Solvents play a major role in industrial production: They can dissolve, dilute, and, in a very fine distribution, absorb other substances without changing them chemically. Solvents (sometimes also called dissolvents) are mainly used in the paints and varnishes, print inks, and adhesives industry but also, for example, as an ingredient of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and detergents. Substances that cause unpleasant odors, explosive vapors, as well as health and environmental damages are controversial and increasingly targeted by the legislature. Ceresana analyzed the global market for solvents already for the fourth time.
Paint Industry Looking for Alternatives
The largest consumers of solvents are manufacturers of paints and varnishes, followed at a considerable distance by producers of printing inks. Demand on the part of the pharmaceutical industry ranked third, followed by utilization in cosmetics and adhesives. Other important applications are chemical manufacturing processes, cooling circuits, dry-cleaning, and deicers. However, a trend away from solventborne products and towards more environmentally friendly alternatives based on water is prevailing in the segment paints and varnishes. This development has an inhibiting effect on demand for solvents.
Growing Demand in Asia
The industry in Asia-Pacific accounted for about 44 % of global demand in 2017. China dominated the market, followed at a considerable distance by Japan and India. The regions North America and Western Europe ranked second and third. Ceresana expects constantly high growth rates for Asia-Pacific. In the segments paints and varnishes, printing inks, and adhesives, this region is the major consumer. On the contrary, Western Europe and North America account for the largest demand in the segments cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Alcohols are the solvent type with the by far highest demand: especially ethanol, n-butanol, isopropanol, and methanol. The region Asia-Pacific is the largest consumer in the segment alcohols as well, with a demand of about 2.7 million tonnes, followed by North America. Besides alcohols, mainly ketones were utilized as solvents in 2017; but also aromatics, esters, and ethers hold significant market shares each. With an expected increase of 3.2 % per year, the group of ethers will be the fastest growing market.