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Comment Processing & Handling

A more direct route to ethyl acetate

By Tetsuo Satoh |

Last June, Showa Denko K.K. (SDK; Tokyo, Japan; www.sdk.co.jp) started commercial operation of its new 100,000-ton/yr ethyl acetate plant at Oita Complex. The new plant is the first commercial facility in Japan to use the company’s proprietary production-process technology. The process technology was first demonstrated in a 60,000-ton/yr plant in Indonesia. SDK formerly produced ethyl acetate by a two-step process in which acetaldehyde is first made from ethylene, and then converted to ethyl acetate. In the new process, imported acetic acid is used as a feedstock, and reacts directly with ethylene using a solid heteropolyacid catalyst, which SDK developed in collaboration with professor Toshio Okuhara at Hokkaido University and Emeritus professor Makoto Misono at the University of Tokyo. Ethyl acetate is an organic solvent used in a wide range of applications, including printing ink, paint, and adhesives for electronic devices. While global demand for the product is expected to continue growing, its business environment continues to be difficult due to the rise in raw material and fuel costs, and the increase in imports of inexpensive products that are mainly produced in China via a fermentation process.
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