Methyl isobutyl carbinol (MIBC) is an organic chemical compound, a branched hexyl alcohol, which is used as a frother in mineral flotation. Methyl Isobutyl carbinol is a clear, colorless liquid, slightly soluble in water and miscible with most organic solvents. Methyl isobutyl carbinol can be used as a solvent, in organic synthesis, as a precursor to some plasticizers and in the manufacture of brake fluid.
Methyl isobutyl carbinol is also known as methyl amyl alcohol, isobutyl methyl methanol, Isobutyl methyl carbinol, 1,3-dimethylbutanol, 4-methyl-2-amyl alcohol, 2-methyl-4-pentanol and 4-Methyl-2-pentyl alcohol among others. Methyl isobutyl carbinol has good solvent properties for oils, waxes, dyestuffs, natural resins and ethyl cellulose. Methyl isobutyl carbinol is readily biodegradable, unlikely to accumulate in the food chain, and is considered non-toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms on an acute basis.
Methyl isobutyl carbinol is primarily used in the production of lube oil additives and for antiwear and corrosion inhibitors. In addition, methyl isobutyl carbinol is used as a solvent for dyes and stains; solvent for nitrocellulose and ethylcellulose lacquers; solvent for ester gums, oils, natural resins, phenolics, waxes; chemical intermediate for higher alcohols, surfactants; extraction solvent for essential oils for flavors/fragrances and process solvents for soaps.
Methyl isobutyl carbinol is used as a flotation frother for treating coal, copper ores, tars and mining. Methyl isobutyl carbinol helps to boost the productivity of mining operations by increasing the mining yield. In mining frother applications, methyl isobutyl carbinol is used in the ppm range, with usual concentrations less than 1000 ppm and in many cases in the hundreds of ppm range (100 - 600 ppm). In addition, methyl isobutyl carbinol is used as a raw material in the manufacturing of methyl amyl sebacate and methyl amyl phthalate, which are used as plasticizers.
MIBC is produced either as a recovered coproduct during methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK) production or directly by hydrogenation of MIBK. MIBK, itself, is produced from acetone in a 3-step reaction. The first step involves the aldol condensation of two molecules of acetone in liquid phase to diacetone alcohol. Diacetone alcohol is then dehydrated under acidic conditions to mesityl oxide. Lastly, mesityl oxide is hydrogenated using a palladium catalyst to MIBK.
In the presence of nickel (catalyst), MIBK reacts with hydrogen to form MIBC under pressure @ 6 bar. Since, hydrogenation is an exothermic process, temperature of reactor being maintained @ 120 °C using cooling water. Once the MIBC reaction is complete, reaction product sent to a filtration process to separate nickel catalyst, filtrate (Crude MIBC) is diverted to purification section where it is purified.
Presently there is no manufacture of MIBC in India and all the country’s requirement is currently being met by imports, mainly from Taiwan, Europe, USA and Korea. The current Indian market demand for MIBC is around 20,000 TPA and is being fully imported in to the country.
In 2014 Cetex Petrochemicals, manufacturer of methyl ethyl ketone MEK had planned to make MIBK and Methyl Iso Butyl Carbinol (MIBC). MIBC is produced either as a recovered coproduct during methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK) production or directly by hydrogenation of MIBK. The company had planned to put up 30,000 tons per annum MIBK plant. However, due to constraints in the availability of key raw materials company could not go ahead with implementation of the project. However, Cetex is still going ahead with plans to make 5,000 tons of MIBC directly through hydrogenation of MIBK.
CetexPetrochemicals Ltd. is proposing to put up 5,000 tons per annum Methyl Iso Butyl Carbinol (MIBC) plant to increase its Indian market presence and also secure more markets in the International market in the South East Asian region. Cetex will be in an advantageous position to supply the entire requirement of this region due to low costs of shipping. With FTA (Free Trade Agreement) between ASEAN countries, those countries will also prefer supplies from India to take advantage of duty benefits.
MIBC's major application is in the manufacture of lube oil additives, followed by its use as the principal flotation frother in treating copper and other ores. Surface coatings make up a minor portion of MIBC consumption.
