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Published: November 2010
This study examines the following types of polyalkylene glycols: polyethylene glycols (PEGs), polypropylene glycols, higher polyol adducts, block copolymers and random copolymers. Polyalkylene glycols are used in a wide variety of end-use markets; this report concentrates on nonurethane applications. These include markets for surface-active agents, functional fluids, lubricants, personal care and pharmaceuticals. In this report, the term polyalkylene glycols is used to describe nonurethane uses unless specifically stated otherwise.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of polyalkylene glycols:
The markets for polyalkylene glycols generally depend on the performance of the overall economy, especially in the more developed regions of the world. In China, much higher growth is expected. Use of polyethylene glycol in the production of polysilicon for the photovoltaic industry is expected to more than double from 2010 to 2015. Another growth market is use in methoxy-PEGs (MPEGs), which in turn are used in the production of polycarboxylates (polycarboxylate ethers [PCE], polyacrylic acids with MPEG side chains); use of PCE has been growing strongly as concrete additives.
Nearly fifty companies produce polyalkylene glycols in the United States, Western Europe and Japan; another forty to fifty companies produce them in the rest of the world. The largest producer is Dow Chemical, which has multiple plants in the United States, as well as units in Brazil and Spain. Dow's total capacity accounts for well over 50% of total world capacity. In September 2009, Dow sold its share in the Optimal Chemicals operation in Malaysia to PETRONAS. Other sizable polyalkylene glycol producers include BASF, Clariant, Cognis, Croda, Huntsman and INEOS, but Dow is the largest producer in the world by far.