25 June 2007 00:00  [Source: ICB Americas]


2005: 355m lbs. 2006: 360m lbs. 2010: 380m lbs., projected. Demand equals production plus imports (2005: 13.8m lbs. 2006: 4.4m lbs.) less exports (2005: 57m lbs. 2006: 46m lbs.). Sources: ICIS Chemical Business Americas USITC


Historical (2001-2006): 1.8%/year. Future: 1.5%/year through 2010. Source: ICIS Chemical Business Americas


Historical (2001-2006): High, 80 cents/lb., 37%, f.a.s. export value low, 57 cents/lb., same basis. Current: 90 cents/lb., same basis. Source: USITC


Surfactants (ethoxylated nonylphenols), 80% phosphite antioxidants for rubber and plastics, 10% miscellaneous, including lube oil additives, 10%. Source: ICIS Chemical Business Americas


Ethoxylated nonylphenols (NPE) are extensively used as surface-active agents in a variety of institutional and industrial applications. These products are prepared by reacting nonylphenol with ethylene oxide in different molar ratios to yield the corresponding nonylphenol ethoxylate. This is a somewhat recession-proof application area, which grows at less than the GDP rate.

NPE competes with detergent alcohol ethoxylates (AE) in nonionic surfactant applications, used in consumer detergents, but is less expensive than AE and provides similar or superior cleaning properties. NPE though, is very slow to biodegrade compared with AE. Consequently, some major detergent manufacturers have declined to use it in their consumer detergent formulations. Other manufacturers, however, that compete on price do use it.

Recently the environmentalist groups Sierra Club, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Washington Toxics Coalition, and Physicians for Environmental Responsibility, petitioned the EPA to restrict use of NPEs in laundry detergents and other cleaning products. They claim that NPEs are endocrine disruptors that are not adequately removed by wastewater treatment processes, and consequently have an adverse affect on aquatic life. Their petition requests the EPA conduct more health and safety studies on NPEs, to require labeling for products that contain NPEs, and to ban their use in industrial and consumer detergents. And last year Wal-Mart said it was encouraging suppliers to stop using NPEs in products.

In response, the Alkylphenols and Ethoxylates Research Council said that the EPA last reviewed the environmental effects of NPEs in 2006, and found that no further restrictions are warranted. It is anticipated that the EPA will respond to the recent petition by September.

Antioxidant uses for nonylphenol, led by tris(nonylphenol)phosphite (TNPP), are growing at above average rates, though from a relatively low base.


Major consumer detergent suppliers do not use NPE in their household detergent products, favoring instead the more readily degradable alcohol ethoxylates. With 80% of demand concentrated in NPEs, a relatively modest growth of 1.5% annually is anticipated for nonylphenol, not discounting for any adverse effects of the recent complaints to the EPA by environmental watchdogs. The antioxidant sector in general will perform somewhat better, with 2.5% annual growth. Aggregate growth demand over the forecast period is projected as 1.5%/year.

US Nonylphenol CAPACITY,million LBS./year

Company Location Capacity*
Dover Chemical Dover,Ohio 35
Chemtura Morgantown, WVa. 95
Huntsman Port Neches, Tex 80
SI Group Freeport, Tex 195
SI Group Rotterdam Jct, NY
Total 428

*Millions of pounds per year of nonylphenol (NP). Commercial production is based on phenol and nonene raw materials. Some capacities may be overstated, since other alkylphenols, such as butyl-, amyl-, octyl-, and dodecylphenols, may be made using the same process equipment. Nonylphenol and dodecylphenol are the largest-volume alkylphenol products manufactured in the US.

Chemtura was formed in 2005 from the merger of Crompton and Great Lakes Chemical. Crompton came into possession of the Morgantown, W.Va. facility when it acquired GE's plastic intermediates business in 2003.

SI Group is the new name of Schenectady International.

Dover Chemical is a subsidiary of ICC Industries.

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Profile last published August 23, 2004

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