Sulfolane is also called tetramethylene sulfone. Sulfolane is a man-made industrial solvent with good heat stability. Sulfolane is an organosulfur compound, formally a cyclic sulfone, with the formula (CH2)4SO2. Sulfolane is a colorless and transparent liquid that acts as a scrubbing agent. Sulfolane is a polar solvent and it is miscible in water. Sulfolane has flash point of approximately 165°C and autoignition temperature of 528°C. The CAS number of sulfolane is 126-33-0. Sulfolane is extensively used as a solvent in the purification of hydrocarbon mixtures. Sulfolane is commonly employed as an industrial solvent, specifically in the extraction of aromatic hydrocarbons from hydrocarbon mixtures and in the purification of natural gas. The sulfinol process purifies natural gas by removing inhibitors such as hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, and mercaptans from natural gas by using a mixture of alkanolamine and sulfolane.
Global Sulfolane Market: Segmentation
The global sulfolane market can be segmented based on type, application, and region. In terms of type, the market can be classified into anhydrous sulfolane and aqueous sulfolane. The aqueous sulfolane segment is projected to expand at a rapid pace during the forecast period. Aqueous sulfolane is mostly employed in gas desulfurization, as a pharmaceutical intermediate, and in the extraction of aromatic compounds. This is a key factor likely to drive the demand for sulfolane during the forecast period.
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In terms of application, the sulfolane market can be classified into oil & gas purification, fine chemicals, and others. The oil & gas purification segment is projected to expand at a rapid pace during the forecast period. Depleting non-renewable sources and increasing adoption of bio-fuels are estimated to drive the demand for aromatics extraction and gas desulfurization in the next few years. This is expected to boost the sulfolane market in the oil & gas purification segment during the forecast period. Sulfolane is used as an intermediate and encapsulate in generic medicines. Increasing demand for pharmaceuticals is likely to propel the demand for sulfolane during the forecast period.
Global Sulfolane Market: Regional Outlook
In terms of region, the global sulfolane market can be segmented into Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, North America, and Middle East & Africa. Middle East & Africa is expected to be remain the leading region of the global sulfolane market during the forecast period. Increasing demand for automobiles is likely to augment the demand for oil and gas. A majority of resources of natural oil and gas are located in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait. This is anticipated to drive the demand for sulfolane in Middle East & Africa during the forecast period. The sulfolane market in South Africa is expected to expand at a sluggish pace compared to that in other countries of Middle East & Africa, due to poor growth of the economy and lack of technological advancements in the country. In pharmaceutical segment, the sulfolane market in North America is expected to be high compared to the other countries due to increasing consciousness about health in the region.
Global Sulfolane Market: Key Players
The global sulfolane market is fragmented. A large number of companies operate at the global and regional levels. Major companies operating in the market are Shell Oil Company, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, Sumitomo Seika Chemical, New Japan Chemical, CASIL Industries, Liaoyang Guanghua Chemical, Liaodong Fine Chemical, Jinzhou Petrochemical Corporation, and Changle Haizhou Chemical. Sulfolane was originally developed by Shell Oil Company in the 1960s as a solvent to purify butadiene. Most companies are likely to invest in R&D activities to develop innovative products and gain traction among consumers.
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