Published: Jan 2010
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The global demand for acetic acid is around fourteen (14) billion pounds per year, of which twenty (20) percent is provided by recycling, and the balance is new production. The methanol carbonylation technology to produce synthetic acetic acid accounts for nearly ninety (90) percent of the new production. This technology was invented and commercialized by Monsanto Company during the late 1960's and early 1970's and zirconium alloys have evolved as the material of choice for containing the very corrosive process streams. This paper deals with the process technology development and the evolution of the use of zirconium since construction of the original plant, which had no zirconium, to an aggregate total of more than 6.5 million pounds in the twenty-three (23) plants currently operating around the world and using the methanol carbonylation technology. An additional three (3) plants are being commissioned or constructed or have been announced and these collectively will consume another estimated 1.0 million pounds of zirconium. Many of the common types of chemical processing equipment are utilized in these acetic acid plants and nearly all farms of zirconium mill products were used during the fabrication of equipment. Reprinted with permission from B. J. Sanders.
Sanders, B. J.