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Chemical Economics Handbook

Glycerin

Published : Jun 01, 2012

The global supply of refined glycerin is driven by two main factors:

  • Demand for biodiesel
  • Demand for oleochemicals

Crude glycerin supply is now greatly dependent on biodiesel production, and is expected to fluctuate because of an increasingly uncertain market for biodiesel. Issues pertaining to industry subsidies, rebates, sustainability and government legislation mandating biodiesel consumption are still being discussed in many regions. The outcome of these discussions will likely affect the profitability of the biodiesel market and whether it can survive with no or minimal support from governments.

The following pie chart shows world consumption of refined glycerin:

glycerin

Asia, Western Europe and the United States together accounted for three-fourths of the total world consumption of refined glycerin in 2011. Overall, refined glycerin consumption is expected to grow very strongly in the next several years, at an average annual rate of 10%.

Asia accounted for about 36% of global consumption of refined glycerin in 2011. The region was led by China, which accounted for about 18% of total global use. China will drive world consumption growth with very high growth rates resulting from the further expansion of glycerin-to-epichlorohydrin production. Growth in glycerin demand for polyether polyol production and pharmaceutical uses will also make a relatively big contribution to the glycerin consumption increase. It is expected that by 2016, China will account for 27% of the world's refined glycerin consumption.

Thailand will also experience high growth rates as a result of epichlorohydrin production. Both Indonesia and Malaysia will continue to export large amounts of refined glycerin. Japan's refined glycerin consumption growth is expected to remain flat in the next several years. Overall, Asian consumption will significantly increase to 45% of the global refined glycerin total in 2016.

Western Europe accounted for 26% of the total world refined glycerin consumption in 2011. Consumption has been mainly for applications such as personal care, food and beverages, polyether polyols, and pharmaceuticals. Strong growth of nearly 8% annually is expected for the region as a result of the use of glycerin as a raw material for novel chemical production such as syngas, propylene glycol and epichlorohydrin.

Consumption in the United Sates has recovered somewhat from the decline caused by the economic recession in 2009. Fairly strong growth of 6–8% annually is expected in the next several years. Moderate growth will occur for traditional glycerin market segments, while high growth for newer applications, such as propylene glycol production and recreational vehicle fluids, is expected.

Other regions, such as Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East, will experience strong annual consumption growth of 6–7% during the next five years. In Central and Eastern Europe, increased demand in markets such as personal care and functional food will continue, along with epichlorohydrin production. In the Middle East, personal care and food account for more than one-third of the overall demand for glycerin, followed by alkyd resins because the region has a highly developed paints and coatings industry. Growth is expected in all applications.

Africa will also show strong growth of 9% annually (cosmetics and personal care products have experienced the highest demand growth in recent years).

The remaining world regions, such as Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, and Oceania, will continue to represent only a minor share of the world total.

Refined glycerin is at some risk for substitution by competing products, mainly sorbitol and glycols. Substitution depends on availability and prices.

Table of Contents

Summary
Introduction
Manufacturing Processes
Natural Glycerin
Production of Soap: Saponification
Production of Fatty Acid: Hydrolysis
Biodiesel Production: Transesterification
Synthetic Glycerin
Environmental Issues
Grades
Crude Glycerin
Refined Glycerin
Supply and Demand by Region
United States
Producing Companies
Refined Glycerin
Synthetic Glycerin
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Personal Care Products
Food and Beverages
Oral Care Products
Tobacco
Pharmaceuticals
Polyether Polyols
Propylene Glycol
Recreational Vehicle (RV) Fluids
Pet Food
Alkyd Resins
Other
Price
Trade
Imports
Exports
Canada
Producing Companies
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Trade
Mexico
Producing Companies
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Trade
Brazil
Producing Companies
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Other Central and South America
Producing Companies
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Western Europe
Producing Companies
Natural Glycerin
Synthetic Glycerin
Regulatory Issues
Salient Statistics
Production
Consumption
Traditional Markets
New Outlets
Chemical transformations
Biocatalytic transformations
Price
Trade
Imports
Exports
Central and Eastern Europe
Producing Companies
Salient Statistics
Production
Consumption
Trade
Imports
Exports
Africa
Producing Companies
Salient Statistics
Production
Consumption
Trade
Imports
Exports
Middle East
Producing Companies
Salient Statistics
Production
Consumption
Trade
Imports
Exports
Japan
Producing Companies
Natural Glycerin
Synthetic Glycerin
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Pharmaceuticals/Personal and Oral Care Products
Food and Beverages
Alkyd Resins
Polyether Polyols
Tobacco
Cellophane
Other
Price
Trade
China
Producing Companies
Salient Statistics
Consumption
Price
Trade
Imports
Exports
Other Asia
Overview
India
Producing Companies
Consumption
Trade
Indonesia
Producing Companies
Trade
Republic of Korea
Producing Companies
Consumption
Trade
Malaysia
Producing Companies
Consumption
Trade
Pakistan
Philippines
Producing Companies
Consumption
Trade
Taiwan
Producing Companies
Consumption
Trade
Thailand
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