About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
Not Voodoo

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
Realizations in Biostatistics
ChemSpider Blog
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa

Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net

Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine

Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem

Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus

Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Nitromed: Someone Wants Them | Main | Pfizer / Wyeth: They're Going to Take Us All Down With Them »

January 22, 2009

The Great Acetonitrile Shortage

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

Now here’s a news item that I’m pretty sure you haven’t heard about unless you work in or near a laboratory. We’re in the middle of an extreme shortage of acetonitrile, a common solvent. This has been going on since back in the fall, but instead of gradually getting better, it’s been gradually getting worse: major suppliers are sending out letters like this one (PDF).

What’s the stuff good for? Well, it’s used on a manufacturing scale in some processes, so they’re in trouble for sure. Acetonitrile is a good solvent, since it’s fairly powerful at dissolving things but still reasonable low-boiling. (That’s the nitrile functional group for you; there’s nothing else quite like it). It’s no DMSO, but then again, DMSO’s boiling point is three times a lot higher, and compared to acetonitrile it pours like pancake syrup. Nobody does industrial-scale chemistry in DMSO if they can possibly help it.

Those properties mean that acetonitrile/water mixtures are ubiquitous in analytical and prep-sized chromatography systems. This is surely its most widespread use, and is causing the most widespread consternation as the shortage becomes more acute. Many people are switching to methanol/water, which usually works, but can be a bit jumpier. But that’s not always an option. Labs working under regulatory-agency controls (GLP / GMP) have a very hard time changing analytical methods without triggering a blizzard of paperwork and major delays. In many companies, it’s those people who are first in line for what acetonitrile may turn up.

So why are we going dry on the stuff? There seem to be several reasons, one of which, interestingly, is the summer Olympics. The industrial production that the Chinese government shut down to improve Beijing’s air quality seems to have included a disproportionate amount of the country’s acetonitrile production (for example). A US facility on the Gulf Coast was shut down during Hurricane Ike as well. But on top of these acute reasons, there's a secular one: yep, the global economic slowdown. A lot of acetonitrile comes as a byproduct of acrylonitrile production, which is used in a lot of industrial resins and plastics. Those go into making car parts, electronic housings, all sorts of things that are piling up in inventory and thus not being turned out at the rates of a year ago.

So taken together, there’s not much acetonitrile to be had out there. We’ve seen some glitches like this in the past, naturally, since chemical production can depend on a limited number of plants and on raw material prices. When I was an undergraduate, I remember professors complaining aboiut the price of silver reagents during the attempted Hunt brothers corner of that market, for example. But this one will definitely be near the top of the list, and it could be months before the Great Acetonitrile Drought lifts. If you've been saving some in your basement, it’s time to break it out.

Comments (109) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Analytical Chemistry | Chemical News


1. R on January 22, 2009 9:17 AM writes...

Good post. Its shocking how the whole chemical industry can be affected by something seemingly minor and unrelated like the Olympics air quality. And also, its another impact of that rather overused phrase "the current economic climate".

Perhaps it is the incentive chemists need to move away from reliance on organic solvents, particularly in analytical chemistry, wherever possible. Nothing like a cost incentive to make people go green!

Permalink to Comment

2. Calvin on January 22, 2009 9:18 AM writes...

We've also noticed that diethyl ether is quite tricky to source at the moment. I'm not sure if that's connected to MeCN shortages. Bit of a pain really since ether sometimes purifies compounds better than other options. Oh well.

Permalink to Comment

3. Tim on January 22, 2009 9:31 AM writes...

Is this shortage going to stop production or just effect research? Will this lead to a price rise in medication?

Permalink to Comment

4. HelicalZz on January 22, 2009 9:34 AM writes...

My recollection is that we went through a similar ACN shortage in the early 90's. I was doing a lot of solid-phase oligonucleotide synthesis then, and ACN is the primary solvent for many of the reagents. Orders got quite expensive and were often delayed, as they are now. I think it only lasted for 3-6 months before supply settled down.


Permalink to Comment

5. MTK on January 22, 2009 9:49 AM writes...

While many vendors are out of acetonitrile, some still have acetonitrile with TFA added. So for those of you looking for some for HPLC purposes you might check into that.

Permalink to Comment

6. emjeff on January 22, 2009 9:53 AM writes...

Very interesting. The analytical method I used for the drug I studied in the '90s for my doctorate used acetonitrile - I went through tons of the stuff. I'd be hurting big-time if there had been a shortage...

Permalink to Comment

7. Sili on January 22, 2009 9:53 AM writes...

So did noöne see this coming at the time of the Olympics and buy up futures(?) in AcN?

Permalink to Comment

8. Sleepless in SSF on January 22, 2009 10:07 AM writes...

We do LC/MS protein analysis using ACN/water solvent systems. We actually had to break into one of three one liter bottles we have had kicking around the lab for years. Someone wrote a mid-2000 date on them, but nobody knows how long they were here before that. Fortunately, we do 75 um scale chromatography at 500 nl/min so a liter will last us a couple of months. Still, it would be nice if our pumps didn't rely on a split, since they are actually consuming ca. 150 ul/min and sending most of it to waste. I bet companies like Eksigent that make splitless nanoflow pumps are loving this.

Permalink to Comment

9. Chemjobber on January 22, 2009 10:23 AM writes...

There are ACN futures? Really?

