The global methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) market was valued at USD 2.56 billion in 2015 and is anticipated to reach USD 4.01 billion by 2024. Methyl-ethyl-ketone (MEK) is a colourless and a harsh smelling carbon-based compound. It is commonly identified as butanone. It is characterized by outstanding chemical properties including high viscosity, low boiling point, high solvency and high evaporation rate owing to which it is used as a solvent across several applications. This liquid has a sweet smell indicated the presence of acetone and butterscotch, hence is produced on a large scale in the industries. Photo-oxidation of air pollutants such as hydrocarbons and butane results in the form of MEK. It is widely used in industrial applications as it is easily soluble in water. The primary usage of MEK is as a solvent in processes involving gums cellulose acetate, resins and cellulose nitrate. Other end use applications where MEK is used include domestic products such as lacquer and varnishes, synthetic rubber, paraffin wax and glues as well as paint remover.
MEK is a liquid solvent used in chemical intermediates, adhesives, printing inks, magnetic tapes and lube oil dewaxing processes. Solvent is suitable for surface coatings that help in reducing emissions from its highly efficiency and versatility. It is used in chemical manufacturing, particularly for drugs and cosmetics. Other uses of MEK include surgical instruments sterilization and vegetable oil extraction. MEK market is expected to be driven in the foreseeable future by its widespread use in industrial sectors including feedstock and intermediate chemical applications such as additives in furniture polishes, rubber based cement, pharmaceuticals and PVC piping applications.
MEK is acts as a natural component in foods, a wide assortment of cheeses, beans, honey, chicken and apple juice. MEK is also found in drinking water and surface water at numerous sites. One can also come I contact with MEK through contact with household products which contains chemicals or even at the workplace. The quantity, frequency and length of exposure can affect the health of a person. Effects can vary from irritation and headaches to severe damage to skin and nervous system. However, with strict government regulations and rising environmental concerns, the market is expected to experience a downturn as MEK has been marked for its harmful nature in Toxic Substances Control Act by EPA among others. Secondary challenges that can hamper market growth include presence of substitute compounds and raw material price sensitivity.
The global MEK market is led by a few manufacturers, particularly based out of China. Despite this, the MEK demand is anticipated to be comparatively slow. Nonetheless, its global supply is expected to rise considerably after the revival of Asia’s leading facility situated in China that had been closed down in 2011 due to damages caused by earthquakes.
The compound is used as a solvent in various applications and primarily in paints& coatings and printing inks owing to its properties such as low boiling points and low viscosity. Other applications include rubber-based industrial cement, textiles, plastics, cleaning agents and PVC piping. In the pharmaceutical industry, MEK is used in resins and thinners that are applied as lacquers/solvents. In addition, MEK peroxides are used as a catalytic agent in the polymerization process of polyester resins. Global demand for MEK is driven by the rising demand for paints and coatings from furniture, automobile and infrastructural industries.
The higher solvency and lower density of ketones compared to the corresponding ester substitutes contribute to reduced VOC content just by changing to ketone solvents such as MEK. Owing to the dual functionality, MEK has slow evaporation rate, complete solubility in water and high solvent strength which gives it a unique advantage as a solvent in water-based coatings.
For achieving stable production rates and minimizing operational challenges in the production system of MEK, the primary areas requiring attention are Instrumentation and metallurgy in process control parameters, scheduled maintenance and Inspection and acid handling areas.
The global market is segmented into four regions: North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Row. Asia Pacific is expected to dominate the MEK industry and emerge as the market leader. This can be attributed to the steady growth in paints &coatings market resulting from heavy consumption in manufacturing and construction industries. The European market is anticipated to experience uniform growth trends on account of stringent regulations and increasing concerns regarding health and fitness which are restraining the use of methyl ethyl ketone in this region. Market demand in the U.S is projected to be stable, and the declining prices are expected to further increase its demand in the coming years.
Key participants of the methyl ethyl ketone market include Arkema S.A., Shell Chemicals, Exxon Mobil, Sasol Solvents, Maruzen Petrochemical Co Ltd., SK Energy Co Ltd., Petro China, Lanzhou Petrochemicals and Idemitsu Kosan Co. Ltd.
Global Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) Application Outlook (Volume, Kilo Tons; Revenue, USD Million, 2014 - 2024)
• Paints & coatings
• Printing Inks
Global Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) Regional Outlook (Volume, Kilo Tons; Revenue, USD Million, 2014 - 2024)
• North America
• Asia Pacific
• Middle East and Africa
• Saudi Arabia
• Central & South America
Research Support Specialist, USA