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 Q3 2020
Production at major suppliers remained more or less constant in Q3. Because of weak domestic demand in China, local smaller plants were shut. However, this did not impact the overall market. Inventories on the buyers’ side also remained more or less balanced, even as some buyers delayed new commitments.
Demand was at a lull during the summer season, with downstream plants shut or running at reduced rates, especially in northeast Asia. There was a little pick-up in the downstream paints and coatings sector, particularly in China, for a short period of time, as the government rolled out a stimulus to help boost the economy. However, in the long run, demand was unable to sustain, and China thus had to push for more exports.
Imports from Asia arrived in unprecedented amounts in Q3 as a result of a global demand slump from the automotive sector and the need for the region get rid of length. A prolonged maintenance at a European plant had significantly reduced availability in Q2, supporting the arbitrage window from Asia. Adjustments at refineries on the C4 stream to reflect abated gasoline and jet fuel demand tightening supply of MEK feedstock in Q2 ceased as lockdowns ended, relaxing availability.
Car manufactures restarts in Q3 have been incremental and on very small scales after shutdowns globally in Q2 amid coronavirus-related lockdowns. Paints and coatings applications of MEK have been missing their main outlet and have barely been supported by the construction sector or the momentum in do-it-yourself (DIY) activity throughout the summer. Printing inks were also hard-hit in Q3. Adhesives for furniture assembly saw a quicker recovery.
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).