Fatty Methyl Ester Sulfonate (FMES) is an anionic surfactant obtained from palm oil. It is derived by the esterification of fatty acid present in palm oil, followed by sulfonation. Methyl ester of palm oil fatty acid is sulfonated by sulfur trioxide to produce FMES. The number of carbon atoms present in the fatty acid varies from 12 to 18. The property of FMES to act as a potential surfactant depends on the carbon chain length. FMES with 16 carbon chain length shows the highest level of performance, followed by 18 and 12 carbon chain lengths.
FMES is used widely as detergent in industries, as it offers physiochemical properties that enable it to act as washing agent. It exhibits high detergency and calcium ion stability. FMES functions as an excellent emulsifier and softening agent. It is used in soap, household detergents, liquid detergents, slurry, etc. Usage of FMES modifies the viscosity of paste detergent and slurry washing powder. Furthermore, FMES is employed in industrial and institutional cleaners. Personal care and detergent industries are the major end-users of FMES. Additionally, FMES can be employed in oilfield chemicals. Sodium salt of FMES can also act as an emulsifying agent in the plastic industry. It is used as release agent in rubber and printing inks industries. FMES is environment friendly, as it is obtained from natural sources such as palm oil and coconut oil.
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The global FMES market is projected to expand significantly in the next few years. Asia Pacific has been dominating the market for FMES of late due to growth in the personal care industry in developing countries such as China, India, Thailand, and South Korea. The FMES market in the region is estimated to expand at a fast paced CAGR during the forecast period. Expansion of personal care and textiles segments is likely to play a key role in the growth of the FMES market in Asia Pacific in the near future. North America also held substantial share of the global FMES market in 2014. Strong market for personal care products in developed countries such as the U.S. and Canada boosted demand for FMES in 2014. The FMES market in North America is anticipated to experience steady growth during the forecast period. Latin America and Middle East & Africa are expected to be the emerging markets for FMES in the near future. Developing countries such as Brazil and Saudi Arabia are anticipated to be the potential markets for FMES during the forecast period, owing to strong demand from the personal care industry. The FMES market in Latin America and Middle East & Africa is expected to register rapid CAGR during the forecast period.
Rise in per capita income in developing countries such as India, China, and Brazil is likely to boost the market for FMES in the next few years. Increase in consumer awareness and rapid urbanization in these developing countries are projected to propel the market for personal care products and laundry products. This, in turn, is anticipated to drive the demand of FMES in these end-user industries. Furthermore, usage of FMES is increasing in several end-user industries owing to its environmental sustainability and biodegradability. Extraction of FMES from inexpensive and renewable sources enables it to be a potential alternative for linear alkyl benzene sulfonate, its counterpart. Rising awareness about the usage of environment-friendly products in developing regions coupled with cost effectiveness is the key driver of the global FMES market. However, usage of FMES in liquid detergent is limited. This is anticipated to hamper market growth during the forecast period. However, extensive research and development efforts are expected to offer new opportunities in the market.
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Some of the key manufacturers of FMES include Chemithon Corporation, Lion Corporation (S) Pte Ltd, Wilmar International Ltd., P&G Chemicals, KLK OLEO, Krishi Oils Limited, Fenchem, and China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec).