Asian Chemical Connections
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.
The main intermediates from ethylene include ethylene oxide which is used primarly in the manufacture of ethylene glycol for polyester production but can also make a number of other intermediates used in surfactants, solvents and personal care products. Vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), produced via ethylene dichloride (EDC) in most parts of the world except China, is used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Other ethylene intermediates include vinyl acetate monomer (VAM), ethanol, ethyl acetate, etc.
Propylene is used to manufacture a number of monomers and chemical intermediates. Acrylonitrile (ACN) is employed to make fibres and a number of copolymers. Major outlets for propylene oxide are in the manufacture of polyester polyols used in polyurethanes and in propylene glycol which is consumed in the production of unsaturated polyesters and de-icing fluids. A number of alcohols are produced from propylene such as isopropanol (IPA), butanol and 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH).
Butadiene is the largest volume C4 olefin consumed primarily in the production of synthetic rubbers such as styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) and polybutadiene rubber (BR). Other butadiene derivatives include acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and styrene butadiene latex.
Benzene is an important starting point for many petrochemical intermediates. It is used to make ethylbenzene which is further processed into styrene, a monomer used in a number of homopolymers and copolymers. Cumene produced from benzene and propylene is the raw material to make phenol and acetone. Phenol is consumed in the manufacture of epoxy resins and polycarbonate while acetone has many solvent applications and can be used to make methyl methacrylate (MMA). Cyclohexane is the starting point for making a number of chemical intermediates in the nylon chain while nitrobenzene is used to make methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI) for polyurethanes.
Toluene is consumed mainly in solvents and the manufacture of toluene diisocyanate (TDI) for polyurethanes. Toluene can also be converted into benzene and xylenes.
The most important xylene is paraxylene (PX), from which purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) are produced for polyester manufacture. Orthoxylene (OX) is consumed mainly in phthalic anhydride (PA) production to make plasticizers.
ICIS offers a range of FREE e-newsletters to ensure that you don't miss out on the
latest developments and key market intelligence in your industry. If you want the
latest news on your market,
sign up for ICIS e-newsletters today.
INSIGHT: Questions remain over China’s polyethylene market data
"Several theories are travelling around the market place about why the numbers are so out of sync with the prevailing mood."
VIDEO: ICIS special report on the fertilizers markets