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Published: January 2011
MDI production accounts for over 75% of world aniline consumption; other large applications include use as a chemical intermediate for rubber-processing chemicals, dyes and pigments. Since most MDI producers are captive in aniline and its precursor nitrobenzene, typically in integrated units, nearly all MDI expansions result in increased production and consumption of nitrobenzene/aniline. MDI has been the driving force behind world growth in aniline demand since 1982. Future demand for aniline will continue to depend largely on MDI requirements.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of aniline:
MDI is consumed in polyurethane (PU) foam, both rigid and flexible. Most rigid PU foam is used in construction and appliances while flexible PU foam is used primarily in furniture and transportation. As a result, consumption of nitrobenzene/aniline/MDI largely follows the patterns of the leading world economies and depends heavily on construction/remodeling activity (residential and nonresidential), automotive production and original equipment manufacture. MDI growth has been driven by "green" initiatives, sustainability and lowering CO2 emissions.
World consumption of aniline grew at an average annual rate of 3% during 2006–2010, the result of a growing global economy during 2001–2008, declines during the economic recession in 2009 and the recovery in 2010, and growth due to increased MDI capacity. Strong Asian demand for all applications of MDI boosted world demand during 2006–2010. World consumption of aniline is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of 3.8% during 2010–2015. Continuing rapid demand growth in some regions, particularly in China, Other Asia and Europe, mainly the result of continued expansion of integrated nitrobenzene/aniline/MDI units, will balance out moderate growth in markets such as the Americas.
The aniline industry is a concentrated one, with most producers integrated into MDI production. BASF, Huntsman, Bayer and DuPont are the four dominant players, with about 17%, 12%, 12% and 10% of the world's capacity, respectively; only DuPont is not an MDI producer. BASF, Huntsman and Bayer each have plants in several world regions.