Jump menu

Main content |  back to top

What is acetone?

Acetone, also sometimes known as 2-propanone or dimethyl ketone (DMK), is widely used as a chemical intermediate in the production of other chemicals. It is also a valuable solvent.

Acetone is manufactured by Shell chemicals companies from the basic raw materials of benzene and propylene. These materials are first used to produce cumene, which is then oxidised to become cumene hydroperoxide, before being split into phenol and its co-product, acetone.

How is acetone used?

Acetone is used primarily in the production of commercial products such as acrylic plastics, which are used for glazing, signs, lighting fixtures and displays. Acetone is also used in the production of Bisphenol A (BPA) which is manufactured from acetone and phenol. BPA is, in turn, used to manufacture polycarbonate (the largest and fastest growing use for BPA), and epoxy resins.

Both polycarbonate and epoxy resins are used in many different industries and in countless items which we encounter every day. The use of acetone as an intermediate feedstock for acrylics and BPA accounts for two thirds of total acetone use.

Acetone is also one of the most widely used solvents in the world, and is found in many everyday products, including paints, cleaning fluids, nail polish remover, and adhesives. In these applications, use is often made of acetone's combination of high solvency with a high rate of evaporation. Acetone's listing as a non-volatile organic compound (VOC) in the US is increasing its use in coatings applications.

It is also used extensively in the manufacture of artificial fibres and as an intermediate in pharmaceuticals.

What are our key strengths in the acetone sector?

  • Fully integrated production facilities at Deer Park, Texas for the manufacture of cumene and its conversion into phenol and acetone.
  • Logistics system capable of meeting customer needs in different regions for consistent product in deep sea vessel, barge, rail or tank truck quantities.
  • Professional sales and customer support teams.
  • Long term commitment to the phenol/acetone sector.
  • Relationships with select distributors in North America that enable supply of break-bulk quantities of product.
  • Support for customers to help ensure their employees are given appropriate training in handling acetone and are aware of, and sensitive to, environmental issues.

 

 

Acetone product datasheet and description
Product/Grade Description Download
Acetone

Acetone, also sometimes known as 2-propanone or dimethyl ketone (DMK), is widely used as a chemical intermediate in the production of other chemicals.

Acetone, as manufactured by Shell chemicals companies, is derived from the basic raw materials of benzene and propylene. These materials are first used to produce cumene, which is then oxidised to become cumene hydroperoxide, before being split into phenol and its co-product, acetone.

Acetone is a colourless, low boiling, easy pouring liquid with a characteristic odour. It is miscible in all proportions with water, alcohols, many hydrocarbons and other organic liquids. It has good solvent properties for vegetable and animal fats, cellulose, natural and synthetic resins and many other organic substances.

Datasheet

Acetone occurs naturally in plants, trees, volcanic gases and forest fires. Low levels of acetone also occur naturally in our bodies, the result of the breakdown of body fat.

Shell chemicals resources