The ICIS Glycol Ether reports are published in Asia, Europe and the US on a weekly basis. Asia and US markets focus on both the ethylene and propylene based glycol ethers within this report, while in Europe these are published separately as glycol ethers and propylene glycol ethers.
Our locally based reporters gather market intelligence on demand, supply, upstream movements, production schedules and any other key factors influencing prices at the time. Follow our universally-trusted reports to help you make informed commercial decisions.
Glycol ethers Overview Transcript
Glycol ethers are made up of several types of chemicals, and due to them being characteristically soluble in water they are used primarily for solvents like paints and coatings.
They can also be used to make inks, cleaning products and pharmaceuticals among others.
Butyl glycol, PM solvent and PM acetate are some of the key chemicals found in the glycol ethers chain.
The glycol ethers market is a developing market in Asia, with growth being driven by the rapid economic expansion in countries like China which is the region’s largest solvent market.
Glycol ethers is a derivative from ethylene and propylene. It is found E series and P series, for their link with ethylene and propylene respectively. Butyl glycol, known and BG, is produced directly from normal butanol, while PM acetate and PM solvent come from propylene oxide.
With regard to BG, China and Southeast Asia are the two main importing markets. There are few plants in China, Malaysia and Japan but this is not enough to meet the demand. Hence BG is imported by global producers from their US and European plants, the market trends in the US and Europe impact market sentiment and prices in Asia.
Asia’s BG market is also influenced by the trends in upstream markets like normal butanol.
PM solvent and PM acetate is a fairly self-sufficient market within Asia. Both are produced in China, Taiwan, Japan, and Malaysia. PM solvent and PM acetate are usually traded jointly and the main buyers are found in southeast Asia. China has some local production, which is sold in parts to the local domestic market as well as into the region. PM solvent and PM acetate markets are also influenced by upstream markets like propylene and propylene oxide.
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Glycol ethers: Market overview
Updated to Q3 2015
European propylene glycol ether (PGE) prices were overall stable in the second quarter, with prices firming slightly due to a brief tightening in availability in April because of outages. PGE supply is balanced going into the third quarter with the overall market citing demand as steady, while some resellers view demand as low. Some sources expect subdued demand in the third quarter with an uptick in demand in September when the European holiday season ends.
PGE prices in Asia again strayed from primary raw material propylene oxide (PO) prices in the second quarter and this trend is expected to continue in the third quarter. Prices are expected to remain weak relative to raw material prices as producers lose their pricing power amid a persistent PGE supply overhang.
US propylene glycol methyl ether (PM) and propylene glycol methyl ether acetate (PMA) prices were said to likely increase by at least a portion of the proposed July increases of 4 cents/lb, which saw US producers seeking separate increases in order to expand margins. A couple of sources, however, questioned the sustainability of any near-term increases, given flat year-on-year demand expected this summer, ample supply and some weak upstream values.
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Glycol Ethers Methodology
About Glycol ethers
There are two groups of glycol ethers: E-series and P-series depending on whether they are made from ethylene oxide (EO) or propylene oxide (PO). They are used mainly as a solvent in a variety of domestic and industrial applications such as paints and coatings.
E-series glycol ethers are used as solvents and coalescing aids in paint formulations while higher molecular weight glycol ethers are used in hydraulic brake fluids. They are used as intermediates to make esters.
Propylene glycol ethers (PGE) are high performance industrial solvents used in paints and coatings, cleaners, inks and other applications.
In the electronics industry, PGEs are used with other solvents in the manufacture of laminates and semiconductor processes for making circuit boards.
Other applications include agricultural, cosmetic, ink, textile and adhesive products.