Permalink to Comment

10. Anonymous on January 22, 2009 10:32 AM writes...

We've been having to scramble to source ACN for our analytical labs. It seems to be more unreliable than anything; we placed a big order (for us, a couple pallets is a big order)to an alternate vendor when our regular vendor told us they would be out, then the regular guy ended up having some after all.

I remember a similar problem with CCl4 in the early 90's; I was doing a radical chlorination and all of a sudden we couldn't buy it for a couple of months, and the rumor was that it wasn't going to be produced anymore. My boss ended up bringing some back that he scrounged on a company visit. Ultimatley, I did 'go green' in that I didn't use CCl4 after that, although I can't attest that the alternate was any better.

Permalink to Comment

11. CMC Guy on January 22, 2009 11:03 AM writes...

A general rule (unwritten?) in Process Development is to vet routes for potential unstable or restricted supply sources of materials as could save headaches down the road by choices of more readily available options although not always possible to control everything. Unfortunately ACN is a seemingly common solvent that does have underlying source issues as this post points out with the convergence of factors that made it worse (and hopefully temporary?). Usually there is correlation between price and security of supply and currently many proposals have had to add surcharges for the cost increase of ACN used in a production. THF and MTBE can have issues however normally not too bad for large scale work.

Permalink to Comment

12. sequiterpene on January 22, 2009 11:26 AM writes...

Calvin, Im not sure whats going on with the diethyl ether shortage. We couldnt get it back in November but luckily I got a Winchester just in time to start some Grignard reactions. Deliveries started again in January but prices from Fisher are something silly like 40 quid a bottle. Im in the UK so I dont know what the supply situation is like elsewhere- no one has really mentioned it as acetonitrile is the main concern at the moment...

Permalink to Comment

13. MTK on January 22, 2009 12:13 PM writes...


Sili may or may not have been kidding, but it wouldn't surprise me one bit if there was such a thing as acetonitrile futures. You can bet on just about anything in the financial markets.

My favorite is weather derivatives. They're evidently quite popular as risk management tools with companies whose business or costs may fluctuate depending on weather. Farmers, theme parks, heating oil companies, etc.

Permalink to Comment

14. andreew on January 22, 2009 12:30 PM writes...

Any chance of taking the waste solvent from HPLCs and rotavapping it into technical grade acetonitrile for in house use?

Permalink to Comment

15. Richard on January 22, 2009 12:59 PM writes...

Acetonitrile forms an azeotrope with water so if you tried to rotavap your HPLC waste you'd end up with acetonitrile containing at least 14 % water.

Permalink to Comment

16. Jordan on January 22, 2009 1:00 PM writes...

Great summary, Derek -- but I have to call you on this line:

It’s no DMSO, but then again, DMSO’s boiling point is three times higher

Saying that one boiling point is X times higher than another is meaningless unless its on an absolute scale. Convert the boiling points to Fahrenheit and you'll see what I mean.

Permalink to Comment

17. hibob on January 22, 2009 1:06 PM writes...

I heard a rumor about the problem back in October via VWR and decided it was worth ordering extra to last us a while. Our lab (all peptide synthesis/purification) should be OK until sometime in feb, and then we are ska-rewwed just like everyone else. The tricky problem my boss is having now is diplomacy with other PIs who want to borrow a bottle "just until our order arrives".

Permalink to Comment

18. The Inorganic Gardener on January 22, 2009 1:10 PM writes...

I have overheard "we can't get any ACN" from the mass-spec group in my department - they CAN get the 95% stuff but not the HPLC-grade they want. Obviously purifying it themselves is beyond them. Amateurs.

Andrew/Richard - is removing that last 14% water that hard? Drying agents? I have no idea - but it must be possible I would have thought?

Permalink to Comment

19. AndrewC on January 22, 2009 1:11 PM writes...

Rotovap won't work, you will need to distill it. We have thought about it here but not worth it. I am surprised that some of the solvent waste companies aren't doing this, the current price for AcN is $1000/case of 4 4L.

We tried MeOH but it just wouldn't work for our compounds and we were able to pick up enough AcN to last us a few months. Hopefully this shortage doesn't last long but the price will not go back to the pre-summer level.


Permalink to Comment

20. Derek Lowe on January 22, 2009 1:21 PM writes...

Right you are, Jordan - this occurred to me during the morning, and I've added a fix.

Permalink to Comment

21. milkshake on January 22, 2009 1:52 PM writes...

We got only one case of acetonitrile (4x4L) over the last month and half, Fisher is making all kinds of promises about delivery date then never makes good on them. Other suppliers (VWR, Aldrich, Mallinckrodt) are even more hopeless. Given that our consumption average is 20-25 cases per month, is is miraculous we lasted until a week ago but now we are out. I asked a colleague to use MeCN+methanol 1:1 mix instead of MeCN for running prep HPLC to extend our last few bottles as much as possible.

Permalink to Comment

22. Jose on January 22, 2009 2:11 PM writes...

Time to fire up a catalyst- bed filled tube furnace!

Catalytic Synthesis of Acetonitrile by Ammonolysis of Acetic Acid


The influence of principal parameters [snip] on the yield of the desired product was studied in the reaction of acetonitrile synthesis from acetic acid over g-alumina. [snip] In this work it has been demonstrated that initial temperatures of 360-380°C are optimum to effectively carry out the process of acetonitrile synthesis.

