The global BDO market size was estimated at USD 4.06 billion in 2014. This chemical is primarily used to produce tetrahydrofuran, polybutylene terepthalate, GBL, polyurethane and solvents among other downstream chemicals. The product is being increasingly used in drug formulations, which has attracted numerous legislative actions and regulations regarding the chemical’s safe usage. Butanediol applications find utilization as fibers, engineering plastics, medicines, cosmetics, artificial leather, pesticides, plasticizers, and hardeners.
A major 1,4-butanediol derivative, THF, undergoes catalyzed polymerization to form polytetramethylene ether glycol (PTMEG). The product is a white waxy solid which is further used to produce polymers such as TPU, polyesters, polyamides, urethane elastomers, COPE. However, one of the largest uses of PTMEG lies in the production of spandex/elastene/lyrcra fiber, which finds uses in various end-uses that range from textiles to automotive interiors. In 2014, the global PTMEG market size was valued at USD 2.72 billion.
In terms of value chain, BDO acts as a primary feedstock in the production process of elastene, with PTMEG as the intermediate chemical. Globally, spandex was valued at USD 2.09 billion with China accounting for nearly 30% of its volume in 2014.
Global BDO-PTMEG-Spandex industry is regulated by various agencies with policies & regulations ranging from environmental to economical. Major regulatory policymakers that command industry dynamics include the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), European Commission, REACH, and European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
EPA has regulations framed under the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) to combat emissions from production processes. Since these products and their downstream chemicals are carcinogenic in nature, they adversely affect the environment and organic health. EPA regulations are aimed at restricting their production, usage, and exposure to humans & the environment.
U.S. PTMEG market volume by application, 2012-2022 (Kilo Tons)
On the basis of application, the industry for BDO has been segmented into tetrahydrofuran, polybutylene terephthalate, gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), and polyurethanes among other niche applications such as solvents and drug formulations. THF was the largest derivative/application and accounted for nearly half of the global volume in 2014.
Applications analyzed for polytetramethylene ether glycol include spandex, copolyester elastomers (COPE), and urethanes. Spandex was the leading application segment accounting for over 75% of the overall revenue in 2014. The latter’s increasing scope in textiles, hygiene products, medical wear and automotive interiors shall be instrumental in driving overall growth.
Textiles segment was the leading application/end-use for elastene, which was followed by medical & hygiene accounting for 22.6% of its volume in 2014. Increasing awareness regarding preventive healthcare and rising safety & hygiene standards in medical facilities, particularly in developing countries, is expected to complement the application’s growth over the forecast period. Automotive interior remains a lucrative application and is slated to account for 17.8% of the global volume by 2022.
North America accounted for 17%, 11.6% and 11.3% of BDO, PTMEG and spandex global volumes in 2014 respectively. The region is characterized by adherent regulatory policies aimed at environment and human health. Presence of corporations with advanced production technologies and a robust patent landscape is also expected to act as a determinant for the region’s dynamics.
Butanediol is increasingly used for THF and polyurethane products in region. The U.S. though is a larger consumer in the region, it is expected to lose share to Mexico, which is touted as the region’s high growth potential avenue.
Asia Pacific on the other hand dominated the global scenario as the largest consumer and revenue generating region. The region’s major demand spurring countries, China and India, are expected to play a vital role in shaping Asia Pacific growth trends.
With manufacturing in these countries picking pace, end-use industries such as textiles, hygiene products, automotive are expected to spur spandex consumption. Over the recent past, Southeast Asian countries have witnessed a tremendous boost in textiles production, particularly sports apparel and outdoor wear, thus establishing them as fastest demand generating markets.
The global BDO-PTMEG-Spandex market share is dominated by highly integrated companies with capabilities extended from butanediol production as a feedstock to manufacturing elastene fibers for end-users. By positioning themselves throughout the value chain, these companies enjoy a distinct advantage of serving diverse application segments other than those pertaining to the value chain.
Major companies operating globally include BASF, Dairen Chemicals, LyondellBasell, Shanxi Sanwei Group, DuPont, Ashland and Invista. Major spandex suppliers and distributors include Gold Pacific, AB Textile Mills, Dynamic Fabric Trading and Sultani Elasto.
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