Market Research

Ceresana Reports Global Demand for Butanol Increased

March 24, 2014

Butanol and its derivatives are important ingredients of many paints and varnishes. While the use of solvent has, in general, declined due to a shift towards water-borne paints and varnishes, products based on butanol can also be used as coupling agent in water-borne formulations. Global demand for butanol raised by, on average, 2.7 percent p.a. between 2005 and 2013.

Butanol is a higher alcohol that is mainly produced through oxo-synthesis of propylene. Almost 12 percent of total global butanol output is directly used as solvent. The largest share, amounting to almost 1.5 million tons in 2013, however, is consumed in manufacturing acrylate, which is used in water-borne paints but also detergents, adhesives, and textiles. The second most important application is the production of acetate, which is used as solvent in automotive coatings or as ingredient in a range of cosmetics and pharmaceutical drugs. Glycol ethers based on butanol are highly suitable for the use as solvent in water-borne varnishes, given their miscibility with water. Also, phthalates manufactured from butanol are playing an important role as plasticizer in the processing of PVC.

Besides the commercial use of butanol in chemical applications, this alcohol is also deemed to offer significant potential for the biofuel industry. Already existing and progressing technologies to produce biobutanol by the fermentation of biomass are increasingly becoming the center of attention. Butanol offers a range of advantages when compared to conventional biofuel made from ethanol: Butanol has higher energy content and is easily miscible with diesel and gasoline. In addition, it can be combusted in conventional Otto-cycle engines without modifying the engine. Bioethanol, however, already is an established biofuel in Europe and North America, and a changeover of production facilities to manufacture biobutanol would be expensive. Another possibility is converting the bioethanol that is being produced into butanol. Adequate technologies, however, are still in the initial stages of development.

In 2013, Chinese processors consumed about the same amount of butanol as Western Europe and North America taken together. Ceresana forecasts demand for butanol on the saturated markets of Western Europe and North America to increase by only 0.4% and 0.5% p.a. respectively until 2021. As development in industrialized Asian countries such as Japan will falter as well, China will expand its dominating role on the market for butanol even further. The main motor of this growth is the construction sector, followed by the growth markets wood processing and the automotive industry. Demand for butanol on the part of Chinese processors is projected to amount to almost 1.64 million tons in 2021.

Contested Export Markets
Faced with an only moderate increase of demand or even a decline of market volume in many countries during the past eight year period, competition for access to exports markets in emerging countries increases. China is one of them, but also smaller markets such as Brazil. Yet as these countries already possess sufficient production capacities to satisfy domestic demand or are currently increasing them, an increasing surplus of butanol on the world market is the result. According to the analyses of experts at Ceresana, this trend will continue on the medium-term, resulting in a decline of capacity utilization; also, prices will not increase as rapidly as they had in the past. Countries reporting an excessive output of butanol are the USA in particular, exporting 213,000 tons of butanol in 2013, but also Russia, Malaysia, Taiwan, and South Africa.

The Study in Brief:
Chapter 1 is a description and analysis of the global market for butanol. Development of demand, revenues, and production is explained in detail. Additionally, data on existing and future production capacity is provided. This report also offers an extensive insight into the development in individual countries and regions.

Chapter 2 examines the 12 largest countries of the market in more detail and provides information on demand, revenues, production, import, and export of butanol as well as on current and future capacities. Information covering the applications acrylate, acetate, glycol ethers, solvents, plasticizers, and other applications is given as well.
Chapter 3 provides a detailed analysis of applications of butanol, e.g. its use in the manufacturing of acrylate and in other applications. This study contains data on demand development, split by Western Europe, Eastern Europe, North America, South America, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East/Africa as well as consumption figures for individual countries in these regions.

Chapter 4 is a useful directory of producers, clearly arranged according to contact details, turnover, profit, product range, production sites, profile summary, product-specific information as well as existing and future capacities at individual production sites.
Extensive profiles of 37 manufacturers are provided, such as BASF SE, BASF Petronas Chemicals, The Dow Chemical Company, Eastman Chemical Company, Formosa Plastics Group, Gazprom Neftekhim Salavat JSC, KH Neochem Co., Ltd., OXEA S.à.r.l., PetroChina Company Limited, Sasol Limited, SINOPEC Corp.

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