Acetone Prices, markets & analysis
If you buy or sell Acetone or related products, you need up-to-date global pricing data and the background information to help you understand it.
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Acetone overview Transcript
The largest consumer of acetone is methyl methacrylate (MMA) and acrylic acid, nearly all MMA is polymerised to make homopolymers and copolymers.
The second largest use for acetone is the manufacture of bis-phenol A who’s growth is driven by the polycarbonate sector. Other significant outlets for acetone include solvents use.
Around 90% of acetone production is via the cumene route to make phenol, where 0.62 tonnes of acetone is produced with each tonne of phenol. As phenol demand is growing faster than acetone demand there is a global surplus of acetone in the market.
Acetone is a clear water-white volatile liquid, which is highly flammable. Europe has the capacity to produce approximately 2.5 million tonnes per year of acetone, while global production is set close to 7 million tonnes per year. Global growth is around 5% per year with Asia being the fastest growing region. In Europe, growth is set at around 0-2% per year.
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Acetone: Market overview
Updated to Q3 2015
European acetone is balanced to long, thanks to strong demand for co-product phenol. Pricing continues to be driven by costs of raw material propylene. Propylene values are expected to fall in the third quarter which could provide some margin relief to producers if they are able to maintain pricing. However, in loose market conditions this is challenging. Imports from Asia may continue to be a theme, with exports becoming harder.
In the US, the June announcement that producer Haverhill Chemicals would suspend operations was greeted with optimism by most market participants, who have faced relatively flat demand, balanced to long supply and weak margins on co-product phenol. Haverhill’s closure of its Ohio facility is expected to boost domestic plant operating rates by an average of 10%. Some producers hoped the tighter supply/demand fundamentals would provide an opportunity to raise acetone prices in the third quarter
Asian acetone prices are expected to languish near a multi-year low in the third quarter as the market struggles with excess supply. Steady demand for primary product phenol from downstream sectors, including bisphenol A (BPA) and cyclohexanone, is keeping phenol plants outside China operating at high rates. However, this has led to a build in acetone surplus when demand into China is falling. The yuan-denominated Chinese acetone market plunged to its lowest point since February 2009, following the start-up of three new phenol/acetone plants, putting tremendous downward pressure on the US dollar-denominated import parity price.
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Acetone is a clear, water-white volatile liquid, slightly hygroscopic with a mild, mint-like fragrant odour. It is highly flammable, miscible in all proportions in water, ethyl alcohol, ether and will react explosively with strong oxidising agents.
The largest outlet for acetone is the manufacture of acetone cyanohydrin (ACH), which is a precursor to methyl methacrylate (MMA) and methacrylic acid.
An important derivative of MMA is polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA).
Applications for PMMA include windows, skylights, signs, lighting fixtures, automotive parts, medical devices and appliances. A growing sector is in electronic applications where it is used in flat screen televisions and liquid crystal displays.
Methacrylates are also used in latex surface coatings in applications such as architectural, automotive, wood furniture, lacquers and enamels.
Nearly all MMA is polymerised to make homopolymers and copolymers.
The second largest use for acetone is the manufacture of bisphenol-A (BPA), whose growth is driven by the polycarbonate sector.
Acetone is used to make a number of chemical derivatives such as methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK), isophorone and diacetone alcohol/hexylene glycol.
Nearly all acetone production is via the cumene route where 0.62 tonnes of acetone is produced with each tonne of phenol. As a co-product to phenol, acetone availability is dependent on market conditions for phenol.