Skip Navigation Linkschemical intelligence : petrochemicals-aromatics


Aromatics & Aromatic Chemicals Information from ICIS

Aromatics are a major group of unsaturated cyclic hydrocarbons containing one or more rings. These are typified by benzene which is the simplest aromatic hydrocarbon with a 6-carbon ring containing three alternating double bonds. The term ‘aromatics’ is derived from the compounds initially discovered which had fragrant odours.


In the petrochemical industry, the aromatic hydrocarbons of commercial interest include benzene, toluene, orthoxylene and paraxylene. They are derived from the pyrolysis gasoline produced during the steam cracking of liquid hydrocarbons such as naphtha, gas oil and condensates, or from the catalytic reforming of naphtha in an oil refinery. A small amount is still produced from the distillation of light oils produced during the manufacture of coke.


These aromatic compounds are used to produce a number of petrochemical intermediates including styrene, phenol, purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and phthalic anhydride (PA). A number of polymer families are also derived from these aromatics such as polystyrene (PS), polyester/polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polycarbonate, nylon and polyurethanes (PUs).


Benzene is the largest volume aromatic petrochemical used to produce a number of petrochemical intermediates such as ethylbenzene for styrene production, cumene for phenol and acetone, cyclohexane and nitrobenzene.


Toluene is used in solvent applications and is consumed in the manufacture of toluene diisocyanate (TDI) which is used in the manufacture of polyurethane foams. A major use of toluene is to make benzene and xylenes using a number of technologies.


Paraxylene is the largest volume isomer of the mixed xylenes. Around 98% of paraxylene demand comes from the polyester chain via one of its intermediates, purified terephthalic acid (PTA) or dimethyl terephthalate (DMT). These two products are reacted with ethylene glycol to make PET resins.


Orthoxylene is consumed mainly in the manufacture of phthalic anhydride, which is used to make phthalate plasticizers, unsaturated polyesters resins and alkyd resins.

Links to other Petrochemicals-Aromatics Browse other Chemical Categories
ICIS Newsletters

ICIS offers a range of FREE e-newsletters to ensure that you don't miss out on the latest developments and key market intelligence in your industry. If you want the latest news on your market, sign up for ICIS e-newsletters today.

Free trial to ICIS
John Richardson - Asian Chemical Connections Blog
John Richardson’s Asian Chemicals Connections Blog looks at Asian and global commodity chemicals and polymer pricing trends, supply and demand, macroeconomics, energy and environmental issues.


INSIGHT: Smaller distributors specialise and innovate to grow
"Smaller-scale distribution companies can be more streamlined and can focus more easily on a limited number of products and principals" more

VIDEO: ICIS Special Report: Innovation is key to success


We welcome your feedback. Please feel free to send us your comments on any aspect of this site. Click here to make your comments.