Permalink to Comment

23. Ed on January 22, 2009 3:03 PM writes...

We're using 50% MeOH, 25% THF, 25% MeCN as a substitute for 100% MeCN in HPLC applications - thus far it works just fine.

Permalink to Comment

24. KC on January 22, 2009 3:04 PM writes...

@#22 - Jose, that sounds a heck of a lot like something slavemastersVarious Academic PIs would put their underpaid workforceGraduate Students to. What good are flunkies if not for producing solvents en mass? ;)

A couple oligo mfg'rs have used the shortage as an excuse to jack around prices. I think others, still, did the same, but just didn't apologize for it.

Permalink to Comment

25. milkshake on January 22, 2009 3:44 PM writes...

I don't like using THF for prep C18 HPLC: unstabilized THF grade has lots of peroxides, the stabilized one has BHT. I dont like to have solvent-related residues in my purified stuff, TFA is often bad enough.

Generally one would like to use a water-miscible solvent with low viscosity and as good UV transparency as possible. This pretty much limits the choice.

Part of the difficulties with Fisher is related to the fact that they rejected a train-load of acetonitrile in January that did not meet the specs.

Permalink to Comment

26. nitric oxide 99 on January 22, 2009 4:29 PM writes...

I've had a lot of success in the past using isopropyl alcohol for purifying relatively hydrophobic peptides with C18 HPLC columns. Obviously your flow rate needs to be attenuated (typically to around 70% of whats normal with MeCN).

Since the shortage I've also been considering other options - I'm thinking about exploring the use of IPA/MeOH mixtures as an MeCN alternative... Anybody have any info?

Permalink to Comment

27. Fred Drinkwater on January 22, 2009 5:23 PM writes...

My old industry used to get hit by things like this. A resin factory in Malaysia (if I remember right) burned down, and basically shut down all integrated circuit packaging worldwide. An earthquake in Taiwan shutdown Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. (TSMC) for about 10 days - they were the #1 fabrication line for small companies and experimental parts. (And my wafers were on the line when the quake hit. They all survived; lucky me.)

Permalink to Comment

28. Don on January 22, 2009 6:06 PM writes...

Found this post through Google Alert. I work at one of only two plants in the US that purifies aceto. The only reason aceto supply is short is because the market for acrylonitrile is horrible (acrylo mainly used in cars and homes) and the plants are running at reduced production rates. Aceto production is a function of acrylo production. Make less acrylo and you make less aceto (normally).

Permalink to Comment

29. N. Pelosi on January 22, 2009 9:17 PM writes...

The shortage is George Bush's fault (and that brooding Cheney guy). Should clear up soon, since he is back in Texas.

Permalink to Comment

30. Anonymous on January 22, 2009 9:55 PM writes...

One Vendor says ..

Acetonitrile Status Update, 01/12/09
As part of our effort to keep you informed about the impact of the ongoing global Acetonitrile (ACN) supply shortage, EMD Chemicals Inc. would like to take this opportunity to provide a brief status update.

Based on the most recent trends in ACN raw material availability, and the continued low demand for Acrylonitirile (which is the core commodity of which raw material ACN is a by-product) in the plastics and fibers industries, it is expected that the shortage may continue through at least the 3rd Quarter of 2009.

In order to minimize the adverse impact of this supply shortage on our customers, we are continuing to actively investigate additional options for mitigating the effects of the shortage.

EMD Chemicals will continue to keep you informed regarding any changes in the status of the market and our ACN service levels. We appreciate your continued patience and understanding during this challenging period

Permalink to Comment

31. Lucifer on January 23, 2009 12:59 AM writes...

Pfizer and Wyeth in a tree

Permalink to Comment

32. Jose on January 23, 2009 2:47 AM writes...

WSJ says Satan is telling no lies. Sweet jesus, mary and joseph.

Permalink to Comment

33. baby bird on January 23, 2009 4:17 AM writes...

Use MeOH:
at least here it seems that pretty much all the HPLC here will work with MeOH as the organic modifier instead, of course this is no good if you are gmp glp and have chosen acetonitrile, you will have to do method development. LC-MS with APCI definately prefers Acetonitrile, ESI doesn't seem to mind either way. don't know anything much about big molecule HPLC but don't see why it won't work.

historically MeOH was used as much as acetonitrile then everyone kind of forgot about it, probably because people are lazy and just run acetonitrile gradient as the mobile, because since Uni they always have and it works just fine.

MeoH has a low viscosity compared to IPA, has a very short wavelength cut-off, doesn't collapse RP columns so frequently and is cheap.

I have bought MeOH futures

Permalink to Comment

34. Martin on January 23, 2009 8:28 AM writes...

We use acetonitrile/water for all HPLC as we do mixtures of peptidic and non-peptidic stuff. Reason we don't use MeOH is that it's not compatible with our freeze driers (at least the ones with -90 degree C traps). MeOH/water mixtures don't stay frozen. If your method lets you heat the whole wet mess on a rotavap to remove the solvent then fine, use methanol. But if you have a peptide that you want to keep cold and lyophilise and get a fluffy powder out the end, methanol ain't your friend.

