Acrolein, also known as 2-propenal is the simplest unsaturated aldehyde. It’s a colourless liquid and exhibits a disagreeable acrid smell.. Acrolein is manufactured from petrochemical feedstocks such as propylene and glycerine. Acrolein is primarily used as an important intermediate and a specialty chemical. Acrolein is rapidly gaining importance due to its versatile use in plastic and paint industries. One of the most widely used industrial methods of preparing acrolein involves catalytic oxidation of propylene in presence of air. Further, there is emerging trend of usage of glycerine and propane as alternative feedstocks for acrolein. The global demand for acrolein markets are estimated to show a considerable transformation depending on its raw material requirements and its ultimate uses. The U.S. and Asia Pacific regions are estimated to lead the acrolein market by 2020.
Few of the key drivers affecting the acrolein markets demand are engineering plastic and polymer industries, followed by agrochemicals. Acrolein is majorly used as a key intermediate to prepare acrylic acid and methionin. Acrylic acid polymers are largely consumed in preparation of emulsifiers, coatings and adhesives. Moreover, they are also used as super-absorbing agents in diapers and hygienic pads. Direct use of acrolein is employed as a specialty chemical such as a biocide. This acrolein based biocide is used to control algal growth, submerged and floating weeds in irrigation canals. It is also used as biocide, in oil industries in drilling waters, as well as, a scavenger for hydrogen sulfide and mercaptants.
However, taking some key challenges in mind, the global scenario for acrolein market is estimated to show a considerable change in the region wise economies accordingly. Acrolein production is currently dependent on the crude oil feedstocks. These feedstocks are not only used in energy production but, also in the petrochemical industry.. This has resulted in fluctuations in crude oil based propylene prices, uncertain glycerol availability and depletion of resources which are expected to hinder the growth of the acrolein market over the next few years.
Sustainable approach is being taken by various regions to cope up with the problem of depleting crude oil sources estimated in the near future. Biobased glycerol is now being used as an alternative feedstock to produce acrolein, so as to minimize the dependency on natural resources. In addition, use of new catalysts is done to achieve better acrolein yields. Thus, biobased glycerol and catalyst markets are expected to improve during the forecast period, which can be considered as an opportunity for the regions with depleting oil sources.
In terms of global demand, the U.S., Europe and Japan are at present the largest producers of Acrolein. Considering the intermediate chemicals sector, the U.S. is estimated to show a fast growth over the coming years, in terms of export and trade of acrolein, followed by Europe and Japan. China will be the leading importer owing to its constantly growing plastic markets. India, will be next in line from Asia Pacific region, due to its steadily rising paints and polymer markets. The U.S. is the largest importer of acrolein biocide, while the rest of Asia Pacific countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam have potential biocide markets. Indonesia, might lead in the South East Asia region due to low labour and manufacturing costs. Over the forecasted period, Europe is slated to show an overall decline as it has a matured market. Rest of the World is anticipated to show potential growth for the acrolein market, especially from countries such as Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Argentina among others. Demand in this region is owing to rise in demand from paints & coatings and polymer industry.
Some of the major players across the globe are Akzo Nobel N.V., The Dow Chemicals Company, Shanghai Huachen Energy Company, Ltd. and The Shell Oil Company.