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Published: February 2012
The main product categories covered in this report are organotins, organoaluminums, organomagnesiums and organolithiums.
Nonbiocidal organotins are used largely as additives for polyvinyl chloride (PVC), but also in catalysis of several products, including rigid polyurethanes and silicones. Biocidal organotins are used in agriculture as fungicides and miticides, and as preservatives/antifoulants on wood surfaces, in closed-circuit cooling towers, and in marine paints.
Organoaluminums are used primarily as catalysts for the synthesis of polymers, including polypropylene, polyethylene and several elastomers. Use as a catalyst for other syntheses includes olefin oligomerization and the Dimersol process for gasoline production.
Organomagnesiums are used as catalysts for polyolefin production and in the synthesis of pharmaceutical and fine chemicals. Organolithiums are used as catalysts for polybutadiene elastomer production and in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals.
The following pie chart shows merchant consumption of organometallics by major region:
The overall business environment for organometallics includes the following characteristics:
- Greater regulations and restrictions (e.g., tributyltins in markets such as biocides/paint and PVC stabilizers). Because of stricter environmental demands, organotin antifoulants have been phased out and replaced by copper-based alternatives.
- Rising raw materials (metals) costs along with major price fluctuations affecting the development of markets for some organometallics in certain applications (e.g., organotin stabilizers).
- Catalyst applications remain the main markets for organoaluminums, organomagnesiums and organolithium.
The U.S. market for organotins has been impacted dramatically by the decline of the housing market. According to some industry estimates, the market has fallen significantly since the middle of 2007 and plant capacities have declined dramatically. Also, an average growth rate of 0.9% per year is forecast for all organoaluminum compounds during 2011–2016.
Organometallic markets are growing at different rates in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, from flat to double-digit in the case of organolithiums in the Middle East. Western Europe is the only producing area in the region; however, this will change in 2013 as new capacities for organometallics will go onstream in Saudi Arabia.
Japanese consumption of organotins for the PVC stabilizer market has been decreasing. Organoaluminum consumption has also been decreasing, mainly because of the improved performance of organoaluminum catalysts, and a decrease in polyolefin production, especially polyethylenes.