Acetone Prices, markets & analysis
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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 Q4 2014
European acetone supply is expected to become longer in the fourth quarter. A seasonal weakening in demand will be coupled with increased volumes, as suppliers restart plants after completing maintenance. Prices usually weaken towards the end of the year, although seasonality has been less marked this year. Exports to Asia may recommence to maintain a balanced market in Europe.
US truck and barge acetone markets began the fourth quarter largely balanced. However, with the typically weakest quarter for downstream methyl methacrylate-to-coatings under way, there is some likelihood that acetone supply could lengthen until year-end inventory reduction begins. While the upstream benzene market is typically volatile, feedstock refinery-grade propylene supply is tightening on the back of refinery and cracker outages, which is expected to push acetone pricing higher in the near term.
Asian acetone supply is expected to increase in the fourth quarter, boosted by the commissioning of three new plants in China which have a combined capacity of 480,000 tonnes/year of acetone. These new projects are planned by Shanghai Sinopec Mitsui, Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp and Cepsa Quimica. The downtrend in raw material benzene and propylene prices since the third quarter, along with a steady in-flow of deep-sea material to China, is expected to weigh on fourth-quarter prices in Asia. Nevertheless, the downward pressure on prices may be temporarily eased by rolling plant turnarounds in China and northeast Asia in October.
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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.