Solvents are an immensely important auxiliary in industrial production processes. They are used in, e.g., paints and varnishes, printing inks and adhesives. Also, they are utilized in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and cleaners. In 2013, about US$25 billion were generated with the sale of solvents worldwide. In the already third edition of Ceresana's study on the global market for solvents, analysts of Ceresana expect value of the global solvents market to increase by 4% p.a. until 2021.
The most comprehensive report worldwide analyzes how the use of solvents will develop in individual markets. Among the most important consumers are manufacturers of paints and varnishes, followed at a considerable distance by producers of printing inks. Demand on the part of the pharma industry ranked third, followed by utilization in cosmetics and adhesives. Other important applications are chemical manufacturing processes, cooling circuits, dry-cleaning and deicers. In the segment paints and varnishes, however, a trend towards water-borne products and other more environmentally friendly alternatives becomes apparent. Accordingly, an increasing global output of paints and varnishes is not directly reflected in demand for solvents, as especially Europe and North America are seeing the share of solvent-borne products fall continuously.
Asia-Pacific already accounts for the largest share of total global demand for solvents in the sector paints and varnishes. Asian countries are also the most important sales market for solvents in the sectors printing inks and adhesives. In the production of cosmetics, on the other hand, North America and Western Europe process the largest amount of solvents; in the sector pharmaceuticals North America is the prime sales market.
In 2013, Asia-Pacific was the worldwide largest sales market for solvents, accounting for 41% of total demand, followed by North America and Western Europe. Among the largest growth markets are China, India, and Brazil. But an upturn can also be seen on the North American market after sales volume in this region fell slightly in recent years. The Western European market is likely to stagnate, partly because of weak growth of local solvent-processing industries.
With a market volume of 6.5 million tonnes in 2013 alcohols are the most widely used solvents. Main products are ethanol, n-butanol, isopropanol and methanol. But aromatics, ketones, esters and ethers account for significant market shares as well. With an expected increase of 3.4% per year, the group of ethers will be the fastest growing market. Ethanol, toluene and acetone are among the most popular solvents.
Global market for solvents