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Published: May 2010
In 2009, almost 85% of the monoethylene glycol (MEG) consumed worldwide went into the production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which in turn was converted into fibers, film and bottles. Another 10% was consumed in antifreeze and 5.5% in other uses. In 2009, 69% of the MEG consumed worldwide was in Asia, followed by 13% in North America and 8% in Western Europe.
Diethylene glycol (DEG) and triethylene glycol (TEG) are obtained as coproducts in the manufacture of MEG from ethylene oxide. Not all MEG producers recover DEG and TEG; some recover and sell glycols above MEG as unspecified polyglycols. In addition, intentional production of TEG may be carried out by the reaction of ethylene oxide with DEG. U.S. and Japanese producers often supplement coproduct TEG supply with this method.
In the United States, 51% of the DEG consumed in 2009 went into the production of unsaturated polyester resins and polyurethanes. These same markets accounted for 53% of DEG consumption in Western Europe. In Japan, cement grinding was the largest DEG market, accounting for 28% of total DEG consumption in 2009; unsaturated polyester resins and polyurethanes amounted to 25%. The global DEG market is only about 10% that of the monoethylene glycol market; the TEG market is even less, at about 1%.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of monoethylene glycol:
The ethylene glycol market is at continued high risk for consolidation of producers as new plant capacity will be added in China, India and the Middle East (the Middle East has the feedstock advantage). The market is also at continued high risk for consolidation to increase the number of global players (rationalization of small, older producers/production lines will continue, as well as conversion of EO-EG plants to EO-only production plants).