US demand to rise over 1% per annum through 2018
A robust recovery in US construction spending along with the continued rebound in manufacturing output will drive advances in US solvent demand at a greater than one percent annual pace through 2018. Strength in both nonresidential and residential building construction will stimulate not only direct solvent use in construction related activities, but also increased solvent demand in paint and coatings and other construction related materials. Solvent use in a variety of manufacturing applications, but most notably in chemical processing, will be supported in part by comparatively low natural gas prices that will help boost the competitiveness of US manufacturers.
The collapse of the housing market and subsequent deep recession resulted in a sharp drop in solvent demand in nearly all applications. This will change going forward as an improved fiscal situation for homeowners and businesses alike -- along with an easing in the tight lending standards that have been prevalent since the financial crisis in 2008 -- will result in robust growth in building construction spending. This in turn will benefit not only direct solvent consumption during construction, but also support increased solvent use in paint, coatings, and other construction related materials.
Alcohols, glycols among favored “green” solvents Steadily increasing concerns about their sustainability and chemical toxicity, as well as external regulatory pressure, will fuel demand for “green” solvents that are derived from renewable raw materials. This will contribute to growth in alcohols and glycols, which will post the largest advances of all solvents. Other “green” solvents such as butanediol, terpenes, and esters will register the fastest demand growth, albeit from much smaller bases. In addition to favoring more eco-friendly solvents, tightening regulatory standards will restrain overall solvent demand growth, as will industry efforts to limit waste and reduce costs by increased solvent recovery and recycling.
Shift to “greener” solvents to affect key markets
Consumer demand for products with low environmental impacts will encourage producers in the cleaning products and cosmetic and toiletry markets to introduce new or reformulated products that make use of “greener” solvents derived from renewable resources. In addition, environmental regulations at both the state and federal levels aimed at reducing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions will boost glycol-based solvent demand in the paint and coatings market. Similarly, alcohol solvents will exhibit greater demand from the pharmaceuticals market in order to help producers meet strict FDA and EPA regulations. Shifts in demand within the sizable printing inks market will also be affected by the trend toward “greener” solvent products as soy and propanol-based solvents continue to make inroads as replacements for hydrocarbons.
Paint, coatings to surpass transportation as top market
The transportation market will give way to the paint and coatings market as the largest consumer of solvents by 2018. Restrained by lengthening engine coolant flush intervals and increased consumer demand for longer-lasting, less toxic propylene glycol antifreeze, demand for solvents in the transportation market will grow at a below-average pace through 2023. Additionally, solvent recycling operations will provide additional downward pressure on overall solvent demand going forward.