Asian Chemical Connections
The bulk industrial chemicals category includes those chemicals and materials produced in the chemical industry in large quantities, typically using continuous processes although they may be manufactured in large batch equipment. The price of these chemicals tends to be a more important factor than their performance.
Inorganic chemicals are substances of mineral origin that do not contain carbon in their molecular structure with the exception of carbon oxides and carbon disulphide. Important classes of inorganic compounds include oxides, halides, carbonates and sulphates.
Organic compounds are materials that contain carbon and hydrogen and usually other elements such as nitrogen, oxygen and halogens. Hydrocarbons only contain carbon and hydrogen while organic compounds with other functional groups include alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, phenols, ethers, esters, etc.
Aromatics are a major group of unsaturated cyclic hydrocarbons containing one or more rings. These are typified by benzene which is the simplest aromatic hydrocarbon with a 6-carbon ring containing three alternating double bonds. The term ‘aromatics’ is derived from the compounds initially discovered which had fragrant odours.
Olefins, also called alkenes, are unsaturated organic compounds that contain at least one carbon-to-carbon double bond. They can be used in many reactions which occur by opening up the double bond.
This sector captures the main petrochemical intermediates which are produced from the primary olefins and aromatics building blocks. These petrochemical intermediates are further processed to make a wide range of chemicals and materials used in industry such as monomers, detergents, adhesives, solvents, plasticizers, lubricants, etc. From the monomers, it is possible to make polymers for use in plastics, resins, fibres, rubbers/elastomers and coatings.
Polymers are long chains of repeating molecules, or monomers, held together by covalent chemical bonds. In most cases, the number of repeating monomers is very large, as much as hundreds of thousands.
INSIGHT: Transitory downdraft for global petrochemicals
That does not mean US producers cannot maintain fat margins – they may just be somewhat leaner."
VIDEO: ICIS special report - impact of lower crude oil prices