ICIS publishes the weekly Acetone report in Asia, China, Europe and the US.
The reports contain information on spot and contract prices, imports, and production issues, as well as maintenance plans and upstream/downstream intelligence. The unbiased pricing data, gathered by our locally based reporters, enables those involved in Acetone or related products to make informed business decisions.
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Acetone: Market overview
Updated to Q1 2018
Supply is expected to be tight given the turnarounds from Taiwan Prosperity Chemical Corporation (TPCC), Chang Chun Petrochemicals and PTT Phenol during the quarter. In addition, the arbitrage to US is likely to step up after Shell idles its older line in the US in mid-January.
Buying activities typically slow down in the lead-up to the Lunar New Year, which falls in mid-February. Demand is likely to pick up post-festivities, on the back of restocking activities.
Some players have said they expect supply of acetone could continue to lengthen in Europe in the first quarter, continuing trends observed in the fourth quarter of 2017. Others have noted some uncertainty in the outlook for Q1 acetone supply, due to changes in the global landscape of both acetone and co-product phenol. Shell Chemicals is planning to idle its Phenol 3 plant at its Deer Park facility in Texas in mid-January 2018. This could increase US demand for acetone imports, drawing import volumes away from the European market. That said, European producers could increase domestic production of phenol in response to the closure. Such a move would likely see very lengthy availability of co-product acetone in Europe in Q1.
Some players expect an uptick in demand early in the first quarter, in line with typical seasonal trends. Buyers are expected to seek to restock inventories following the holiday season. That said with fairly stable to slightly soft demand prevailing in the market ahead of the year end, other players remain unconvinced that an such an uptick in demand will have any notable impact on the longer-term supply and demand balance of the European market in the first quarter.
Domestic acetone supply will tighten in the first quarter on the impending idling of Shell Chemical's Phenol 3 unit in Deer Park in mid-January. Imports and increased operating rates at other US plants are expected to cover some of the shortfall.
Demand will remain strong, given domestic and global shortages of key derivatives such as methyl methacrylate (MMA) and bisphenol A (BPA). Demand for solvent applications will likely hold steady or soften on seasonal factors.
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Acetone is a clear, water-white volatile liquid, slightly hygroscopic with a mild, mint-like fragrant odour. It is highly flammable, miscible in all proportions in water, ethyl alcohol, ether and will react explosively with strong oxidising agents.
The largest outlet for acetone is the manufacture of acetone cyanohydrin (ACH), which is a precursor to methyl methacrylate (MMA) and methacrylic acid.
An important derivative of MMA is polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA).
Applications for PMMA include windows, skylights, signs, lighting fixtures, automotive parts, medical devices and appliances. A growing sector is in electronic applications where it is used in flat screen televisions and liquid crystal displays.
Methacrylates are also used in latex surface coatings in applications such as architectural, automotive, wood furniture, lacquers and enamels.
Nearly all MMA is polymerised to make homopolymers and copolymers.
The second largest use for acetone is the manufacture of bisphenol-A (BPA), whose growth is driven by the polycarbonate sector.
Acetone is used to make a number of chemical derivatives such as methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK), isophorone and diacetone alcohol/hexylene glycol.
Nearly all acetone production is via the cumene route where 0.62 tonnes of acetone is produced with each tonne of phenol. As a co-product to phenol, acetone availability is dependent on market conditions for phenol.