Compounds having at least one hydroxyl (-OH) group attached to a single bonded alkane is referred to as alcohol. There are numerous types of alcohol being used in varied applications across industries. Some of the popular types of alcohol are ethanol, methanol, butanol, pentanol, ethylene glycol, sorbitol and xylitol among many others. The market for alcohol is vast and it is used in many applications, the most common being in alcoholic beverages, as solvents, fuel, preservatives, antifreeze and antiseptics. Alcohol can be produced by a variety of methods including oxo processes, hydration reactions and through biological fermentation.
Methanol is another important type of alcohol, which has witnessed extraordinary demand growth from several sectors. It is commonly used as an intermediate to produce formaldehyde used in automotive, pharmaceutical, resins and wood industry. It is also the intermediate chemical for other chemicals such as methyl methacrylate, methyl chloride, dimethyl terepthalate, and acetic acid among others. Methyl methacrylate is used to manufacture LED and LCD of electronic devices and as cement in total hip replacements and total knee replacements.
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Methyl chloride is primarily used to manufacture silicone which is used widely to produce adhesives, sealants, lubricants and in certain medical applications. Dimethyl terephthalate is used to manufacture recyclable plastic bottles and acetic acid is used in a wide array of industries such as paints and coatings, adhesives and fleece. The methanol market is driven by the expanding horizons of its application and high growth in the end use industries. Most of the other alcohols are used in different industries as feed stocks. Ethylene glycol finds application as antifreeze in low temperature regions and applications.
Ethanol is one of the most used alcohol type in the world. The global demand for ethanol exceeds 100 billion liters of which more than 80% are used as fuel. Ethanol is considered as renewable fuel and a potential substitute for gasoline. The wide acceptance of ethanol fuel is the driver for this market. The demand for ethanol as fuel is particularly high in the U.S, Europe and Brazil. The demand is expected to pick up in Asia Pacific as well. Ethanol is also used in alcoholic beverages, in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other industrial applications. Ethanol is used as an antiseptic to disinfect the skin before injections and other invasive procedures. It is also commonly used as soaps and hand sanitizers due to its volatile nature.
The overall alcohol market is expected to grow at a fast pace, due to its application in so many industries in different forms. The main opportunity lies with ethanol due to its application as automotive fuel which is expected to grow exponentially with growing automotive industry. Alcoholic drinks are another favorable market for ethanol, as it is the main psychoactive constituent in the beverages. The global alcoholic beverage demand has increased substantially over the past few years and is expected to rise especially in Asia Pacific region.
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Some of the key players operating in the alcohol market are Methanex Corporation, Aventine Renewable Energy-Pekin, Absolute Energy LLC, and Glacial Lakes Energy LLC among many others.