Glycerol is a sweet, colorless, viscous, sugar polyol compound displaying hygroscopic and soluble properties. Also called as glycerine/ glycerin, it is a core component of all triglycerides. Glycerols can be synthetic or natural based depending on the raw materials used for its production. Transesterification, hydrolysis, and saponification are a few glycerol production processes. Glycerol is widely used in many consumer products due to its non-toxicity and nutrition values. Its applications range from food sweeteners and preservatives to antifreeze chemicals and explosives, largely dependent on its chemical properties. Mainstream application of biofuels and increased demand for oleochemicals are expected to drive the supply of glycerol market. Growth in healthcare technologies is expected to help in the expansion of this market. Its potential as a platform chemical for renewable chemicals production hold scope as alternate options are explored for economical feasibility. Uncertain feedstock supply may restrain the growth of the market. Low margins for refining processes may further hinder the market growth. Industry subsidies and unstable government legislations affect the profitability of glycerol market, challenging glycerol market growth.
Earlier, glycerol was primarily obtained by synthetic processes. However, biodiesel has become a major source of glycerol over the recent years. This can be attributed to the evolution of transesterification process i.e. the process of using biodiesel/ fatty alcohol for glycerol production. Also, synthetic processes are considered economically infeasible when considered for large scale production. Being a by-product of biodiesel, glycerol supply has risen with increased exploration of biodiesel options. Hydrolysis of fatty acids and saponification are other methods of natural glycerol production.
Personal care is a major application segment for glycerol market. Glycerol is widely used in many skin products for its nutritive value and healing properties. In addition, its laxative and sweet tasting features, it is incorporated in many health products. The increase in demand for these products as a result of improved lifestyle and awareness are key factors in driving the growth of this segment. The growing paints and coatings industry also demands glycerol input in the form of alkyd resins as feedstock. Polyether polyols segment has also been growing with the increase in the use of low-calorie sweeteners in food products such as chewing gums. This is due to its property of being unaffected by bacteria activity causing tooth decay. Other applications of glycerol include food preserving, perfume production, tobacco humectants, pharmaceuticals, explosive production, etc.
Glycerol holds potential as a chemical platform for the renewable production of chemicals. It provides an economical and environmentally friendly alternative. Propylene Glycol, Epichlorohydrin, and 1-3 propanediol are few chemicals that have undergone processes of being manufactured from glycerols.
Europe has been a dominant consumer of glycerol market due to high demand in segments of personal care, pharmaceuticals, and food & beverages. Use of glycerol as a raw material is on the rise for the production of epichlorohydrin and propylene glycol. China’s consumption levels are expected to increase with an increase in production of epichlorohydrin from glycerol. With its developed paints and coatings market, Middle East regions’ demand for glycerol is expected to be considerable for alkyd resins and allied products. With increased adoption of pharmaceutical and cosmetic products containing glycerol, the global demand will experience significant growth.
The glycerol market consists of many major as well as minor participant companies. A few of these participants are Cognis Corporation (U.S.), Sofiprotéol Group (France), Wilmar International (Singapore), Procter & Gamble Chemicals (U.S.), Solvay SA (Belgium), Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (Malaysia), Godrej Industries Ltd. (India), Dow Chemical Company (U.S.), IOI Oleochemical Industries Berhad (Malaysia), Archer Daniel Midland (U.S.), Croda International Plc. (UK), United Coconut Chemicals, Inc. (Philippines), Pacific Oleochemicals Sdn Bhd (Malaysia), Pt Flora Sawita Chemindo (Indonesia), Sakamoto Yakuhin Kogyo Company Ltd. (Japan), Kao Corporation (Japan), Pt Cisadane Raya Chemicals (Indonesia), Twin Rivers Technologies, Inc. (U.S), Sumi Asih Oleochemical Industry (China), Kashima Chemical Co., Ltd. (Japan), Dial Corporation (U.S.), Cremer Gruppe (Germany), Emery Oleochemicals LLC (U.S.), Vitusa Product (U.S.), etc.
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