According to the leading suppliers of acrylic acid, the annual demand growth will stay at the level of 5% in the coming years. However, according some experts, this growth by 2009 may be lower, not more than 3.5% per annum. They predict the following demand growth figures for various segments of acrylic acid consumption: 3.6% per year for acrylates and 5% per year for superabsorbents.
Despite the fact that many companies decided to postpone or abandon the construction of new production facilities, some units will be commissioned in the coming years. Thus, BASF plans to increase its existing production capacities for acrylic acid and superabsorbent polymers (SAP) in Antwerp and for butylacrylate in Ludwigshafen. The decision came in response to existing as well as new long-term supplier agreements, in most cases with strategic customers. BASF intends to use latest technology to improve its competitiveness and strengthen its global market leadership in this area.
According to Gerard E. Tarzia, Rohm and Haas vice president and business unit director, acrylic acid is one of the fastest growing commodity chemicals, with worldwide demand increasing at about four percent per year. He indicates that fuelled by its use in everything from water-based paints and sealants to super-absorbent polymers and detergent additives, a new world-scale 2-propenoic acid plant must be built every year, on average, to keep up with demand. And with worldwide demand for acrylic acid at about 7.5 billion pounds, the cost savings alone by using a significantly less expensive key raw material would revolutionize the industry. Currently, the largest plants of acrylic acid belong to "Rohm and Haas" (Deer Park, USA) - 580 thous. ton/year and "BASF" (Ludwigshafen, Germany) - 270 thous. ton/year.
Russia is devoid of modern and ecologically-safe production of Acroleic acid and its products. The Russian market demand for acrylic products is covered, though not fully, thanks to import. According to some experts, the demand for acrylic acid and its derivatives in Russia is 10,000-15,000mt/y. In the next 9 years, "Acrylat" JSC, the largest Russian manufacturer of acrylic acid, will invest $450-500m in the development of the acrylic complex in order to raise production capacity to 60K mt/y of vinylformic acid. Current capacity of acrylic complex in Dzerzhinsk is 25K mt/y of acrylic acid of "E" grade (0.5% of world output), 4.5K mt/y of methyl acrylate, 31K mt/y of butylacrylate.
According to the European Basic Acrylic Monomer Group (EBAM), acrylic esters are the main product derived from propenoic acid. They account for 55% of global demand. Ethylenecarboxylic acid serves as an industrial intermediate product, i.e. it is either processed directly into a polyacrylate or polymerised via the intermediate stage of an acrylate ester. Furthermore, acrylic acid is used as an ingredient and occurs as residual monomer in consumer products like adhesives, paints, binding agents and printing inks.
About half of the crude acroleic acid is processed to purified (glacial) acrylic acid, which is further processed both on-site (captive use) and by external downstream users. The other half of crude propenoic acid is transformed into various acrylate esters at the production sites. Identical to glacial Vinylformic acid, these acrylic esters serve as commercial products, which are further processed both on-site and by external downstream users. Glacial acrylic acid is used in the manufacture of superabsorbing polymers (SAP), which account for 32% of the global demand for acrylic acid.
Acrylic acid and basic alkyl esters (methyl, ethyl, butyl and 2-ethylhexyl esters) are used for the manufacture of polymer dispersions, adhesives, super absorbent polymers, flocculants, detergents, varnishes, fibres and plastics as well as chemical intermediates.
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