There are a number of industries in India using MIBC as a Frother in the manufacture of Metals from Ores. Hindustan Copper Limited, Cominco Binani, Vedanta Group are some of the users of MIBC. Apart from use as Frother in the Ore Beneficiation process of Copper and other metals, MIBC is a key raw material for the manufacture of specialty additives for the Lube Oil segment. Chevron Oronite, Singapore, USA and France gets these products contract manufactured at United Phosphorous Limited, Gujarat using MIBC Indian Additives Limited, Chennai, a Group company of Chevron Oronite Pte, Singapore, also is manufacturing the Specialty chemicals using MIBC. All lube oil manufacturing majors are potential customers for MIBC such as Lubrizol, USA, Infineum International, UK. Total, France and Afton UK also use MIBC for the manufacture of specialty chemicals. There are other potential MIBC users in the Printing, Automotive and Specialty chemicals segments who face constraints on availability of MIBC.
World MIBC statistics are difficult to estimate, but overall, MIBC will experience positive growth in lube oil applications and as a flotation frother (especially in actively mined regions). Global MIBK production is estimated at 4.45 lakh tons. As a by-product alone the MIBC production can be estimated to be around 1.5 lakh tons. Besides this MIBC is also produced directly by hydrogenation of MIBK.
The increase in consumption of lube oil additives is expected to be a major driving factor for the growth of methyl isobutyl carbinol market. Methyl isobutyl carbinol prices are significantly affected by feedstock costs and the price of natural gas. Stronger demand and higher feedstock costs helps to boost prices for methyl isobutyl carbinol. In addition, growing demand in emerging economies is expected to boost the growth of methyl isobutyl carbinol market. Methyl isobutyl carbinol is a preferred frother of choice for the mining of ores, such as copper and molybdenum sulfide, as well as coal. The growth of the mining industry is expected to further drive the demand for methyl isobutyl carbinol. However, availability of substitutes and demand fluctuations could hamper the growth of this market.
The Asia Pacific is the fastest growing region for methyl isobutyl carbinol industry. China, Republic of Korea, India, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia are some of the major consumers of methyl isobutyl carbinol in Asia Pacific. The U.S. and Western Europe are the largest consumers of methyl isobutyl carbinol. The European market is said to be fairly balanced with steady demand. In addition, demand for methyl isobutyl carbinol is growing in Latin America due to increase in mining operations.
Some of the key players in this market are Shell Chemicals ( U.S), BASF (Germany), Dow Chemical (U.S.), E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (U.S.), Mitsubishi Chemical (Japan), LG Chem (South Korea), AkzoNobel (Netherlands), Sumitomo Chemical (Japan), Mitsui Chemicals (Japan), Toray Industries (Japan), Eastman Chemical Company(U.S.), and Evonik Industries (Germany) among others.
The global methyl isobutyl carbinol (MIBC) market is expected to register a CAGR of 2.85% during the next five years. MIBC is used in frothers, surface coatings, adhesives, cosmetics, toiletries, and cleaners; finds application in the pharmaceutical industry for the extraction of vitamins and minerals, as wetting agents in lithographic printing, and as chemical intermediates; it is used in the production of lube oil additives, hydraulic fluids, and plasticizers.
Surging Demand for Frothers in Copper and Molybdenum Sulfide Ores
Frothers used in the mining industry are generally alcohol- or glycol-based reagents. Methyl Isobutyl Carbinol is widely used as a frother in metal and non-metallic ores industry. Copper is an essential component in radiators, motors, connectors, wiring, bearings, and brakes used in cars and trucks. Multiple applications of copper in various industries have been increasing the demand for copper, worldwide. The demand for molybdenum disulfide has also been increasing, owing to its wide application as dry lubricant in greases, dispersions, friction materials, and bonded coatings. The increasing activities of flotation plants used in copper and molybdenum extracting sectors are likely to increase the demand for methyl isobutyl carbinol
Plasticizers is Expected to Dominate the Market
Owing to growth in the plasticizers’ demand for end-user applications, such as, flooring & wall, film & sheet coverings, wires & cables, coated fabrics, consumer goods, etc., the demand for MIBC is also expected to rise. Additionally, the rising demand for lightweight vehicles and introduction of new emission standards have been driving the demand for PVC products in automotive applications. MIBC is generally mixed with PVC for the plasticity and viscosity of the product used in the automotive industry. Thus, growth in the demand for such products in the automotive industry is likely to increase the demand for MIBC.
Asia-Pacific Dominates the Market
In 2017, Asia-Pacific was the dominant consumer of the market. This region is also expected to be the fastest-growing market, owing to growing demand from developing economies for automobile, mining, and coating industries. The increasing number of mining operations and upcoming government projects in China and India are providing a lucrative opportunity for the growth of the market in the future.
The United States is expected to continue being the leading country in North America. Robust growth in the mining industry is expected to favor the market growth over the forecast period. Copper mining has been a major activity in the United States, with vast deposits of copper available in the country