Recycling Acetone

What’s the Best Way to Recycle and Recover Acetone?

In Maratek’s first blog of this series, ‘What is Acetone and How is it Used as an Industrial Solvent, we looked at what exactly acetone is and how it’s used as an industrial solvent.

In this blog, we will be going through the solvent recovery process and the best method to recycle your spent acetone. With acetone prices so high, it is almost necessary to expand the lifetime of your solvent as much as possible. 

What are the benefits of acetone recovery?

Acetone is used in multiple industries such as the furniture, window, flooring, cabinetry, and fiberglass manufacturing sectors. It is a great solvent for cleaning equipment, or during production and manufacturing. 

It is combined with fats, oils, waxes, resins, rubber, plastics, lacquers, and varnishes. Some of the benefits of acetone are that it is effective, water soluble, and has a low toxicity. 

With acetone being such a versatile solvent, it would only make sense to recycle it and re-use the recycled product, rather than purchase a brand-new solvent. With the demand for acetone growing and the supply slowing, recycling, and recovering your used acetone is the best way to get ahead of demand.

You can also benefit from becoming an environmentally-friendly company when recycling your acetone. 

Though it is good for companies to have philanthropic initiatives, it is always a good idea to show your customers that you are actively working on being eco-friendly. By recycling your solvents, you are minimizing your waste disposal, minimizing fresh chemical purchases, and minimizing storage of hazardous chemicals.

Once you have completely used your solvent, you can do one of two things. 

  1. First, you can recycle and recover it, and extend the lifespan of, what is now, a very costly solvent. 
  2. As the solvent is categorized as hazardous waste, your only other option is to dispose of it, resulting in wasted solvent and spending budget that you could be saving. 

Why acetone recycling is the best choice 

The table below shows your potential costs and savings based on Maratek’s Drum Disposal customer average. Our customers will average two to four drums of acetone monthly. These are their savings: 

Number Of drums with Waste Per month 1 Drum2 Drums4 Drums
Cost Of Purchase For Drum Of New Acetone $780$1560$3120
Cost Of Drum Disposal$150$300$600
% Of Contaminants Present in Each Drum 20%20%20%
Annual Solvent Purchasing Savings Using Recovery Equipment$7488$14,976$29,952
Annual Waste Disposal Savings Using Recovery Equipment$1440$2880$5760
Total Annual Savings Using Recovery Equipment$8928$17,856$35,712
Drums Reduced Per Year Using Recovery Equipment101938

With the cost of Acetone rising, it only makes sense to extend the lifetime of the solvent as much as possible before disposing of it.

Try this calculator to see your return on investment with how much you could potentially save by recycling your acetone! 

How does the acetone recovery process work?

Now that you have seen what you could possibly save by recovering your solvent, we will go through the process of how acetone is recycled so you understand the simplicity of the process. 

There are multiple pieces of equipment that you can use to recover your solvent, depending on the amount of spent solvent you have to recycle. The process for acetone recovery is a distillation process that requires you to separate the waste from the solvent and collect them separately. That process is as follows: 

  1. In the recovery process, you begin by putting your used acetone into the feed vessel to go to the distillation vessel. Or the distillation vessel can be filled directly.
  2. Once filled, the distillation vessel is heated through a thermal oil jacket with electric heaters. The solvents in the vessel are boiled and the vapors are sent to a condenser. The waste remains behind in the boiling vessel.
  3. The condenser then cools the vapor back to liquid form.
  4. The clean liquid volent is drained to a collection container to be reused. 
  5. The undesired waste left behind is removed from the distillation vessel and should be properly disposed of. 

What happens to the waste?

Disposal of hazardous waste is another step to consider during the recycling process. With hazardous waste, you must find a licensed waste removal that can get rid of it effectively. 

Once the acetone has been separated from the waste and is back to a virgin solvent quality, the waste is considered hazardous. This waste must now be collected and disposed of following safety regulations. 

The consequences of improper disposal of solvents such as acetone causes harm to the environment, the people, animals, and plants that are around the disposal site, and the community is affected with future implications like contamination of drinking water, pollution, and any future ecosystems. 

The rising prices of acetone

Within the last year, you may have noticed that acetone has had a huge spike in price. This has been largely due to a shortage of the chemical. It was noted that a US producer of the chemical had to stop fulfilling a contract in February due to weather conditions. The weather back in February 2021 was very unusual for the US Gulf Coast, resulting in this shortage of acetone. Unfortunately the unpreparedness had contributed to the company, Olin, needing to declare a Force Majeure on said contracts for acetone.

Acetone is a necessary solvent in multiple industries, so knowing how best to recover and reuse it is key when thinking about the future of your business. 

With the added benefits of being both environmentally friendly and budget friendly, these recycling and recovery solutions will ensure your business is more profitable. 

Want to learn more? Get in touch with Maratek Environmental today. We’d love to help!