Ethoxylates are organic compounds that are manufactured by treatment of alcohols and phenols with ethylene oxide in the presence of potassium hydroxide as a catalyst. Ethoxylates are used as intermediates during the manufacture of detergents, surface cleaners, cosmetics, and paints. Textile processing, paints & coatings, agriculture, pulp & paper, and personal care industries are the major end-users of ethoxylates. Ethoxylates are used widely in industrial applications due to high water solubility, good formulation, low aquatic toxicity, and excellent wetting ability. Furthermore, ethoxylates are used as emulsion stabilizers during the processing of emulsion polymers, floor polish, and wax, as they rapidly dissolve and provide ionic stability to the emulsion. Alcohol ethoxylate, fatty acid ethoxylate, and methyl ester ethoxylate are some of the major products of ethoxylate.
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Demand for ethoxylates is driven by growth of textile processing, personal care, and paints & coatings industries. Ethoxylates are used as surfactants for various process operations such as scouring, dyeing, and lubrication in the textile processing industry. Ethoxylates help remove impurities during scouring of fibers to ensure good quality of the fabric. After scouring, the fabric is lubricated for elimination of fat. This fat elimination is achieved by employing ethoxylate, which helps reduce the surface tension. Dyeing and finishing is the last process operation of textile manufacturing that employs ethoxylate as a wetting and dyeing agent. Fatty acid ethoxylates are exclusively used in the textile industry.
The cosmetic & personal care end-user industry is another major driving factor that is expected to influence the demand for ethoxylates in the near future. Ethoxylates are incorporated as solvents during preparation of cosmetic products, as they provide high water solubility and emulsifying characteristics. Ethoxylates are non-ionic in nature and offer high chemical stability; hence, these are preferred over other ionic surfactants that do not dissolve in water. Various personal care products that are manufactured by incorporating ethoxylates include hand lotions, hair dyes and some oral application products. Alcohol and castor oil ethoxylates are some of the commonly used ethoxylate product types used in the cosmetic & personal care industry.
Increase in environmental concerns regarding the effects of toxicity coupled with diversification of raw material feedstock by other end-users may hamper market growth. On the contrary, expansion of the household and agricultural industries, especially in developing economies, is likely to provide further opportunities for the growth of the ethoxylates market.
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In terms of global demand, Europe was the largest producer of ethoxylates in 2014. However, the market growth in Europe is expected to stabilize due to various governmental regulations by the end of 2023. North America is anticipated to depict a similar scenario, as this region has matured markets. Asia Pacific is projected to experienced fast paced growth between 2015 and 2023, due to the rise in demand for ethoxylates in household and personal care industries. Furthermore, changes in the consumer lifestyle coupled with increase in the disposable income are other important factors that are likely to fuel the demand for ethoxylates in Asia Pacific, especially in China and India. Latin America is expected to provide favorable opportunities over the next few years, owing to foreign investments and rise in the regional population. The ethoxylates market in the Middle East and Africa is anticipated to experience sluggish growth by the end of 2023.
Some of the prominent players in the global ethoxylates market include The Dow Chemical Company, Ineos Group Limited, Sasol Olefins & Surfactants GmbH, and BASF SE.