The Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) markets are covered by ICIS on a weekly basis in Asia, Europe and the US. These benchmark assessments, used widely by industry, are key to keeping you fully informed of market developments.
Prices are predominantly for the spot market, though domestic and regional quotes also appear. Our locally-based reporters give informed but unbiased commentary on market overviews, upstream and downstream movements, economic news, graphs and plant shutdowns/operating rates, when applicable.
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Methyl ethyl ketone: Market overview
Updated to Q3 2018
Supply in most of northeast Asia would be tight on several scheduled turnarounds in the third quarter. However, Chinese supply is expected to be stable. Buyers may keep low inventories and buy on a need-to basis during the hottest months and in the mist of the monsoon season in India.
In quarter three, typically when the months are the hottest, downstream demand is typically weaker when most of the outdoor work is done in the cooler hours of the day. Market players with high inventories would also need some time for the material to be digested, especially in northeast Asia.
European methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) supply is expected to remain at a similar level for Q3. The arbitrage between Asia and Europe is mostly closed and not expected to open except in the case of a major price spike. Because of the low number of European producers, MEK spot prices are very volatile.
European methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) demand is expected to be relatively strong in the first half of July, but forecast to fall in August. Commercial activity is normally healthy in early July, but decreases during August due to the holiday period in northwest and southern Europe.
Supply of US methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) is likely to remain ample through the third quarter of 2018 as the market has successfully readjusted after tightness in 2017. MEK is not produced in the US, with the region relying on imports largely from Europe, South Africa and Asia.
Demand is expected to remain stable through the third quarter, supported by a strong US economy. While there was no clear uptick in demand attributable to the coatings season, there is still plenty of activity in the construction sector, where US sales of new homes in May were up by 14% year on year.
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Methyl ethyl ketone news & analysis
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Methyl Ethyl Ketone Methodology
About Methyl ethyl ketone
Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) is a colourless, mobile, flammable liquid with an acetone like odour. It is soluble in ethyl alcohol, benzene, ether and acetone, and miscible with oils. It is also a fast-evaporating active solvent with an evaporation rate similar to ethyl acetate.
The main application for MEK is as a low-boiling solvent for nitrocellulose, acrylic and vinyl surface coatings. Around half of global MEK demand is derived from the paints and coatings industry. Its advantage is that low viscosity solutions can be obtained, having a high solids content, without affecting the film properties. These lacquers are used in the automotive, electrical goods and furniture industries.
MEK can also be used in rubber-based industrial cements and printing inks. Its fast evaporation rate makes it popular for rubber-based industrial cements, low-temperature bonding agents and as an azeotropic separation solvent for printing inks. It is also a component of the solvent system used in producing magnetic tape.
MEK is also a solvent required for the polymerisation processing of polystyrene, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), and styrene-butadiene-rubber (SBR).