Vinyl acetate monomer Prices, markets & analysis
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Vinyl acetate monomer overview Transcript
Vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) is derived from acetic acid and ethylene.
The main end-uses are: polyvinyl acetate, known as PVA and polyvinyl alcohol, known as PVOH. These go into water-based paints, adhesives, coatings and packaging.
VAM prices are impacted by upstream costs and supply demand balances. Pressure from both ethylene and acetic acid can play a significant role in price movements.
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Vinyl acetate monomer: Market overview
Updated to Q4 2014
Soaring vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) spot prices are expected to remain at or near present levels for the remainder of 2014. A very tight US supply situation is expected to continue with two producers still on force majeure, and stable demand also could receive a boost from the traditional year-end demand surge by producers to clear out inventories for tax purposes.
Asia’s VAM spot prices may face downward pressure from the availability of competitively priced Chinese material.
Some end-users in southeast Asia and Taiwan indicated that if tests proved that Chinese products were acceptable in their production processes and if prices of major producers’ material remained higher, these buyers would procure substantial portions of their future requirements from China.
Some producers, however, indicated that -here was no pressure to offload cargoes at substantially lower prices and that end users should continue to shore up their inventories on account of an impending turnaround at a VAM plant in the latter half of October in southeast Asia, whereas Chinese material still lacked a widespread acceptance by end-users.
Suppliers in China painted a firmer outlook on pricing on account of an anticipated reduction in domestic supply. China’s Sinopec Great Wall Energy and Chemical Co plans to shut its new 450,000 tonne/year VAM plant in Yinchuan, in October for around one month to rectify unspecified mechanical issues. The VAM plant commenced trial runs on 26 August.
Separately, a Sichuan-based plant was expected to operate at a reduced output level of 50-60% capacity during the winter season in line with curtailed natural gas supply for industrial usage. The said producer, however, has yet to finalise its plans.
With the continued easing of the supply constraints that afflicted the European VAM market earlier in 2014, buyers are now looking for prices to lower before the end of the year. However, sellers point out that there are still outages in other regions of the world and Europe is now entirely dependent on supply from outside the continent. Allowing for this on one hand but also the probable usual slowdown in consumption of VAM by the coatings sector during the winter months, the market looks likely to be fairly well-balanced, with possible scope for a slight softening in values.
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Vinyl Acetate Monomer Methodology
About Vinyl acetate monomer
Vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) is a colourless, volatile, flammable mobile liquid, with characteristic sweet etheral odour. Vinyl acetate is a dangerous fire and explosion hazard because it will polymerise violently when exposed to heat.
It is a key intermediate used in the making of a number of polymers and resins for adhesives, coatings, paints, films, textiles and other end-products.
The largest derivative is polyvinyl acetate (PVA) which is mainly used in adhesives as it has good adhesion properties to a number of substrates including paper, wood, plastic films and metals. Other uses for PVA include paper coatings, paints and industrial coatings.
The second largest consumer of VAM is polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) which is manufactured from PVA.
VAM is consumed in the manufacture of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and vinyl acetate ethylene (VAE).
A fast growing use of VAM is the manufacture of ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) which is used as a barrier resin in food packaging, plastic bottles and gasoline tanks, and in engineering polymers.
Other VAM derivatives include vinyl chloride-vinyl acetate copolymers which have major applications in coatings, paints and adhesives.
VAM is usually produced by the catalysed, vapour phase reaction of acetic acid with ethylene and oxygen in a fixed bed tubular reactor using a supported noble metal catalyst. The VAM is recovered by condensation and scrubbing and purified by distillation.