Permalink to Comment

35. Sili on January 23, 2009 3:44 PM writes...

I have no idea, if there's such a thing as AcN futures. But if the Olympics had any influence on the shortage, someone should have seen it coming and tried to make a buck.

Even if it's 'only' a byproduct of acrylonitrile someone should have noticed that that there'd be a shortage when the financial downturn set in.

I'll be optimistic and hope that this does indeed lead to less waste and more recycling.

Permalink to Comment

36. frozenraisin on January 23, 2009 10:35 PM writes...

I've used MeOH instead of MeCN for some HPLC method. The main problem is the high UV cutoff for MeOH. At higher wavelengths, I didn't trust the HPLC purity anymore.

Permalink to Comment

37. Abhiram on January 25, 2009 8:48 AM writes...

Can anyone let me know how long does this crisis lasts.? What would be the price in February.? Is this the right time to stock more at this high price.?

Permalink to Comment

38. milkshake on January 25, 2009 8:51 AM writes...

I had a nice conversation with an engineer from Waters about their prep C18-column being used with methanol, and he suggested that we use thermostat heater for the column to compensate for drawbacks of replacing MeCN with MeOH: higher pressure, propensity of compounds to precipitate on the column, prolonged retention times (due to higher polarity of MeOH). He also advised us that the lifetime of heated columns will decrease as they degrade faster at higher temperatures.

For the time being we are using 1:1 MeCN+MeOH mix instead of acetonitrile, without the heating, and this mix actually does require somewhat steeper gradient (at least by 10%) to achieve comparable retention times but so far the precipitation or high pressure are not a problem

Also, Mallincrodt/Doe Ingalls gave us a valid quote until Jan 30, but they QUINTUPLED their price within two weeks since their quote and they even did not bother to tell us that we are charged $708 per case (4x4L) until after they delivered the product. This is a poorly-devised shake-down attempt, and I am afraid our Accounts Payable folks will not be pleased with such chutzpah

Permalink to Comment

39. Bruce Hamilton on January 25, 2009 1:06 PM writes...

The main reason I use acetonitrile for HPLC is that the pressure doesn't change so much during a gradient, with collateral problems.

Most HPLC books have nomographs that give equivalent solvent strengths for CH3CN:H20,
MeOH:H2O, and THF:H20 use in reverse phase mode.

The issue of selectivity can often be overcome by blends, and is covered in standard texts like "Practical HPLC Method Development " by Lloyd R. Synder and others.

I'd be pretty annoyed at opportunity pricing by a chemical supplier, and would start on the path of finding a long-term alternative supplier.

My acetonitrile supplier has rationed supplies to historical users ( setting a monthly maximum of 70%, based on last year's consumption ), and is charging near-normal prices. That means they keep my business, but it seems there are, at least, several Wall Street chemical companies around.

Bruce Hamilton

Permalink to Comment

40. Yoav on January 25, 2009 2:24 PM writes...

Well , friend of me and myself have noticed the
problem before it apear and we bought a vast quantity from China and we are now sell it in the USA and Europe.
I can tell you that most of the ACN is produced in China as it is a by-product of Acrylonitrile .
The HPLC grade how ever , is producing in the US, Europe and Israel.
And China is a vast market for it.
But, their is another thing, and this , that Acetonitrile can be produced industrially without any conection to Acrylonitrile , this has never been took place because when the product was a by-product of something else it was not economic to produce it.
Now it is and indeed we are start produce it on this February on.

Permalink to Comment

41. Kicker of Elves on January 26, 2009 10:11 AM writes...

Your english is frightening. I wouldn't buy MeCN from you. You sound like someone who would sell me water from the sink in an unlabeled bottle.

Permalink to Comment

42. Yoav on January 27, 2009 8:01 AM writes...

to number 41

If your judgment of either to buy or not from a person
Based on his spelling mistakes or dull languish .
You are in trouble and must look for a good shrink.
Anyway, I was and am not going to have a polemic with you.
Shame on you

Permalink to Comment

43. Pierrade on January 29, 2009 4:54 AM writes...

To Yoav:

I won't comment on your "languish", however I will tell you this: if I understand well you are a speculator and had a great intuition on the ACN shortage. Well done buddy! but maybe you shouldn't brag about it on a chemistry blog... you won't get much recognition from us end users, after all you are making money off of us right now!

Permalink to Comment

44. Nigel O Body on January 29, 2009 8:23 AM writes...

In the uk at least, Remsol seems to eb tryign to pool resources to recycle HPLC waste MeCN



Permalink to Comment

45. PHARMA1 on January 30, 2009 10:47 PM writes...

Changing the wash solvents and needlewash to MeOH made no difference, even when using CH3CN in both mobile phases. It's a quick way to save on solvent for now, without having to change any of the methods.

Permalink to Comment

46. ashraf on January 31, 2009 5:19 AM writes...

I agree with 45, it saves a lot of MeCN to wash with MeOH or IPA, especially that the washing step requires a high percentage of MeCN.

Permalink to Comment

47. AMIT SINGH on February 1, 2009 2:53 AM writes...

We are one of the leading manufacturers of acetonitrile hplc based out of India , we had anticipated this shortagwe and procured a lot of raw material which we are now converting into HPLC grade, we can supply the quantities out of India , kindly send your enquiries to

Permalink to Comment

48. amit singh on February 1, 2009 3:01 AM writes...

