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Solvents Stay Strong, Despite US Drop

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

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Solvents may be falling from favor in the West, but they appear to have a strong future in paints, coatings and adhesives elsewhere in the world for the rest of the decade, a new market study concludes.

The global solvent market should reach $33 billion in revenues in 2019, forecasts the new market study on solvents by Ceresana Research of Germany.

 Methylene chloride

 Michigan State University

Demand for methylene chloride and other halogenated solvents is likely to continue declining in North America and Western Europe, but demand will remain strong in other regions, where environmental concerns are less important.

Worldwide solvent consumption will increase by about 2.5% annually in the years ahead, surpassing the growth rate of the last eight years, says the report, which profiles hundreds of companies and solvent products.

Despite a weakening U.S. market, the “dynamic economic development in emerging markets like China, India, Brazil or Russia will continue to boost demand for solvents,” reports Ceresana.

Paint and Coatings Buyers

Paint and coatings producers remain the largest segment of solvent users by far, and demand by that industry is forecast to increase by 2.9% per year until 2019.

Most of that increased demand will come from emerging and developing countries, where rising prosperity will bring growing per-capita consumption of paints, the report says.

“Many emerging and developing countries benefit from an increasing solvent demand—above all, in the paint, coating, and adhesive industries,” the report says.

Western Europe and North America will continue their efforts to reduce emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds, and the continued shift from solvent-based paints to solvent-free products will continue to dampen demand in these regions.

Elsewhere, environmental protection and regulations remain less important for now, although that is likely to change in the long term, Ceresana Reports.

The adhesive industry—currently a relatively small market for solvents—is expected to see the strongest growth in solvent use. Adhesives are increasingly being used in industrial applications, to provide lightweight, safe, flexible, inexpensive, corrosion-free connections.

Solvents will also continue to be used in a wide variety of other industrial applications, including chemical manufacturing, cooling circuits and as de-icing agents.

Market Regions

Asia-Pacific is the largest solvent outlet, accounting for about 39% of global consumption.

That market share is likely to increase, mainly at the expense of saturated industrial countries.

North America and Western Europe are still the second- and third-largest consumers, respectively, despite declining demand due to increasing legal regulations and environmental awareness by end users.

Changes targeted at reducing the environmental impact of solvents will focus on both production methods and further substitutions of specific solvent types. The manufacture of solvents from renewable resources also reduces the dependence on petroleum and improves the CO2 balance.

Mixed Demand by Types

The most frequently used solvents are alcohols, such as ethanol, n-butanol, isopropanol, and methanol. About 6.4 million metric tons of alcohol-based solvents were used worldwide in 2011.

Demand for ethanol and ethers is projected to rise at an above-average growth rate of more than 3% per year between 2011 and 2019.

On the other hand, demand for halogenated solvents—those containing a halogen such as chlorine, bromine or iodine—is plummeting in Western Europe and North America.

That category includes methylene chloride, the paint-stripping compound that has been linked to a growing number of deaths in the U.S. and is the target of an impending crackdown in the European Union.

Aromatics—including benzene, toluene and xylene—as well as pure hydrocarbons will also continue to decline.

The report includes economic forecasts through 2019, analyses of solvent demand by region and application area and in-depth profiles of 335 solvent manufacturers, including Arkema, BASF and Dow.


Tagged categories: High-performance coatings; Methylene chloride; Regulations; Solvents; VOC content

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