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 Q3 2017
In the US, the VAM market should be largely balanced in Q3 with supply able to meet demand. This comes as the supply situation has normalised after turnaround activity last quarter. Demand is expected to increase with the peak paints and coatings season underway. Overall, US prices are largely expected to remain steady. Meanwhile, the Latin American markets will likely see prices decrease as supply in the region improves after the recent conclusion of turnaround activity.
The outlook for the European VAM market in Q3 is a little hazy. It is clear that supply tightness will not continue to the same degree of intensity, and prices, certainly in the spot market, could decline somewhat over the next quarter. Producers will probably try to hold on to the gains they achieved in the previous six months, and they will certainly defend their margins against the re-imposition of the 5.5% import tariff, which will happen at the beginning of Q3. Suppliers still believe some snugness remains in the market.
Asia’s ethylene-based VAM producers are cautiously optimistic that prices could remain bolstered by snug supply as several plants in Singapore and Japan are still due for maintenance shutdowns from July to the first half of August. Buyers said that current prices afforded good margins for producers amid corrections in ethylene feedstock values during Q2. Prices could eventually decline if VAM producers subsequently ramp up their plant operations after shutdowns as economic growth remains sluggish in southeast Asia.
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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.