Published May 2016
China continues to be the world's most active country and has added the most capacity since 2011. China became the world's largest 1,4-butanediol producing country, with a production capacity amounting to about 55% of the world capacity at the end of 2015, and will increase its capacity over the next few years. However, China's capacity increases have caused overcapacity and lower market prices for 1,4-butanediol in recent years.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of 1,4-butanediol:
The world’s largest producers of 1,4-butanediol include Dairen Chemical Corp., BASF, Sinopec, LyondellBasell, Ashland (formerly ISP), and Xinjiang Markor Chemical Industry. Together these companies account for more than 52% of world 1,4-butanediol capacity as of April 2016.
Global 1,4-butanediol consumption is concentrated in China, Other Asia, the United States, and Western Europe, which accounted for 41%, 22%, 16%, and 12%, respectively, of the world consumption of 1,4-butanediol in 2015. World consumption is expected to grow at an average rate of about 3.5% annually during the forecast period.
In China, 1,4-butanediol consumption has increased dramatically with the rapid growth of spandex and PBT production, and these markets will continue to drive demand over the next few years. Chinese BDO consumption increased by 60% between 2012 and 2015, but production capacity increased by nearly 150% in the same period.
THF is the primary derivative of 1,4-butanediol, accounting for about 51% of consumption in 2015. About 80% of THF is used for PTMEG production.
The pricing trends for 1,4-butanediol basically follow raw material prices such as for propylene, butadiene, n-butane, or maleic anhydride, which in turn are related to feedstock costs for crude oil, natural gas, or coal. However, the supply/demand balance also plays a role in pricing; 1,4-butanediol prices were lower in 2015 because of significant world overcapacity. In addition, prices set in China can affect prices in other regions/countries.
The 1,4-butanediol industry has attracted significant investment in the development of bio-succinic acid and the production of bio-1,4-butanediol that is commercially viable from sustainable sources. Major players include BioAmber, Davy, DuPont, Genomatica, and Myriant. A first-generation industrial-scale plant has already been completed and is in operation.