Acetone, propanone or dimethyl ketone, is an organic compound with the formula (CH3)2CO. It is the simplest and smallest ketone. It is a colourless, highly volatile and flammable liquid with a characteristic pungent odour.
Acetone is miscible with water and serves as an important organic solvent in its own right, in industry, home, and laboratory. About 6.7 million tonnes were produced worldwide in 2010, mainly for use as a solvent and production of methyl methacrylate (and from that PMMA) as well as bisphenol A. It is a common building block in organic chemistry. Familiar household uses of acetone are as the active ingredient in nail polish remover and as paint thinner. It has volatile organic compound (VOC) exempt status in the United States.
Acetone is produced and disposed of in the human body through normal metabolic processes. It is normally present in blood and urine. People with diabetic ketoacidosis produce it in larger amounts. Reproductive toxicity tests show that it has low potential to cause reproductive problems.[medical citation needed] Ketogenic diets that increase ketone bodies (acetone, β-hydroxybutyric acid and acetoacetic acid) in the blood are used to counter epileptic attacks in infants and children who suffer from refractory epilepsy.
In 1832, French chemist Jean-Baptiste Dumas and German chemist Justus von Liebig determined the empirical formula for acetone. In 1833, the French chemist Antoine Bussy named acetone by adding the suffix -one to the stem of the corresponding acid (viz, acetic acid). By 1852, English chemist Alexander William Williamson realized that acetone was methyl acetyl; the following year, the French chemist Charles Frédéric Gerhardt concurred. In 1865, the German chemist August Kekulé published the modern structural formula for acetone.Johann Josef Loschmidt had presented the structure of acetone in 1861, but his privately published booklet received little attention. During World War I, Chaim Weizmann developed the process for industrial production of acetone (Weizmann Process).
In 2010, the worldwide production capacity for acetone was estimated at 6.7 million tonnes per year. With 1.56 million tonnes per year, the United States had the highest production capacity, followed by Taiwan and mainland China. The largest producer of acetone is INEOS Phenol, owning 17% of the world’s capacity, with also significant capacity (7–8%) by Mitsui, Sunoco and Shell in 2010. INEOS Phenol also owns the world’s largest production site (420,000 tonnes/annum) in Beveren (Belgium). Spot price of acetone in summer 2011 was 1100–1250 USD/tonne in the United States.
The most hazardous property of acetone is its extreme flammability. In small amounts Acetone burns with a dull blue flame, in larger amounts the evaporation of fuel causes incomplete combustion and a bright yellow flame. At temperatures greater than acetone’s flash point of −20 °C (−4 °F), air mixtures of between 2.5% and 12.8% acetone, by volume, may explode or cause a flash fire. Vapors can flow along surfaces to distant ignition sources and flash back. Static discharge may also ignite acetone vapors, though acetone has a very high ignition initiation energy point and therefore accidental ignition is rare. Even pouring or spraying acetone over red-glowing coal will not ignite it, due to the high concentration of vapour and the cooling effect of evaporation of the liquid. It auto-ignites at 465 °C (869 °F). Auto-ignition temperature is also dependent upon the exposure time, thus at some tests it is quoted as 525 °C. Also, industrial acetone is likely to contain a small amount of water which also inhibits ignition.