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Acetic Anhydride

Acetic anhydride plant
ALC carbon outcome Furthering research and technology to advance low carbon
Geographic scope UK
GHG saved/offset

N/a - research and technology

Information on methodology and/or basis

Acetic anhydride is a chemical used in the production of cellulose acetate, which can in turn, be made into textile fibres and plastics, film and coatings. In addition, acetic anhydride is used in pharmaceuticals and the production of a bleach activator in laundry detergent. Acetic anhydride can also be used in a process called wood acetylation, to improve the durability of wood and wood materials. For example, it will be used in the manufacture of acetylated Tricoya® wood chips to produce high performance MDF or particle board panels.


There are two main ways to make acetic anhydride: the ketene process and the carbonylation process. The older ketene route involves heating the acetic acid feedstock in a specialized furnace with a catalyst that is then further reacted with acetic acid to make acetic anhydride.  Carbonylation is a unique process developed by BP that requires less energy than the ketene process. This is because it does not need heat to react carbon monoxide with methyl acetate to create acetic anhydride. BP produces acetic anhydride at its plant in Hull, UK, using this more energy-efficient carbonylation process.