To 28, Don,

When do you anticipate that the demand for acrylo to pick up , and what abt the plant which was closed down due to hurricane , has it now started.

Permalink to Comment

49. yoav on February 3, 2009 3:16 PM writes...

to Pierrade
Respect your answere and yet, I did not not publish my E-Mail and did not try to make profit from what I was saying.
Also, I am and was not a "speculator",
I bought for my own production and sold to customers friends ( yes friends) who need it and why not?
Is it a crime to sell with a reasonable profit ?
Come on.

Permalink to Comment

50. Lorna Bankole on February 3, 2009 5:01 PM writes...

Whatever next? Will the acetonitrile shortage mean that on a worst case scenario people will be made redundant!
Please do not let this happen, we need our jobs as a lot of us have mortgages to pay!

Permalink to Comment

51. Mark W on February 4, 2009 9:26 AM writes...

It takes a shortage to focus the mind. For years solvent recyclers for HPLC have been sold on environmental grounds with little effect. Now things have changed somewhat! I hope after this that they continue to be used

Permalink to Comment

52. Steve on February 4, 2009 10:12 AM writes...

I think it is shocking, absolutely shocking that people haven't considered ACN recyclers before.

Ever since I got in to this industry I have been thinking about the environmental impacts of HPLC. I know it's not suitable for gradient elution but in my experience the bulk of the problem will be caused by those using the isocratic method.

Permalink to Comment

53. Tom Dirmyer on February 5, 2009 10:21 AM writes...

I have three containers available. Call me at 281.558.4474.

Permalink to Comment

54. Jose on February 5, 2009 12:39 PM writes...

"Ever since I got in to this industry I have been thinking about the environmental impacts of HPLC."

Eh? I think driving a car has a much larger impact?

Permalink to Comment

55. James on February 5, 2009 1:26 PM writes...

We can offer ACN regularly in quantity 50mt per month. just contact me at

Permalink to Comment

56. James on February 5, 2009 1:26 PM writes...

We can offer ACN regularly in quantity 50mt per month. just contact me at

Permalink to Comment

57. Jurgen Kramer on February 9, 2009 6:48 PM writes...

Good news from China!

The shortage may be not as bad as correctly analysed by Derek at that time. We had been able to develop this product and can now supply up to 100MT Acetonitrile per month. Specs at our webpage. Meryer Technology is a Sino-US joint venture, ISO certified, and the run by German Management (that is me :)

Any enquiries welcome, we are also listed at DWCP, another good tool to find suppliers...

Heads up!

Jurgen Kramer

Shenzhen Meryer Chemical Technology Co., Ltd. 
6/F, Building 4, Zizhu Science & Technology Park
Dongchuan Road 555, Minhang District
Shanghai, China 200241
Mobile: +86(0)13681866200

Permalink to Comment

58. a. on February 11, 2009 4:06 PM writes...

any suggestion for a solvent that works as good as ACN in water mixtures and that it is ok for freeze drying? I need it for C18 RP-HPLC.



Permalink to Comment

59. Karl on February 12, 2009 3:34 AM writes...

Acetonitrile is still limited in China also in the world for the time being.
We are able to supply Acetonitrile produced by Sinopec and CNPC regularly.

Content: 99.9% Min.
Moisture: 300ppm Max.
Content: 99.5% Min.
Moisture: 500ppm Max.
HPLC grade

a.150kg net drum

Karl Wang
Junwee Chemical Co.,Ltd.
Tel: +86-(0)571-56850355 85808638
MP: +86(0)13588069005
Fax : +86-(0)571-85808639

Permalink to Comment

60. Acetonit on February 12, 2009 11:48 AM writes...

My firm is currently in the process of sourcing HPLC Grade Acetonitrile directly from a manufacturer in China. We are looking at getting a couple of 55-gallon drums from our internal use. If anyone is interested, we might be able to bump up our order to cover your demands.

It will take approx. 45 days to get it to the US by ocean since it is a hazardous substance after which we can bottle it in 4-lit units for shipment (or ship the whole drum to you).

You can forward your inquiries to me at

Permalink to Comment

61. Zhang on February 15, 2009 8:45 AM writes...

We can supply ACN HPLC grade 99.9%min from China. it's similar than Merck, Fisher but the price will be much cheaper than them. we are on stable basis 5000L to offer monthly. if you are interested pls send your inquires to thx Zhang

Permalink to Comment

62. Zhang on February 15, 2009 8:45 AM writes...

We can supply ACN HPLC grade 99.9%min from China. it's similar than Merck, Fisher but the price will be much cheaper than them. we are on stable basis 5000L to offer monthly. if you are interested pls send your inquires to thx Zhang

Permalink to Comment

63. frank on February 16, 2009 8:51 PM writes...

we are direct sales agent from china ACN HPLC grade 99.9% producer. if your are interested, pls contact us though, tks and best wishes

Permalink to Comment

64. mmmmmmmm on February 17, 2009 4:41 AM writes...

Has anyone taken up these .cn hawkers on their myriad offers?

Permalink to Comment

65. processchemist on February 17, 2009 5:11 AM writes...


usual problems: low prices for medium-high quantities, not so easy to assess how much the sample (few liters) will be representative of the bulk you're going to buy (to be payed in advance) etc etc etc

Fast note: none of these folks offering the product are on my list of checked-reliable cn suppliers and I fear that the shortage is attracting vultures of any kind....

