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Did you know that tanks that have been used to carry acrylic polymers and latexes are often cleaned with caustic and steam? Many acrylates are chemical compounds known as ESTERS. Esters are the reaction product of an organic acid (acrylic acid) and an alcohol such as ethanol or methanol. Common esters include substances such as fingernail polish remover (ethyl acetate) and vegetable oils (fatty acid esters of glycerine, aka glycerides).

Did You Know That Acrylates Are “Easy-Cleans”?

Did you know that tanks that have been used to carry acrylic polymers and latexes are often cleaned with caustic and steam? Many acrylates are chemical compounds known as ESTERS. Esters are the reaction product of an organic acid (acrylic acid) and an alcohol such as ethanol or methanol. Common esters include substances such as fingernail polish remover (ethyl acetate) and vegetable oils (fatty acid esters of glycerine, aka glycerides). Many flavors and fragrances are esters as well. One of the common traits of esters is that they can react with water (in the presence of acid or base) and regenerate the starting acid and alcohol. This is a process known as HYDROLYSIS. In a basic solution (such as a caustic solution), the acid reacts with the base and forms a salt. Using base (or alkali) to hydrolyze an ester is called SAPONIFICATION and is the process used to make soap.

As stated, many acrylates are esters. When treated with caustic, they saponify and form the acrylate salt and the starting alcohol.

The reaction between caustic and acrylates releases the starting alcohols, some of which can be quite odorous. That is why fogging a tank with John-Henry GAMMA NEBULA® after cleaning is recommended. It neutralizes the odor of the alcohol (and any residual monomer) and prepares the tanks for the next load.

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