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 Q1 2017
Asia’s VAM market players were bullish on prices in Q1 2017, supported by a combination of firmer feedstock costs, increased captive usage and new downstream ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) plant capacities in China and South Korea. Increased costs of upstream coal, methanol, acetic acid and ethylene over December 2016 was a key factor behind the drying up of competitively-priced VAM exports from China. The addition of new production capacities in the downstream ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) sector in China was further expected to curtail VAM export quantities in 2017, as do increased captive usage by Chinese VAM producers for polyvinyl alcohol production.
The European VAM market in the first quarter of 2017 are expected to encounter two conflicting influences on prices. Firstly, there is again a suspension of the normal 5.5% EU import tariff. A corresponding saving for consumers might be expected, at least by the latter, although the substantially increased quota should militate against such downward pressure. Opposing that are higher upstream raw material costs, which will induce producers to resist any further softening in already soft values.
In the US, VAM supply should tighten a bit as plant turnarounds begin to get underway at the end of Q1. Meanwhile, demand will continue to remain slow, especially from the paints and coatings sector, with the winter season underway. Prices are expected to face upward pressure from rising feedstock ethylene and methanol costs.
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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.