The terms acrylate and methacrylate originate from the terms acrylic acid and methacrylic acid, respectively. That means, acrylates and methacrylates are derivatives of acrylic acid and methacrylic acid.
What is Acrylate?
Acrylates are derivatives of acrylic acid. Here, derivatives mainly refer to salts, esters and conjugate bases. The acrylate ion has the chemical formula CH2=CHCOO-. Therefore, it is an anion having a -1 negative charge. This anion can combine with different cations to form salts and other ionic compounds. Most often, the term acrylate refers to the esters of acrylic acid, e.g. methyl acrylate.
An acrylate anion contains a vinyl group. This vinyl group is directly attached to a carbonyl carbon atom. Due to the presence of this vinyl group, the acrylate compound becomes bifunctional; the vinyl group can undergo polymerization while the carboxylate group carries myriad functionality.
Acrylate compounds are common monomers that are useful in the production of polymer plastics. E.g. formation of acrylate polymers. Acrylate compounds can easily undergo polymerization, and there are various acrylate-functionalized monomers as well.
In the industrial scale, we can prepare acrylate compounds using a method that involves treating acrylic acid with a suitable alcohol. This reaction requires a catalyst such as sulfuric acid if it proceeds with an alcohol having a high amount of carbon atoms. This reaction should be performed in a homogenous phase in order to get an accurate end product. But if we use a low carbon atom alcohol compound for this reaction, a heterogeneous catalyst that is acidic is suitable. However, we can obtain acrylates with a very high carbon atom content using a transesterification reaction of lower esters using the catalyst titanium alcoholate.
What is Methacrylate?
Methacrylates are derivatives of methacrylic acid. The parent acid (methacrylic acid), salts, esters and polymers are included among the derivatives of methacrylic acid. In other words, methacrylic acid having the chemical formula CH2C(CH3)CO2H, salts such as CH2(CH3)CO2-Na+, esters such as CH2C(CH3)CO2CH3 (methyl methacrylate) and methacrylate polymers are considered collectively as methacrylate compounds.
Most commonly, methacrylates are monomers in the production of polymer plastics. The end product of this type of polymerizations is acrylate polymer material. Here, methacrylates can easily undergo polymerization because they have a highly reactive double bond. Sometimes, methacrylate compounds are used as the monomer resin for windscreen repair kits, dental substances and as bone cement for fixing prosthetic devices in orthopaedic surgery.
What is the Difference Between Acrylate and Methacrylate?
Acrylates and methacrylates are organic compounds. The key difference between acrylate and methacrylate is that acrylates are the derivatives of acrylic acid, whereas methacrylates are the derivatives of methacrylic acid. Furthermore, the acrylate anion contains a vinyl group attached to a carboxylate group. But in methacrylate anion, the vinyl group contains an extra methyl group, which leads to its name meth-acrylate. Thus, this is the structural difference between acrylate and methacrylate.
Below infographic tabulates the differences between acrylate and methacrylate.
Summary – Acrylate vs Methacrylate
Acrylates and methacrylates are organic compounds. The key difference between acrylate and methacrylate is that acrylates are the derivatives of acrylic acid, whereas methacrylates are the derivatives of methacrylic acid. Both acrylate and methacrylate compounds are important as monomers for polymer production. In addition to that, methacrylates are also used as the monomer resin for windscreen repair kits, dental substances and as bone cement for fixing prosthetic devices in orthopaedic surgery.
1. “Acrylate.” ScienceDirect, Available here.