Phthalic anhydride (PA) is a chemical intermediate and is mainly used as a catalyst in the manufacturing of plasticizers. It is an organic compound produced by the oxidation of orthoxylene or naphthalene. Key application of phthalic anhydride includes production of phthalate plasticizers for making polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is further used on a large scale in construction and automobile industry. The other significant applications of phthalic anhydride include unsaturated polyester resins (UPR), alkyd resins, pigments and dyes among others.
The revenue generated by the global PA market was USD 6,465.1 million in 2012 which is expected to grow to USD 9,589.8 million by 2019, growing at a CAGR of 5.8% from 2013 to 2019. Phthalate plasticizers are the largest application segment for the PA market followed by unsaturated polyester resins and alkyd resins. The other growing applications of PA include dyes and pigments, herbicides and insecticides, detergents, saccharin, fire retardants and polyester resin cross-linking agents.
Automobiles, construction, land and marine transportation are the major end users of PA. Automobile and construction dominated the global PA consumption and the positive growth in this industry across the globe is driving the PA market. The rise in the consumption of polyvinyl chloride in the automobile and construction industry is driving the demand for phthalate plasticizers which is propelling the growth in PA market. However, alkyd resin market is the most attractive application in the PA market owing to strong growth prospects.
The demand for phthalic anhydride has been driven by strong global demand for phthalate plasticizers. The phthalate plasticizers market dominated the demand for PA and accounted for 56.5% of the global volume consumed in 2012. Growing demand from the phthalate plasticizers market and strong demand from Asia Pacific has remained the major growth driver for the PA market. UPR is another important outlet for PA, which accounted for 18.1% share of the total PA volume consumed in 2012. The growing demand of phthalate plasticizers in the production of polyvinyl chloride and unsaturated polyester resins in the manufacturing of fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) is expected to drive the global PA market in the next six years.
The global PA market is segmented based on geography. Asia Pacific represents the largest and the most important market for the PA industry. In the recent past, PA market was driven by emerging nations such as China, India and Brazil. The PA market witnessed significant decline in demand due to the global economic slowdown during 2008 and 2009. However, the PA market has witnessed steady rise in demand since 2010 due to the upsurge in end user industries following the revival of the global economy. Moreover, ever rising demand for phthalate plasticizers in PVC applications is expected to trigger demand for PA in the automobile and construction industry.
Plasticizers which are produced by using phthalic anhydride as a raw material are known as phthalate plasticizers. Non-phthalate plasticizers are produced from esters based on acids which do not contain impurities of phthalic anhydride. Global consumption of lower-molecular-weight phthalates used for manufacturing of plasticizers is expected to decline in many regions due to replacement, mostly by non-phthalates. The main cause for this replacement can be attributed to the advantages offered by non-phthalate plasticizers over their phthalate counterparts.
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The raw materials for manufacturing phthalic anhydride are provided by petrochemical companies. Integration is a striking feature of the market and different large petrochemical companies integrate forward into manufacturing of phthalates and plasticizers. Exxon Mobil Corporation and BASF SE are among the key companies with significant level of integration across the value chain that manufacture phthalic anhydride along with its raw materials and application products. UPC Technology Corporation, Aekyung Petrochemical Co. Ltd., Exxon Mobil Corporation, BASF SE and Polynt SPA are some of the major manufacturers of phthalic anhydride.