Maleic Anhydride is a colorless, organic and crystalline compound and has an acrid odor. It is an acid anhydride manufactured from oxidation of benzene and other aromatic compounds. However, some manufacturing plants prefer to produce maleic anhydride through vapor oxidation of n-butane. Maleic anhydride’s manufacturing process is achieved by integration of four unit processes namely: Catalyst Packed Bed Packer, Absorption Tower, Maleic Acid Reactor and Distillation Column. Key application areas of maleic anhydride include production of unsaturated polyester resin, 1,4 Butanediol, additives such as oil, lubricants, copolymers and others which include personal care products and artificial sweeteners. Increasing demand of unsaturated resins, strong demand of BDO, growth in lubricant market is expected to remain as a key driver for the market in few years. Unsaturated resins display properties such as favorable service temperatures, low manufacturing cost and weight which lead to increased demand in end user applications such as corrosion resistant tanks, paints and coatings, fiberglass reinforced plastics, electrical and electronics, radar domes, furniture and general construction. However, the volatility in crude oil prices is expected to restrict the market of maleic anhydride as benzene is derived from crude oil. Additionally, the surging demand of bio-based chemicals which replace petro-based maleic anhydride meant for production of BDO and unsaturated polyester resins is expected to be a potential restraint for the market in future. However, this can be avoided by research and development initiatives for manufacturing of bio-based maleic anhydride derived from non-crude oil sources such as vegetable oils and animal fats by key market players such as Myriant. The Chinese market is expected to show significant growth owing to increased imports due to favorable government policies. The current market for maleic anhydride has low degree of consolidation due to presence of a number of companies in the market.
Approximately 50% of maleic anhydride is used for the manufacturing of unsaturated polyester resin making it the largest application segment. Increase in end use applications of unsaturated resins such as automotive, marine and construction industry which includes tanks, pipes and bathroom fixtures is expected to maintain the market share for this segment. The demand is expected to increase over the period owing to the increasing demand of automobiles in the recent years coupled with increasing infrastructural developments in housing sector in Asia-Pacific region such as China and India. Maleic anhydride is used as a raw material for the manufacturing of BDO. This application segment is expected to show grow significantly due to surging demand of polyurethanes, coatings, elastic fibers, Polybutylene Terepthalate (PBT) in automotive and other end-use industries. The increasing automobile demand along with industrial developments in emerging markets will boost the oil and lubricant additives segment. Other applications of maleic anhydride include artificial sweeteners and flavour enhancements in the food and beverage industry.
Asia-Pacific dominated the maleic anhydride market in the year 2012 with 52% of global market share. The increasing infrastructural developments coupled with increasing automobile sales in Asia-Pacific augmented the growth of its use as unsaturated polyester resins, BDO and lubricant additives in the recent years. Government policies in China regarding imports and foreign direct investment are expected to drive the market for Asia-Pacific. Asia-Pacific market is expected to retain its market share over the forecasted period owing to further expansion as well as new plant establishments in the region. North America and Europe accounted for 30% of the global market share.
The maleic anhydride market is highly fragmented with the top 5 companies accounting for less than 25% of the market in 2013. These key players include DSM N.V, Huntsman Corporation, Ashland Chemical Co, Nippon Shokubai Co Ltd, Polynt SpA, Flint Hills Resources and Lanxess AG.