Methyl ethyl ketone Prices, markets & analysis
ICIS provides independent and unbiased pricing information, news and market analysis for the global Methyl ethyl ketone market. Our network of price reporters, based in Asia, Europe and the US, deliver local insight for each of these markets, which is published in our individual weekly and daily price reports.
If you buy or sell Methyl ethyl ketone or related products, our reports, news and market intelligence will give you the prices and analysis of the factors driving the prices that you need to make confident commercial decisions.
Methyl ethyl ketone Overview transcript
Methyl ethyl ketone or MEK is a solvent used mainly in paints and coatings and adhesives. It is also found in household products such as lacquer, varnishes, and paint remover.
Japan, Taiwan, China and the US are key exporters to markets such as South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand. Most sellers outside of China have long-term supply contracts, with distributors across Asia, and prices are usually settled on a monthly basis.
The Chinese tend to be spot sellers and any big swings in their supply can quickly impact regional prices.
The predominance of long-term supply agreements has done little to keep Asian prices stable in recent years, with demand growth outstripping capacity expansions in Asia, any tightening in supply due to plant shutdowns can effect prices significantly.
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Methyl ethyl ketone: Market overview
Demand in the methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) market has remained weak in the third quarter in Europe and in North America, with prices on a downward trend since mid-2011.
In both markets, demand was affected by poor weather conditions. This weaker consumption was especially seen in the paints and coatings markets.
In the US, flattening prices for feedstock ethylene has kept MEK prices from increasing. It is expected that the US MEK market will remain flat and quiet for the rest of 2013.
Despite low demand, prices of MEK in Europe have increased slightly in July and early August as prices of feedstock naphtha firmed up. However, there is little expectation that demand will surge soon and market players are focusing on the price movements of naphtha to gauge the price of isopropanol (IPA).
In Asia, several Chinese producers are expected to continue cutting operating rates at their facilities to boost their margins amid persistently weak downstream demand and high feedstock costs.
Updated to mid-August 2013
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About Methyl ethyl ketone
Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) is a colourless, mobile, flammable liquid with an acetone like odour. It is soluble in ethyl alcohol, benzene, ether and acetone, and miscible with oils. It is also a fast-evaporating active solvent with an evaporation rate similar to ethyl acetate.
The main application for MEK is as a low-boiling solvent for nitrocellulose, acrylic and vinyl surface coatings. Around half of global MEK demand is derived from the paints and coatings industry. Its advantage is that low viscosity solutions can be obtained, having a high solids content, without affecting the film properties. These lacquers are used in the automotive, electrical goods and furniture industries.
MEK can also be used in rubber-based industrial cements and printing inks. Its fast evaporation rate makes it popular for rubber-based industrial cements, low-temperature bonding agents and as an azeotropic separation solvent for printing inks. It is also a component of the solvent system used in producing magnetic tape.
MEK is also a solvent required for the polymerisation processing of polystyrene, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), and styrene-butadiene-rubber (SBR).