Published August 2021
The oxo process or hydroformylation of olefins with synthesis gas is the principal route to C3-C15 aldehydes, which are converted to alcohols, acids, or other derivatives. By far the most important oxo chemical is nbutyraldehyde, followed by C6-C13 aldehydes for plasticizer alcohols, isobutyraldehyde, propionaldehyde, valeraldehyde, and C12-C18 aldehydes for detergent alcohols.
Propylene-derived n-butyraldehyde and isobutyraldehyde accounted for approximately 77% of the world consumption of oxo chemicals in 2021. High consumption volumes for both of the alcohol derivatives of nbutyraldehyde— n-butanol and 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH)—will continue in the near future, largely owing to increased consumption of both alcohols in acrylate esters, acetate esters, and plasticizers. 2-EH and n-butanol continue to account for the majority of plasticizer alcohols consumption, combining for three-quarters of the global total.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of oxo chemicals:
Asia, Europe, and North America are the largest markets for oxo chemicals, together accounting for 95% of world demand in 2021. Oxo chemicals demand in mainland China is expected to grow relatively well, albeit at a slower growth rate than in previous years. Other Asian consumption, excluding mainland China and Japan, is also expected to grow well; India and Malaysia are the main growth markets in this region. Demand for oxo chemicals in the United States is expected to grow modestly during 2021–26. Western European consumption of oxo chemicals is forecast to also grow modestly, as will Japanese consumption.
By far, most oxo aldehydes are hydrogenated to alcohols. The large majority of the world consumption of nbutyraldehyde is converted to 2-EH and n-butanol, while all of the detergent and C7-C13 plasticizer oxo aldehydes are converted to their corresponding alcohols. Other oxo chemicals, including propionaldehyde, valeraldehyde, and isobutyraldehyde, have more varied applications. As a result, demand for oxo chemicals is strongly dependent on demand for C4-C13 plasticizer alcohols. Consumption of plasticizer alcohols, especially C7-C13 alcohols, depends greatly on demand for plasticizers and flexible PVC. Growth in the world consumption of plasticizer alcohols for plasticizers is forecast at 3.2% annually during the next few years. Solvent/coating applications are the largest end use for C4-C5 alcohols; this includes direct solvent use and derivative solvent use, mainly as acetates, glycol ethers, and acrylates.
World demand for 2-EH is still dependent on plasticizers production including nonphthalate dioctyl terephthalate (DOTP) plasticizer production and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) production. Global growth in DOTP as a substitute plasticizer for DEHP will continue to support 2-EH growth worldwide. In some regions, including the United States, Asia, and Western Europe, 2-EH consumption is also dependent on the production of 2-ethylhexyl acrylate.
Other plasticizer alcohols such as isononyl alcohol (INA) and 2-propylheptanol (2-PH) will also continue to grow as plasticizers derived from these alcohols (such as hydrogenated phthalates, DINP, and DPHP) will compete and substitute with traditional plasticizers. 2-PH is derived from valeraldehyde.
Oxo chemicals are not at risk of substitution by competing products; most consumption shifts in the major derivative, plasticizer alcohols, occur among different plasticizer alcohol types derived via the oxo process.
Plasticizers are the largest market for plasticizer alcohols in most regions; acrylate/methacrylate and acetate esters are also large-volume applications for plasticizer alcohols in many regions.
Overall, world consumption of oxo chemicals will grow at an average annual rate of just over 3%.
For more detailed information, see the table of contents, shown below.
S&P Global’s Chemical Economics Handbook – Oxo Chemicals is the comprehensive and trusted guide for anyone seeking information on this industry. This latest report details global and regional information, including
S&P Global’s Chemical Economics Handbook – Oxo Chemicals has been compiled using primary interviews with key suppliers and organizations, and leading representatives from the industry in combination with S&P Global’s unparalleled access to upstream and downstream market intelligence and expert insights into industry dynamics, trade, and economics.
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