The main outlet for maleic anhydride (MA) is in the manufacture of unsaturated polyester resins (UPR), which are used in a wide range of applications such as pleasure boats, bathroom fixtures, automobiles, tanks and pipes. The second most important use for MA is the production of 1,4-butanediol (BDO), tetrahydrofuran (THF) and gamma-butyrolactone.
World MA consumption has grown at around 3%/year over the long term. Growth will be slower in western Europe and the US but higher in eastern Europe, South America and Asia, in particular China. Growth will also reflect general economic conditions with many end-uses being in the construction, automobile and marine industries.
Maleic anhydride is produced commercially by the oxidation of benzene or butane. The butane-based process is considered to have superior economics and is the preferred route by most producers. However, a small amount is produced by the benzene route.
Maleic anhydride occurs as colourless or white crystalline flakes with strong acrid (pungent) odour. MA is toxic and an irritant to the skin and mucous membranes leading to burning and ulceration. Care must be taken to avoid inhalation.
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Nearly 50% of world maleic anhydride (MA) output is used in the manufacture of unsaturated polyester resins (UPR). Chopped glass fibres are added to UPR to produce fibreglass reinforced plastics which are used in a wide range of applications such as pleasure boats, bathroom fixtures, automobiles, tanks and pipes. However, the UPR market is affected by general economic conditions being tied to the construction, automobile and marine industries.
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Maleic anhydride (MA) is produced commercially by the oxidation of benzene or butane. Although the butane-based process is considered to have superior economics and is the preferred route, Lonza claims its fixed bed benzene route is competitive in low cost revamps and medium-size plants. However, when the cost of benzene is high, this route is much less attractive.
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