinyl acetate and its derivatives are clear and colorless, allowing them to be used in a range of applications without affecting the color and finish of a product. This clarity makes these substances an excellent choice for clear adhesives as well as coatings and films.
  • Chemical Resistance: Vinyl acetate products generally possess some level of resistance to oil and gas, making them excellent protective coatings.

Vinyl acetate derivatives

Vinyl acetate is a monomer and a key intermediate in the production of several polymers and resins, which are used to produce a range of end-products for industrial applications.

Some of the derivatives of vinylacetate include the following:

In total, producing polyvinyl acetate and polyvinyl alcohol makes up approximately 80% of global vinyl acetate monomer production. The remaining production volume goes to the other polymers and resins listed above.

Uses of vinyl acetate

Vinyl acetate is the unsung hero of the adhesive industry and many others. While vinyl acetate is rarely used in its pure form, its derivatives are used throughout various industries. The unique chemical properties of vinyl acetate derivatives make them perfectly equipped to tackle a range of industrial applications.

The widespread usage of vinyl acetate derivatives has made it a strong contender in the market. Sales for vinyl acetate have grown substantially in the last decade and are expected to continue growing 4% per year. From glues and resins to paints and textiles, vinyl acetate serves as the essential intermediate for compounds that are integral in the production of many products used in modern daily living.

Vinyl acetate and its derivatives are used in a huge range of industrial applications. Some of them are described in detail below:

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Explore your options with Brenntag

If you need a quality specialty and chemical distributor that can connect you with the supplies you need, look no further than Brenntag North America.

Brenntag Coatings & Construction (Adhesives, Coatings, Elastomers, and Sealants) provides high-quality raw materials for many applications, and our team of experts can help you choose the right materials for your needs.

Brenntag North America is a leading resin and adhesive solutions provider, offering a broad range of raw materials. Our regional operating companies distribute our products through 190 locations, making it easy to connect with us. Combined with our experience and connections with the best suppliers in the world, we are the ideal resource for your Coatings & Construction items.Call Brenntag today at (800) 915-0027 or contact us online.

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