Permalink to Comment

66. milkshake on February 17, 2009 8:28 AM writes...

I can't call these acetonitrile merchants "vultures". When our previously reliable solvent vendor informed me that they raised their price fivefold, and we will have to pay $710 per case (4x4L) of ACN, and - if we ask nicely - we may get it from them within a month or so, then I say more power to those enterprising people from China and India. Anything that can undercut the price-gougers. So far this acetonitrile saga made an impression on me that the invisible hand of free market was picking our pockets.

Permalink to Comment

67. processchemist on February 17, 2009 8:44 AM writes...

milkshake, I said "I fear", not "I'm sure"... validating a new asian supplier is not an easy and fast process (for me) and I just started working on it. About the invisible hand I totally agree with you: exactly the same attitude from our usual suppliers on this side of the atlantic.

Permalink to Comment

68. frank to milkshake, on February 20, 2009 2:32 AM writes...

milkshake,pls contact me by, we can provide you ACN

Permalink to Comment

69. frank to milkshake, on February 20, 2009 2:33 AM writes...

milkshake,pls contact me by, we can provide you ACN

Permalink to Comment

70. kerris on February 20, 2009 1:50 PM writes...

We ordered a nice amount of ACN and MeOH from Pharmco (both HPLC grade). The prices were good. I checked the ACN quality on the mass spec and it is fine. The MeOH, however is different. There is a huge peak @ 172 m/z. The MeOH interferes with my analysis as my internal std quan peak is 173 m/z. Boo

Just FYI.


Permalink to Comment

71. Amit Singh on February 24, 2009 6:38 PM writes...

The shortage is slowly coming down with good availibilty from asia , however the quality of all the vendors is not as per the acceptable norms and the user needs to be carefull in asessing the quality, we have supplied few containers of bottled HPLC AC-N to USA and EU and the customers have appreciated the quality and service along with the competitive pricing.
We have increased our capacity to meet the increased demand and would solicit all the enquirires.
Kindly contact on

Permalink to Comment

72. oxbridge on February 26, 2009 10:22 AM writes...

I recently developed a method on a Fused core column (ascentis express) from Sigma. I managed to get my run time down from 24 mins to 10 mins, saving a huge amount of solvent. Even better, the column is lasting 4 weeks instead of 2! Everyone in the lab is happy!

Permalink to Comment

73. Prof D on February 26, 2009 4:14 PM writes...

(1) Systems to recycle MeCN are available:
B/R Instrument Corp. (Easton MD) 9400 or 9600 automatic distillation system;
CBG Biotech, ( Benchtop Solvent Recycler.

(2) Appreciate any word about new/continuing supplies.

Permalink to Comment

74. milkshake on February 26, 2009 7:39 PM writes...

These recyclers based on simple distillation are unsuitable because they cannot provide MeCN above 85%. You need above 95% acetonitrile ramp to wash off the accumulated greasy crap from C18 column at the end of the run.

The difficulty is that acetonitrile forms azeotrope with water at atmospheric pressure. Since azeotrope composition is dependent on the pressure, reduced pressure distillation can probably be used to provide a lower water content but the produced acetonitrile will be still wet. Also acetamide impurity formation due to acetonitrile hydrolysis could be a concern.

I suggest switching to MeCN+MeOH mix 1:1, it has worked quite well for us.

Fisher and VWR started delivering MeCN again (after 1-2 month delay) but the prices went up.

Also, someone made comment here about extending life of columns from 2 to 4 weeks. I hope you are talking about normal-phase silica (that is very sensitive to irreversible contamination with polar crap). But in case of reverse-phase analytical C18 column it should last at least half a year, more typically 1 year of heavy usage. Our very expensive prep-HPLC columns last us for several years. Of course users have to be warned not to inject samples containing NaOH, TBAF or concentrated hydrazine - otherwise the columns will go bust after few runs...

Permalink to Comment

75. vijay on March 2, 2009 10:43 AM writes...

any one interested in technology for manufacturing acetonitril?

Permalink to Comment

76. Karl on March 10, 2009 6:07 AM writes...

We are supplying Acetonitrile produced by Sinopec and CNPC regularly.
In order to establish a good long-term relationship, we welcome our friends, who have demand on Acetonitrile as well as other projects, drop by our company.

Junwee Chemical Co.,Ltd.
Tel: +86-(0)571-56850355
MP: +86(0)13588069005

Permalink to Comment

77. Ras on March 24, 2009 6:59 AM writes...

Apparently, SFC is the next new thing in separation of chiral compounds in pharma. Uses carbon dioxide, less viscous, cheaper, not to mention greener than acetonritile.

Permalink to Comment

78. Brian on March 24, 2009 5:14 PM writes...

We are able to order ACN in bulk if anyone is still looking for this item. It is 99.875 and we do have COA's on hand. Please email with any info about your current situation.

