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Published: October 2012
Nearly all ethylbenzene produced in the world is used in the manufacture of styrene; therefore, ethylbenzene demand is determined primarily by styrene production.
Styrene is used mostly in polymer production for polystyrene, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN) resins, styrene-butadiene elastomers and latexes, and unsaturated polyester resins. The major styrene markets include packaging, electrical/electronic/appliances, construction and consumer products.
Consumption of ethylbenzene for uses other than the production of styrene is estimated to be less than 1%. These applications include use as a solvent and, on occasion, in the production of diethylbenzene, acetophenone and ethyl anthraquinone.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of ethylbenzene:
The global operating rate for ethylbenzene was 85% in 2007; it declined to 76% in 2008–2009 as the global economic recession resulted in diminished styrene demand. Global operating rates have marginally improved to 80% in 2012. In the United States, Western Europe and Japan, producers have contended with rising feedstock prices and oversupply; this has resulted in some ethylbenzene capacity being shut down or idled in these three countries/regions since 2007.
However, over the past five years there was a net increase in global ethylbenzene capacity, largely because the Middle East and China together added significant ethylbenzene/styrene capacity to meet anticipated demand growth. In 2012, operating rates in China are still below 70%.
World ethylbenzene demand will increase at an average annual rate of about 3% for the next five years. Consumption is expected to grow most rapidly in China.