Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) is primarily used as a fuel additive in the gasoline engines owing to its high oxygen content raising property. It also helps in complete combustion of fuel and reducing knocking within the engine which in turn improves the life span of the machine. The use of MTBE in fuel also helps in reducing emissions from motor vehicles. Apart from that the abovementioned applications, MTBE is used in medical applications to dissolve gallstones. MTBE can be further processed to obtain isobutylene. Isobutylene is used to manufacture butyl rubber, polyisobutylene and methyl methacrylate (MMA), which are used in numerous end-use industries such as automotive, industrial manufacturing ans electronics. Refining companies are favoring the use of MTBE as fuel additive due to economic viability and excellent blending properties.
MTBE is an organic compound which is colorless, volatile and flammable in nature. MTBE is produced by chemical reaction between methanol and isobutylene. It is majorly used as an anti-knocking agent and as an octane booster in the fuel for gasoline engines. Growth of the automotive industry in the Asian markets is expected to resulting in an increasing demand for MTBE. In addition, growing demand for gasoline and gasoline additives in oil & gas and marine sectors is expected to augment demand for MTBE. However, presence of stringent regulations regarding ground water contamination on account of gasoline leakages containing MTBE is expected to be a key restraining factor for market growth.
Asia Pacific was the largest market for MTBE in 2013 and the trend is expected to continue over the forecast period. India, China and Japan were major consumers of MTBE in the region owing to the presence of numerous vehicles in the region. Less stringent policies for environmental protection and cost effectiveness of MTBE is the key driver for MTBE in this region. South American countries such as Brazil have a high potential growth in the forecast period owing to the upcoming refinery sector in the region, which requires MTBE as an anti-knocking agent to reduce wear and tear in heavy-duty machinery. U.S., Canada and the European Union have restricted the use of MTBE due to the hazards to ground water and are favoring use of bio-based fuel additives.
The market for MTBE is fragmented in nature, with good potential for growth in the emerging economies of Asia Pacific and Latin America. The key players in the MTBE market include SABIC, Huntsman Corporation, Panjin Hayen Industrial Group, LyondollBasell Industries, Zhenhai Refining & Chemical, Reliance Industries Ltd., Oxeno Antewerpen, and Petronas.
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