NMP is a polar aprotic solvent with good solvency with a wide range of organic and inorganic compounds. NMP has high chemical and thermal stability and is miscible in water at all temperatures. NMP production includes two key reactions: esterification and hydrogenolysis of maleic anhydride, which produces gamma-butyrolactone. In the next step, amination (a separate reaction) converts ammonia and methanol to monomethyl amine (MMA). Lastly, GBL and MMA react and yield NMP.
NMP is used in wide range applications including oil & gas, pharmaceuticals, electronics, paints & coatings, and agrochemicals. Oil & gas segment uses NMP in various applications among which butadiene recovery, BTX extraction, and lube oil purification are the major ones. Oil & gas refers to petrochemical industry, where the downstream operations (refining process) mainly consumes NMP. In oil & gas downstream operations are expected to boost in the coming years.
Global NMP market in oil & gas, by application, 2015
In pharmaceutical segment, NMP is mainly used as a solvent in drug delivery systems, as it is a very strong solubilizing agent, and also as a penetration enhancer. There are few restrictions on NMP usage where human NMP contact happens. The restrictions are mainly on dermal and oral exposure to NMP. This is expected to act as a restraint to the market. Due to the unavailability of exactly similar substitute to NMP these regulatory restrictions are expected to leave limited impact on the NMP market.
Asia has converted into a hub, with developing economies such as China and India leading the growth. New refinery projects coupled with expansion in the current ones is further fueling the refinery business in the region. However, usage of NMP in excess amount possesses several potential threats to humans. Owing to these factors, certain regulatory bodies such as EPA, ECHA have imposed restrictions on the usage of NMP in particular products over certain limits. For instance, California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has identified NMP as a reproductive toxin under Proposition 65 and established maximum allowable dose levels (MADLs) for NMP of 17,000 μg/day for dermal contact and 3,200 μg/day for inhalation exposures. Also, European Union (EU) have classified NMP as category 2 developmental toxicant. In addition, commercial use of NMP in non-cosmetic products has been restricted to 5%.
N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) is generally manufactured by reacting gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) with an excessive pure or aqueous methylamine in a high-pressure tube reactor (6-12 MPa). The nature of this reaction is exothermic and often carried out under adiabatic conditions with reactor temperatures in the range of 250 – 400 ºC. The resulting product mixture is decompressed and distilled. Through this method, NMP yield is normally more than 97%.
Companies in NMP market have a presence across the value chain. It does not signify the forward or backward integration but it denotes that companies have their own raw material supplies as well as they supply end product that is NMP to the end user. Companies have developed capacities through backward forward integration or in-house capacity development.
In-depth report on global n-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) market by Grand View Research:
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