Methanol Carbonylation Continues as the Most Popular Route for Acetic Acid Production
Acetic acid, widely used in the form of household vinegar, is naturally made from fermentation of potatoes, apple, grains, and berries amongst others. While this remains the key factor upholding revenue generation in acetic acid market, there are several other areas of application that are likely to push the expansion of global acetic acid market. Vinegar is a clear solution with acetic acid concentration levels between 4% to 8% and 95% water. Acetic acid with 99.5% concentration is referred to as glacial acetic acid (GAA). This pure form of acetic acid is used in production of industrial chemicals, industrial solvents, as well as in other applications like oil well stimulation, cleaning and disinfection of processed food, and pharmaceutical production processes. Sustained uptake within these application areas will continue to support the acetic acid market growth.
Acetic acid represents diverse organic chemicals that can be used across a range of feedstock and production processes. Carbonylation of methanol is one of the most popular route in acetic acid market landscape that accounts for more than 2/3rd of the total acetic acid capacity worldwide. Recently, BP has made a revolutionary breakthrough technology - SaaBre™ that has produced acetic acid from syngas, thus eliminating the necessity of methanol as a feedstock.
Vinyl Acetate Monomer (VAM), and Purified Terephthalic Acid (PTA) to Remain Largest End Users
In 2018, more than 16 million tons of acetic acid was consumed worldwide. Vinyl acetate monomer accounted for more than 1/3rd of this acetic acid demand in the same year. It is used in a variety of polymers and base resins such as polyvinyl acetate and polyvinyl alcohol. These products are used in a range of applications in paints & coatings, adhesives, films, and cable materials, thereby pushing the acetic acid market growth. Purified terephthalic acid is the second largest and one of the fastest-growing derivatives in acetic acid market. Boost in resin production, especially polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and polyester fiber, is further expected to accelerate acetic acid market performance.
Acetic anhydride is another major derivative of acetic acid. Cellulose acetate fibers and plastics is the major application of acetic anhydride. Cellulose acetate flakes are mainly consumed in cigarette filter tow. Acetic anhydride is also used as raw material for drug manufacturing such as aspirin and acetaminophen. Ethyl acetate is another major outlet for acetic acid and is primarily used as solvent in paints and coatings, printing inks, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. It is also used as an intermediate to wide range of drugs including sulphamethoxazole, rifampicin, etc. Other applications of acetic acid include n-butyl acetate, monochloroacetic acid, ethanol, and other acetate compounds.
China Continues to Lead Asia Pacific as the Most Important Market for Acetic Acid
Asia Pacific is the largest producer and consumer of acetic acid. The region has been the epicentre of capacity additions and demand for acetic acid. China accounts for more than half of the world acetic acid production. It has huge coal-derived methanol production plants, a key raw material in the production of acetic acid. This helps China to offer competitive product prices in the market. Demand in Asia Pacific region is majorly driven due to rise in production of ethyl acetate, vinyl acetate monomer, and purified terephthalic acid along with support from their downstream applications.
North America is the second largest producer and consumer of acetic acid. On the back of cost competitive methanol production, the region is anticipated to be one of the largest net exporters of acetic acid over the coming years. Demand for acetic acid in the Europe is expected to move in line with economic growth in key countries. Vinyl acetate monomer and purified terephthalic acid will continue to boost demand for acetic acid in the region.
Companies to Focus on Capacity Expansion, and Business Integration to Gain Competitive Advantage
Majority of the multinational companies operating in the global acetic acid market have integrated business operations. Companies such as Celanese operates across the value chain, gaining a competitive advantage in the market. M&A synergies are also expected to play important role in key geographies. In 2020, Ineos purchased BP’s petrochemical global assets. This purchase added BP’s aromatic and acetyl assets to Ineos’ existing capacity in North America. This acquisition will strengthen Ineos’ position in the competitive market.
Furthermore, to meet the robust demand from numerous applications, companies are investing in capacity expansions with new technologies. The Middle East region is expected to lead the capacity additions over the coming years. The region is anticipated to add 1.3 MTPA capacity from two-new build projects from The Oman Oil Company and Bushehr Petrochemical Company. In North America, Celanese also announced increase in capacity of acetic acid plant in Texas to be completed by 2023.
The acetic acid market is segmented as below:
By End-use Industry
Key Elements Included In The Study: Global Acetic Acid Market
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