What is Acetone? Structure and Uses

What is Acetone?

Acetone is a highly flammable organic compound. This organic solvent has a chemical formula C3H6O. It is found in the exhaust from vehicles, plants, trees, and forest fires, and also found in the human body usually present in urine and blood. C3H6O is colorless and volatile. It is miscible in water, ether, ethanol and has a pungent, floral, or irritating smell. It is widely used as an antiseptic and solvent. Alchemists were the first to produce acetone. It is produced with the dry distillation of metal acetates. Currently, It is produced by propylene either by the direct or indirect method. Almost 83% of C3H6O is produced during the cumene process. Also, there are other older methods to produce C3H6O.

How is Acetone Produced?

It is derived from propylene, directly or indirectly. The cumene cycle produces approximately 83% of the global acetone production. As a result, the production of acetone is tied to the development of phenols. Benzene is alkylated with propylene in the cumene cycle to obtain cumene, which is oxidized by the environment to create phenol and C3H6O.

Organic Formula of Acetone

It consists of three carbon atoms, six hydrogen atoms, and one oxygen atom. It is considered a ketone since there is a carbonyl group present in it. Thus, the chemical formula for C3H6O or propanone is written as-

Acetone Chemical Formula = C3H6O


Uses of C3H6O

It is widely used as an industrial solvent. It also serves as a precursor to methyl methacrylate. This process begins with the conversion of acetone into acetone cyanohydrin. Many synthetic fibers and plastics can be dissolved in C3H6O.

  • Used as a solvent for synthetic fibers and plastics
  • It is used as a precursor for methyl methacrylate
  • It is used to prepare metal before painting
  • Used in pharmaceutical industries in some drugs
  • It is used as a drying agent
  • Used in the defatting process
  • It is used in cosmetics such as nail polish remover
  • It is used in the treatment of acne

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