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.
Updated to Q2 2020
Supply decreased amid a planned maintenance shutdown at a major Japanese plant in mid-Q2, with another Chinese plant scheduling a turnaround in early Q2. However, other northeast Asian manufacturers that were mostly running at high production rates, counterbalanced the shortened supply. Some market players considered supply to be long because of low operating rates at downstream factories, hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
With downstream sectors, especially paints and coatings and automotive, badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, demand was stable, at best. Some demand was seen in inks and packaging, but the small segment could not support demand. In some countries, some recovery was seen in the adhesives sector for end-use in shoes in end Q2.
In Q2 the tightness resulting from a force majeure and reduced availability of SBA at another European producer was offset by a rise in imports from Asia. Supply quickly re-balanced in April due also to a slump in demand on the continent after a long spell of tightness throughout Q1.
The effect of pandemic-induced shutdowns in the automotive and paints and coatings manufactures downstream hit its fullest force in May, with buying interest ground to a halt after a surge in demand in March which lasted well into April on the back of some stock-piling and continued exceptional demand from printing inks and adhesives used in food (but not only) packaging. June saw a continuation of May’s low levels and some were by then saying they had not seen the market so quiet in decades.
We offer the following regional Methyl ethyl ketone analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Methyl ethyl ketone marketplace.
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The main application for methyl-ethyl ketone (MEK) is as a low-boiling solvent for nitrocellulose, acrylic and vinyl surface coatings.
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).