C2H3O2− ion, a salt, ester, or acylal derived from acetic acid. Acetates are important in the biochemical synthesis of fats from carbohydrates in plants and animals. Industrially, metal acetates are used in printing, vinyl acetate in plastic production, cellulose acetate in photographic films and textiles (one of the first synthetic fibres, often called simply acetate), and volatile organic esters as solvents.
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It was invented by two Swiss brothers, Doctors Camille and Henri Dreyfus, who originally began chemical research in a shed behind their father's house in Basel, Switzerland. In 1905, Camille and Henri developed a commercial process to manufacture cellulose acetate. The Dreyfus brothers initially focused on cellulose acetate film, which was then widely used in celluloid plastics and film. By 1913, Camille and Henri's studies and experiments had produced excellent laboratory samples of continuous filament acetate yarn. In 1924, the first commercial acetate filament was spun in the United States and trademarked as Celanese .
Acetate is a very valuable manufactured fiber that is low in cost and has good draping qualities. Properties of acetate have promoted it as the “beauty fiber”. Acetate is used in fabrics such as satins, brocades, and taffetas to accentuate luster, body, drape and beauty.
Acetate usually requires dry cleaning.
Acetate is derived from cellulose by deconstructing wood pulp into a purified fluffy white cellulose. In order to get a good product special qualities of pulps - dissolving pulps - are used. A common problem with these is that the reactivity of the cellulose is uneven, and thereby will the quality of the cellulose acetate sometimes be damaged. The cellulose is then reacted with acetic acid and acetic anhydride in the presence of sulfuric acid. It is then put through a controlled, partial hydrolysis to remove the sulfate and a sufficient number of acetate groups to give the product the desired properties. The anhydroglucose unit is the fundamental repeating structure of cellulose and has three hydroxyl groups which can react to form acetate esters. The most common form of cellulose acetate fiber has an acetate group on approximately two of every three hydroxyls. This cellulose diacetate is known as secondary acetate, or simply as "acetate".
After it is formed, cellulose acetate is dissolved in acetone into a viscose resin for extrusion through spinnerets (which resemble a shower head). As the filaments emerge, the solvent is evaporated in warm air via dry spinning, producing fine cellulose acetate fibers.
First U.S. Commercial Acetate Fiber Production: 1924, Celanese Corporation
Current U.S. Acetate Fiber Producers: Celanese Acetate, Eastman Chemical Company
For five years, the Dreyfus brothers studied and experimented in a logical, systematic manner in Switzerland and France. By 1910, they had perfected acetate lacquers and plastic film and opened a factory in Basle capable of producing about three tons a day. This was largely sold to the celluloid industry in France and Germany, and to Pathe Fréres in Paris for non-flammable motion picture film base. A small but constantly growing amount of acetate lacquer, called "dope", was sold to the expanding aircraft industry to coat the fabric covering wings and fuselage.
After some twenty-odd thousand separate experiments, by 1913, the brothers produced excellent laboratory samples of acetate continuous filament yarn. The outbreak of the First World War postponed completion of development leading to successful commercial production until 1921. The war, of course, necessitated rapid expansion of the Basle factory which terminated its trade with Germany and exclusively supplied the Allied Governments with acetate "dope" for military aircraft.
In November 1914, the British Government invited Dr.Camille Dreyfus to come to England to manufacture acetate "dope". In 1917, the War Department of the United States Government invited Dr. Dreyfus to establish a similar factory in the US after their entry into war. After about six weeks, a contract was negotiated for sale of acetate "dope" to the War Department and a plant site was sought. Dr. Dreyfus and his associates started construction of the American company at Cumberland, Maryland in 1918, but the war was over before the plant could be completed. The business with the Government was completed in due time, construction of the plant continued, the early nucleus of the management began to assemble, and the organization in England completed development of the first commercially successful acetate textile yarn. In England, in 1912, the British company produced the first commercial cellulose acetate yarn. The yarn was sold primarily for crocheting, trimming, and effect threads and for popular-priced linings.
The first yarn spun in America was on Christmas Day, 1924, at the Cumberland, Maryland Plant. The first yarn was of fair quality, but sales resistance was heavy, and silk associates worked zealously to discredit acetate and discourage its use. Acetate became an enormous success as a fiber for moiré because its thermoplastic quality made the moiré design absolutely permanent. The same characteristic also made permanent pleating a commercial fact for the first time, and gave great style impetus to the whole dress industry.
This was a genuine contribution. The mixing of silk and acetate in fabrics was accomplished at the beginning and almost at once cotton was also blended, thus making possible low-cost fabrics by means of a fiber which then was cheaper than silk or acetate. Today, acetate is blended with silk, cotton, wool, nylon, etc. to give to fabrics an excellent wrinkle recovery, good left, handle, draping quality, quick drying, proper dimensional stability, cross-dye pattern potential, at a very competitive price.