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Chemical Economics Handbook

Detergent Alcohols

Published : Jan 01, 2013

Detergent alcohols and their derivatives are widely used as raw materials in the production of surfactants for laundry and dishwashing detergents, other household cleaners and shampoos, and various industrial applications. The most prominent end-use applications for detergent alcohols are as follows:

  • Household detergents
  • Industrial and institutional cleaners
  • Personal care products (shampoos, soap, shower gels)
  • Polymers and plastics processing (polymerization aid, plasticizers, antioxidants, release agents)
  • Lube oil additives (pour-point depressants, viscosity index improvers)
  • Metalworking fluids (welding, metal preparation and fabrication)
  • Oil field chemicals (downhole mining, high-temperature- and high-pressure-resistant surfactants)
  • Water and wastewater treatment chemicals

The following pie chart shows world consumption of detergent alcohols:

World Consumption of Detergent Alcohols

The detergent alcohol industry has gone through three business cycles over the past fifteen years, as follows:

  • The huge buildup of natural alcohol capacity in Southeast Asia in the mid-1990s led to a consolidation in Europe, North America and Japan and to a substitution from tallow- to vegetable oil–based products.
  • New mainly synthetic-based capacity came onstream during 2001–2004.
  • A second surge of natural alcohol capacity buildup in Southeast Asia and China occurred during 2007–2012, driven by persistent high oil prices and the biodiesel excitement.

Over the last few years production of detergent alcohols has declined in developed regions like North America, Western Europe and Japan, as new producers started up operating facilities in countries in developing regions like South Africa, Brazil, China, Malaysia and Indonesia. With capacity expected to continue to grow faster than consumption on a global level, overall capacity utilization is forecast to decline through 2017. As a consequence, another round of industry consolidation is expected.

Demand growth for fatty alcohols and their derivatives is usually at or slightly below average GDP growth. The current economic outlook anticipates declining growth for Europe in 2012 and 2013 (–0.4% and –0.3%, respectively), with growth through 2017, at 1.4%, expected to remain well behind that of the United States and Japan, at 2.9% and 2.2%, respectively, through 2017. World GDP growth will reflect the slowdown in Europe and the somewhat declining growth rates in Asia and is forecast at 3.7% through 2017. Therefore, growth in the global consumption of detergent alcohols will be limited to about 3.2% annually during 2012–2017.

Table of Contents

Summary
Producers
Capacity
Production
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Consumption by Derivative
Consumption by End Use
Trade
Imports
Exports
Introduction
Regional Breakdown
Definition
Business Drivers
Manufacturing Processes
Conversion of Natural Fats and Oils
Reduction of Methyl Esters
Reduction of Fatty Acids
Saponification of Esters
Synthesis from Petroleum-Derived Raw Materials
Oxo (Hydroformylation) Reaction
Linear Primary Alcohols from Ethylene
Alfol(r) Alcohol Process
Controlled Linear Chain-Growth Process
Linear Secondary Alcohols by Paraffin Oxidation
Other Routes
Conversion to Major Derivatives
Alcohol Ethoxylates
Alcohol Sulfates and Alcohol Ether Sulfates
Polymethacrylate Esters
Fatty Nitrogen Derivatives
Alkyl Glyceryl Ether Sulfonates
Alkyl Polyglucosides
Environmental Issues and Regulations
REACH
Detergents Regulation
Supply and Demand by Region
North America
Producing Companies
Production
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Alcohol Ethoxylates
Alcohol Sulfates and Ether Sulfates
Laundry detergents
Dishwashing liquids
Other household cleaners
Industrial, institutional and commercial uses
Personal care products
Free Alcohols
C12-C18 fraction
C20+ fraction
Polymethacrylate Esters
Fatty Nitrogen Derivatives
Alkyl Glyceryl Ether Sulfonates
Alkyl Polyglucosides
Other Derivatives
Hindered phenols
Thiodipropionate esters
Ethoxylated and propoxylated alcohols
Alcohol phosphates and ether phosphates
Esters of fatty acids
Alcohol phosphites
Price
Trade
Imports
Exports
Central and South America
Producing Companies
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Trade
Imports
Exports
Western Europe
Producing Companies
Production
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Alcohol Ethoxylates and Alcohol Ether Sulfates
Alcohol Sulfates
Free and C20+ Alcohols
Polymethacrylate Esters
Fatty Nitrogen Derivatives
Alkyl Polyglucosides
Other Derivatives
Esters of fatty acids and succinates
Thiodipropionate esters
Price
Trade
Imports
Exports
Central Europe
Producing Companies
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Trade
Imports
Exports
Eastern Europe
Producing Companies
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Trade
Middle East
Producing Companies
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Trade
Africa
Producing Companies
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Trade
Imports
Exports
South Asia
Producing Companies
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Trade
Imports
Exports
Japan
Producing Companies
Production
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Alcohol Ethoxylates
Alcohol Ether Sulfates
Alcohol Sulfates
Free and C20+ Alcohols
Fatty Nitrogen Derivatives
Other Derivatives
Price
Trade
Imports
Exports
China
Producing Companies
Production
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Price
Trade
Imports
Exports
Other Northeast Asia
Producing Companies
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Trade
Imports
Exports
Southeast Asia
Producing Companies
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Price
Trade
Imports
Exports
Filter Sort