Permalink to Comment

79. Thomas C on March 26, 2009 2:39 PM writes...

I have a close friend in the industry who works for Ineos. Everybody knows there have been rumors circulating that Ineos will be following in Lyondell's footsteps and declaring bankruptcy within the near future. My friend caught wind that they will be entering receivership by the end of the month, and will announce the closing of any non-profitable operations. Acetonitrile definitely fits into the category of non-profitable, considering they can;t even fulfill any current commitments. Be smart and stock up on your future needs now - things are going to get much worse. Don't expect the low-quality Chinese product to get us through the market that is ahead of us all.

Permalink to Comment

80. Rowan on April 1, 2009 5:39 AM writes...

To quote Mr. R: "A cost incentive to make people go green"

I can't help asking myself an ethical question here. In light of China's decision to stop production in order to improve air quality, if this country is a major source that we have been using then was China manufacturing acetonitrile in an unethical or environmentally harmful manner? It would be interesting to read a journalist's review of this topic.

Permalink to Comment

81. Nandakishor Bhirud on April 17, 2009 4:16 AM writes...

We I learnt about the acute shortage of acetonitrile,and the industry suffering on account high cost of production and testing,Now,We at Azeocryst Organics Pvt Ltd are manufacturing Acetonitrile of commercial as well as HPLC grade and supplying to local industry at reasonable price.

Permalink to Comment

82. Scott Madda on April 22, 2009 12:24 PM writes...

I am a business developemnt manager for a company that specializes in taking byproduct and waste Acetonitrile streams and recovering to Tech and HPLC specifications. We specialize in servicing pharmaceutical manufacturers,styrene manufacturers, etc. who are looking to reduce disposal costs and convert materials to revenue streams. My orginization provides this service in the US as well as UK. If you are interested in learning more about the streams we have available for sale or would like us to consider recovering your material please contact me at

Scott M. Madda
Capitol Environmental Services, Inc.

Permalink to Comment

83. S D on April 26, 2009 8:59 PM writes...


Permalink to Comment

84. Milind on April 26, 2009 10:12 PM writes...

Shortage days are back,The availibility was just or a short time ,Rumors of INOES comming back have failed,they cant keep up there promise,and heard many clients have burnt they fingers with Chinese stuff (be very careful)

Permalink to Comment

85. milkshake on April 27, 2009 11:43 AM writes...

I just re-ordered 11 cases of HPLC acetonitrile at $176 per case (4x4L) from one major US company. Its the price we have been paying with them since January 2009.

Don't buy from unknown vendors that demand arm and leg (and your firstborn son too). Stockpile for few months of usage instead because then you have time to shop for the best prices.

Permalink to Comment

86. William on May 5, 2009 12:55 PM writes...

We heard about a few different systems, that would allow us to recycle our ACN. so we checked with the few companies mentioned in these postings. We worked with a guy at CBG Technologies named Chris Hall 800-941-9484, this company knows their stuff. They actually set us up on a trial with one of their systems. they sent someone out to install it and train us. I am very happy to say we purchased the system and are no longer subject to market shortages. we are able to recycle 90% of our ACN for reuse. Our purchasing costs have dropped almost 90% and we also have a much lower disposal volume. We purchased the F800 model and could not be more pleased!

Permalink to Comment

87. William on May 5, 2009 12:56 PM writes...

We heard about a few different systems, that would allow us to recycle our ACN. so we checked with the few companies mentioned in these postings. We worked with a guy at CBG Technologies named Chris Hall 800-941-9484, this company knows their stuff. They actually set us up on a trial with one of their systems. they sent someone out to install it and train us. I am very happy to say we purchased the system and are no longer subject to market shortages. we are able to recycle 90% of our ACN for reuse. Our purchasing costs have dropped almost 90% and we also have a much lower disposal volume. We purchased the F800 model and could not be more pleased!

Permalink to Comment

88. Shawn on May 10, 2009 1:25 AM writes...

to Milkshake #85,

Could you please tell me what company were you orderd from? The price of $176per case is pretty good, by calculating the price per bottle is just $44, I assume you have made a mistake.

Permalink to Comment

89. Bruno Teles on May 10, 2009 10:36 AM writes...

I'm student of Chemical Engineering and I'm doing my Dissertacion about Acetonitrline. If someone could help me with some informations I would apreciate. Thank you

Permalink to Comment

90. milkshake on May 10, 2009 5:26 PM writes...

Shawn, I cannot give you their name because this would certainly make them very unhappy, discussing their discount pricing in public. But let just say it is a major US supplier of lab chemicals and lab equipment, and they are very motivated to keep our business so they provide their HPLC grade acetonitrile to us at prices close to their production cost. I realize this is the most likely explanation, since the other offers we got were in the range $300-600 per case.

(They could certainly make more money by selling the acetonitrile for higher price, and we try not to abuse this relationship and we still cut on our consumption, etc.)

But the prices are going down, but I don't think is gonna be $100 per case of HPLC acetonitrile again any time soon

Permalink to Comment

91. Shawn on May 10, 2009 8:39 PM writes...

Thanks Milkshake for your information, your ordered price is still surprising me, this price is at the level of former normal price, even lower. We have just purchased 1case(4*4L bottle) at the price of USD130per bottle, what a big difference.

Permalink to Comment

92. Leigh J on May 12, 2009 4:02 PM writes...

If any of you have found any real deals, please pass the information on to Stewart Smith via email. His email is He is one of the university purchasing agents.
We are one of many labs in need of acetonitrile to continue our research, so any help would be appreciated in locating a reasonable priced supply. Thank you!

