Our ICIS vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) reports are published weekly in Asia, Europe and the US and provide the reader with up-to-date, independent pricing information compiled by our locally-based reporters. Spot assessments are reported in all regions, while contracts only apply to Europe and the US.
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Vinyl acetate monomer: Market overview
Updated to Q4 2018
Supply may decrease on reduced output in China caused by the perennial shortage of upstream natural gas during the winter heating season along with a plant shutdown at a Nanjing-based plant. The production ethylene-based VAM in Singapore and Taiwan has been reduced since early August while VAM output in Japan will be reduced for restoration work at one of the plants after Typhoon Jebi hit Osaka.
Demand from the downstream EVA producers across Asia was set to increase steadily on increased production on the completion of plant turnarounds and increased output. The sentiment of buyers elsewhere in southeast Asia and India is less optimistic as the strong US dollar eroded buyers’ affordability levels while the US-China trade war weighed on the general mood.
Early in the fourth quarter, there are two planned turnarounds at plants normally supplying the European VAM market. As one is a prolonged debottlenecking operation, the potential for some constriction in supply exists but there should otherwise be adequate availability through the last three months of the year, although it could be snug if other units do not produce normally.
Short-term, demand might be a tad lacklustre if buyers postpone purchasing in anticipation of declining prices. However, it is likely to be reasonably healthy in October and probably the first half of November. Thereafter, it should slow down because of lower consumption for paints and coatings, and also the traditional end of year holidays and inventory management for cash flow purposes.
Fourth quarter business is expected to be brisk as Dow Chemical seeks to make up for sales lost during the second and third quarters. That may push prices lower.
Demand is expected to remain steady during the fourth quarter and greater supply may help reduce prices.
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Vinyl Acetate Monomer Methodology
About Vinyl acetate monomer
Vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) is a colourless, volatile, flammable mobile liquid, with characteristic sweet etheral odour. Vinyl acetate is a dangerous fire and explosion hazard because it will polymerise violently when exposed to heat.
It is a key intermediate used in the making of a number of polymers and resins for adhesives, coatings, paints, films, textiles and other end-products.
The largest derivative is polyvinyl acetate (PVA) which is mainly used in adhesives as it has good adhesion properties to a number of substrates including paper, wood, plastic films and metals. Other uses for PVA include paper coatings, paints and industrial coatings.
The second largest consumer of VAM is polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) which is manufactured from PVA.
VAM is consumed in the manufacture of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and vinyl acetate ethylene (VAE).
A fast growing use of VAM is the manufacture of ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) which is used as a barrier resin in food packaging, plastic bottles and gasoline tanks, and in engineering polymers.
Other VAM derivatives include vinyl chloride-vinyl acetate copolymers which have major applications in coatings, paints and adhesives.
VAM is usually produced by the catalysed, vapour phase reaction of acetic acid with ethylene and oxygen in a fixed bed tubular reactor using a supported noble metal catalyst. The VAM is recovered by condensation and scrubbing and purified by distillation.