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Published: October 2011
Antioxidants, including p-phenylenediamines and substituted hydroquinones, are the largest application for hydroquinone, followed by polymerization inhibitors; these two applications account for 66% of world consumption. Both applications depend on production of several monomers (for plastics) and polymers, such as unsaturated polyester resins. Demand in photographic processing has stabilized in most regions because conversion to digital photography is largely complete and film usage has leveled off.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of hydroquinone:
The United States is the largest single consumer of hydroquinone, accounting for 25-26% of world consumption in 2010 and 2011. As a region, Asia is the largest hydroquinone market, accounting for approximately 42% of world consumption in 2010. During 2010–2016, hydroquinone consumption in Asia is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of 3.6%; higher growth is expected in India and China, while demand in Japan is expected to grow only marginally during 2010–2016.
Europe is the third-largest market for hydroquinone, accounting for almost 25% of world consumption in 2010. During 2010–2016, hydroquinone consumption in Europe overall is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of 1.7%. Growth in Central and Eastern Europe is expected at 2.8%, largely the result of increased production of polymers; consumption growth in Western Europe is forecast at a more moderate rate of 1.6% during 2010–2016.
The market was extremely tight during 2010–2011; additional capacity scheduled for commissioning in 2012 will alleviate the market tightness temporarily during 2012–2014. However, the hydroquinone market is expected to become tight again in 2014–2016, unless new capacity is announced. The United States, Japan, China and France are the major producing regions; in 2011, the United States accounted for 43% of world capacity, followed by Japan (23%), China (22%) and France (12%). During 2012, China will surpass Japan as the second-largest producer.