Permalink to Comment

93. SERENA on May 14, 2009 10:11 AM writes...

Hi everyone,

Good news , acetonitrile prices have come down drastically and now we are able to offer ACETONITRILE GRADIENT GRADE @ USD 70 per 4 lit in UN approved packing.
However the chances are that this availibility is short lived as some of the manufacturers are going for shut down due to annual maintainence .

Kindly contact for ready stock at Starbucks.chem

Permalink to Comment

94. Martin on May 16, 2009 10:23 PM writes...

so grateful that Derek posted such a good weblog here.
yes, Serena, acetonitrile prices did slump from a high level. but in past few days, the price was going up slowly again.
we providing acetonitrile from sinopec, you could contact us at

Permalink to Comment

95. COCRCO on May 18, 2009 12:03 AM writes...

Shown, would you plz contact me for introducing our acetonitrile HPLC grade? we can offer acn at lower pirce than you currently buy but never $176 per case it's unreasonable.

Permalink to Comment

96. COCRCO on May 18, 2009 12:04 AM writes...

Shown, would you plz contact me for introducing our acetonitrile HPLC grade? we can offer acn at lower pirce than you currently buy but never $176 per case it's unreasonable.

Permalink to Comment

97. HEMAL SHAH on May 19, 2009 8:43 AM writes...

at moment ,the price of Indian brands like RANKEM /MERCK etc have quite lucrative like US $ 40 PER PACK OF 2.5 LTR

Permalink to Comment

98. SERENA on May 20, 2009 1:19 PM writes...

We can offer ready stock acetonitrile HPLC at USD 70 per 4 ltr.After the initial slump the prices are rapidly climbing up again.Contact for ready stock and immediate delivery on

Permalink to Comment

99. NoACN on June 5, 2009 9:48 AM writes...

Is this acetonitrile shortage over yet?

Permalink to Comment

100. scott on June 13, 2009 12:16 PM writes...

can any one tell whats the exact price of 1200L of hplc acetonitrile.i need the same

Permalink to Comment

101. SERENA on June 15, 2009 12:28 PM writes...

We can offer ACETONITRILE GRADIENT HPLC @ USD 25 per lit , fob india.

Contact on

Permalink to Comment

102. COCRCO on July 9, 2009 11:07 PM writes...

Hi Scott, currently we can offer 1200L of acetonitrile HPLC grade at Price $18 kindly contact me for details.

Permalink to Comment

103. milkshake on July 10, 2009 12:30 AM writes...

we are currently paying $176 for 16 liters (case 4x4L) of HPLC acetonitrile, with two major suppliers in US. Both of them offer free shipping.

Permalink to Comment

104. tomasz on July 21, 2009 12:49 PM writes...

Can anyone make me an offer for HPLC grade acetonitrile, taking into account delivery to Poland?

Permalink to Comment

105. COCRCO on August 12, 2009 2:41 AM writes...

tomasz, we can offer ACETONITRILE HPLC to Poland. regularly we export to Rotterdam and Humburg. the price to Poland $14 per liter if interest plz feel free to contact us.

Permalink to Comment

106. Tom Boyd on September 25, 2009 1:53 PM writes...

Hello Everyone,
I work for We Are Green and we just reclaimed Acetonitrile at Purdue University and they love it. This same unit reclaimed Xylene at the University of Illinois at Chicago that is now being used at their hospital.

We provide the service of supplying clean solvent all the time by providing you a machine to test and use with no up-front costs. Please check out our website . Please keep in mind that we have developed a desktop that is currently not on the site. We will have the first two in a matter of days. The fisrt one goes to U.I.C and the second to Purdue. Feel free to call me anytime.

Feel free to call Adam Krajicek (Hazardous Materials Chemist) at Purdue at (765) 496-3072 to confirm.

My number is (310) 927-4783.

Tom Boyd
General Manager
We Are Green

Permalink to Comment

107. Tom Boyd on September 25, 2009 4:23 PM writes...

Please see my comment on the blog. We reclaimed Acetonitrile for Purdue University and they loved it. Hopefully we can help you out.

Tom Boyd

Permalink to Comment

108. Tom Boyd on September 25, 2009 4:23 PM writes...

Please see my comment on the blog. We reclaimed Acetonitrile for Purdue University and they loved it. Hopefully we can help you out.

Tom Boyd

Permalink to Comment

109. nabil on March 20, 2010 2:15 PM writes...

subject: looking for information about
hi every body,
i really like the information i read there.
i'm chemical engineer student and i' am looking for information about acetonitrile. It's my project this year.
I have to look for information about a new process with direct synthesis in order to run a simulation for a plan in aspen simulator.
I would like to know if some one can help me with inofrmations to collect data.
i am planing to schedule my work in:
Market study ( supplyer, consumption,
price ...)
Chemical study
and runing a simulator after designing plant.
I hope find someone who will help me by providing website adress or useful datas.

Permalink to Comment


Remember Me?


Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

The Last Post
The GSK Layoffs Continue, By Proxy
The Move is Nigh
Another Alzheimer's IPO
Cutbacks at C&E News
Sanofi Pays to Get Back Into Oncology
An Irresponsible Statement About Curing Cancer
Oliver Sacks on Turning Back to Chemistry