Acetic Acid Chemical Industrial Pumps and Its Applications

Posted: 10/5/2016

Acetic acid, also known as ethanoic acid, is a colorless organic chemical compound with the chemical formula CH3COOH, commonly known for the sour taste and pungent smell it gives to vinegar.

The world annual demand of acetic acid is around 6.5 metric tons, which is used in the production of synthetic materials, in waste water treatment and the production of organic compounds to name a few.

Low concentrations of acetic acid in the air (10ppm) are toxic, causing irritation to eyes, the skin, and the respiratory system. Higher concentrations can cause severe medical injuries. Acetic acid at above 90 percent concentration, especially at higher temperatures, is flammable.

What Industries and Applications Handle Acetic Acid?

  • Production of Synthetic Materials: Acetic acid is used as a precursor and solvent in the production of various synthetic materials, including different types of plastics and glues such as polyvinyl acetate, nylon, cellulose acetate, and dimethyl terephthalate. More than 50 percent of the worldwide annual production of acetic acid is used for synthetic material production.
  • Vinegar: While on a worldwide scale, the amount of acetic acid used in vinegar is not large, this particular application of the chemical is by far the oldest and most widely known. Food industry vinegars typically have a 4 to 18 percent acetic acid concentration whereas table vinegar is usually more diluted (4 to 8 percent acetic acid). 
  • Waste Water Treatment: In waste water treatment processes, acetic acid can be added to neutralize the highly alkaline pH caused by caustic soda.

What are the Properties of Acetic Acid that Affect Which Pump Type and Material to Purchase?

While acetic acid is classified as a weak acid, especially higher concentrations are corrosive to many types of metals and non-metallic materials.

The prevailing concern when handling acetic acid is its containment from the surrounding equipment and workforce. The sealing system and the chemical resistance of the inner-side materials are the two aspects that determine the risk of a leak in containment. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid pumps with sealing systems that rely on mechanical parts, like those found on shaft-sealed pumps. Otherwise, the wear on the rotating shaft will gradually affect the seal and eventually the seal will fail and consequently cause a leak.

Figure 1: Acetic Acid Concentrations and Pump Materials

Acetic Acid Pump Materials

A single or collection of material/s may be rated for a higher temperature/s then the pump as a whole is capable of. It is important to contact a March representative to determine if the pump as a complete unit is suitable for the concentration and temperature of any chemical.

What Materials can Best Handle Acetic Acid?

Recommended materials for handling acetic acid include 316 SS, Polyproylene, Kynar and Ryton. An all 316SS Pump will be better at higher temperatures.   

Choosing the Right Acetic Acid Pump

March Pump offers a wide range of chemical pumps that are specifically designed to handle acetic acid. These pumps cover the whole range from 5 GPM to 200 GPM. However, the type of pump you choose greatly depends on the acid temperature, the concentration of the acid in use, its specific gravity and many other factors that should be considered before choosing a pump. While some types of pumps may seem appropriate for a particular application, economically, they may not be the most cost effective solution in the long run.

For further info, we strongly encourage you to contact the friendly March Pump support team and our experts will be happy to offer a solution specifically tailored for your requirements. Please give us a call or contact us online with any questions.

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