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 Q4 2020
Supply was a little tight on the Chinese side, as producers kept low inventories and also scaled back production during the winter period on limited feedstock. An ongoing maintenance at a Japanese plant until late Q4 and production issues at another major Japanese plant also supported the tight situation. On the flip side, most importers did not feel tightness in their local markets, blaming it on slow demand due to the pandemic.
Market players deemed demand to be mostly steady, with some pockets of slowness. However, as importers were still regularly booking new orders/shipments, the market was quite stable. Some importers had to look to China for extra cargoes as their regular supplier could not fulfil new orders due to feedstock issues. This situation was easily solved. Some markets like Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea saw a slight revival as downstream plants restocked on new end-use orders.
Supply tightened in Q4 on two production hiccups, which followed each other in October and November. Imports from China were slower to arrive, keeping supply snug while exports remained steady. Imports from other regions have continued coming in.
Demand was pronouncedly firmer in Q4 on a pick-up in the automotive and furniture sectors. However, some applications such as printing inks for outlets in the entertainment industry have not recovered from the pandemic. The food packaging sector has garnered momentum since Q2. Industrial uses such as cleaning solvents picked up in H2 2020.
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).