Ethyl Acetate: A Sweet-Smelling Universal Solvent
The fruity scent of ethyl acetate, found in glues, nail polish removers, perfumes, cigarettes, gives it a universal appeal. Surprisingly, even the vinegary aroma in wine is also due to the presence of ethyl acetate formed during the fermentation process. Ethyl acetate is a common ester used in numerous applications ranging from household goods to industrial chemicals. It is also known as ethyl ethanoate. The product is mainly derived from non-aromatic raw materials.
Ethanol and acetic acid are the key materials required for manufacturing ethyl acetate. Ethylene is also employed in some processes wherein ethanol is not available for esterification. Ethyl acetate can be synthesized with a wide range of technologies including esterification process, catalytic condensation, dehydrogenation, and partial oxidation amongst others.
Growing Consumer Preferences Towards Greener Solvents
In 2015, REACH banned certain adhesive and paint products containing solvents such as toluene and benzene amongst others to general public. This ban provoked the need for greener solvents in adhesives and coating applications. This has given ethyl acetate an excellent opportunity as it is an environmentally-preferred solvents across industries.
In the past couple of decades, its popularity has outgrown other solvent counterparts such as xylene, toluene, and butanol due to its low toxicity, cost efficiency, and agreeable odour. Furthermore, ethyl acetate’s higher evaporation rate benefits applications wherein quick turnaround is desirable. For instance, ethyl acetate is the most preferred solvent for printing inks used in rotogravure and flexographic processes.
It is also used in a variety of coating formulations including urethanes, acrylics, cellulosic, and epoxies. These coatings are in industries such as wood furniture, auto refinish, architectural, and marine. However, in past few years, a significant shift towards waterborne, high solids, and powder coatings due to environmental constraints on VOC emissions has led to the shrinking market share of solvent-borne coatings. This has severely affected the consumption trends of ethyl acetate in coatings, especially in architectural and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) landscapes.
Flourishing Pharmaceutical and Food & Beverages Industry to Bolster Demand
Ethyl acetate is believed to be one of the least environmentally toxic organic solvents, especially in the highly regulated pharmaceutical and food & beverages industry. The pharmaceutical industry is using ethyl acetate as a solvent for crystallization or as an intermediate to various drugs such as rifampicin, sulphamethoxazole, etc. It is also a key component in the extraction and purification of antibiotics.
In the food industry, ethyl acetate is widely used in the manufacture of flavors & fragrances as well as in production of synthetic fruit essences. Ethyl acetate is used to bring fruity flavour to gums, candy, and baked goods. It is also used to decaffeinate coffee, tea leaves, and cigarettes. The demand for ethyl acetate is expected to remain consistent owing to growing consumption of green solvents in production of pharmaceuticals, food & beverages, and personal care & cosmetics.
Asia to Remain Largest Contributor in Terms of Supply and Demand
In 2018, Asia Pacific was the largest contributor to ethyl acetate in terms of supply as well as demand. Growing demand from end-use applications such as pharmaceutical, food & beverages agrochemicals, and coatings, adhesives, sealants, and elastomers (CASE) applications have been the key driving factors behind the growth. Besides, there has been a surge in the packaging industry in China, India, and Southeast Asia. The growing popularity of flexible packaging films over rigid packaging has been the key driving force behind the growth. Ethyl acetate is used in a solvent cast process to manufacture these flexible films.
Asia Pacific region caters to more than 3/4th of the global ethyl acetate demand. China and India are major exporters of ethyl acetate to the U.S. and Europe. The demand in the U.S. and Europe was largely stable in the last few years. However, the demand in the solvent-based CASE applications is poor in these regions owing to the switch towards eco-friendly products. Analysts anticipate that the market is expected to expand in line with economic growth in the region.
With Market Edging Towards Consolidation Will Bio-based Ethyl Acetate Become a New Norm?
In the past few years, the ethyl acetate market has edged towards consolidation with China being the largest supplier of the product. In the recent past, the country has also observed a long supply overhang keeping utilization rates at 50% in few manufacturing sites. At the same time, new capacity addition in the Middle East and Asia also worsened the situation with supply outpacing demand thus affecting the product margins in the long-term.
To achieve sustainable manufacturing and focus on renewable materials companies have started producing bio-based ethyl acetate. This will help consumers switch from petrochemical feedstocks towards renewable feedstocks without negotiating product performance.
In 2021, Viridis Chemical, LLC announced EPC partnership with Koch Project Solutions to increase capacity at its Nebraska, U.S. facility. The company plans to commence production of bio-based ethyl acetate in Q4 2022. India-based Godavari Biorefineries is another player active in bio-based ethyl acetate market who manufactures it with USDA BioPreferred® certified Acetic Acid (100% biobased content). The certification also demonstrates its commitment to offer sustainable biobased chemicals to a wide range of industries.
Key Elements Included In The Study: Global Ethyl Acetate Market
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