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Product profile: Paraxylene & Bio-based paraxylene

Introduction

P-Xylene is an aromatic hydrocarbon, based on benzene with two methyl substituents. The “p” stands for para, identifying the location of the methyl groups as across from one another. It is an isomer of xylene. Other isomers include o-xylene and m-xylene. P-Xylene is used on a large scale for the manufacture of terephthalic acid for polyester. Its polymer is known as Parylene. P-Xylene is produced by catalytic reforming of petroleum naphtha as part of the BTX aromatics (benzene, toluene and the xylene isomers) extracted from the catalytic reformate.

The P-Xylene is then separated out in a series of distillation, adsorption or crystallization and reaction processes from the m-xylene, o-xylene and ethylbenzene. Its melting point is the highest among this series of isomers, but simple crystallization does not allow easy purification due to the formation of eutectic mixtures. It is also highly flammable. Paraxylene is one of the three Dimethyl Benzene isomers and therefore belongs to the Aromatics family, so called BTX where X stands for Xylene.

Paraxylene is also called P-Xylene or even PX. Paraxylene is a colorless liquid. Paraxylene is obtained by the distillation of camphor with zincchloride. Then Paraxylene can be oxidized to form PTA. Paraxylene is the principal precursor to PTA and Dimethyl Terephthalate, the two monomers used in the production of PET.

Paraxylene Applications

Paraxylene is one of the isomers of xylene. It is a colorless, volatile liquid. Paraxylene is a very important raw material in the preparation of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) chips, which are extensively used in packing industries, for example, for mineral water and carbonated soft drink bottles. Paraxylene is also used in the manufacture of PTA (purified terephthalic acid), which is a basic petrochemical used in the textile industry for making polyester. The PET is one of the main source of raw materials to produce plastic bottles and polyester clothing. 98% of the Paraxylene production, and half of all xylene, is consumed in this way.

Paraxylene Global Scenario

The global paraxylene market is witnessing significant growth, due to increasing demand of high end domestic & household products and personalized apparel. Globally, the polyester fibers segment was the largest application segment of paraxylene in 2015, followed by packaging application segment. The increasing buying power, along with increasing quality living standard is significantly fuelling the demand for personal and household paraxylene based products. The increasing demand for polyester fibers and packaging is anticipated to have positive impact on the growth of the paraxylene market. Moreover, films for x-rays, magnetic tapes, photographic film and electrical insulation, carbonated and non-carbonated beverage containers is further propelling the demand for paraxylene.

Paraxylene Global Market by Applications

Among the various applications, the PTA segment held the largest share in the global paraxylene market in 2015, and it is expected to retain its dominance during the forecast period. The growth in PTA application is owed to its non-breakage properties and good carbon dioxide barrier properties. Owing to light-weight, shatter-resistant, high tensile strength and cost efficient nature, PTA application is preferred over other applications such as DMT. The PTA application segment was valued at 39,886.5 kilotons or $32,964.1 million in 2015 and it is expected grow at a CAGR of 12.9%, in terms of value, during the year 2022. The DMT and DI-PX carry small share and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.8% and 11.7%, respectively.

The global paraxylene market is valued at $34,745.7 million in 2015, and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.8% during the forecast period 2022. In terms of volume, Asia-Pacific accounted for the largest share in the global paraxylene market, with 34,293 kilotons consumed in 2015. The major reason behind the growth of the market in the region is the growing demand for house hold domestic & personal apparel needs and fast growing GDP. Furthermore, the increased governments focus on recycling and renewables (mainly bio-based), are encouraging the companies for new product development and technique, thus boosting the overall paraxylene market in the region.

Paraxylene Growth Drivers

The growing consciousness towards increasing use of bio-based paraxylene in bio plastics PET bottles (Bio-PET) and other bio plastics applications, such as catering utensils, is expected to drive the paraxylene market towards a steady growth.

Global capacity of Paraxylene in 2011 was 37 MMT as against a demand of 31.5 MMT and it is expected to reach 49 MMT in 2016 and demand is expected to touch 38 MMT.

Paraxylene Major Global Players

GS Caltex, BP, Chevron Phillips Chemical Co, Chevron Phillips Chemical, ExxonMobil, Mitsubishi Chemical, Polimeri Europa, Reliance Industries, Shanghai Petrochemical, Teijin Ltd are some of the leading producers of paraxylene in the world.

Paraxylene - Indian Scenario

Reliance Industries, MRPL and IOC are the leading producers of Paraxylene in India. Reliance is the biggest player with share of 62% in the total capacity. In India the projected capacity for 2016-17 is around 3660 KTA against the estimated demand of 3571 KTA.

Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has commissioned the first phase of its 2.2 million mt/year para-xylene (PX) plant at Jamnagar in Gujarat in Dec’16. The 2.2 million metric tonnes per annum plant is built with technology from BP, its partner in the D6 block of the Krishna Godavari basin on the east coast. With the commissioning of this plant, RIL’s PX capacity will more than double from 2.0 MMTPA to 4.2 MMTPA. On commissioning of entire PX capacity, Reliance will be the world’s second largest PX producer with 9% of global PX capacity and 11% share of global production.

The new PX capacity will add value to the output from refineries and improve the profitability of the Jamnagar complex. The new capacity will complete the integration within Reliance's polyester value chain, leading to improved margins and also strengthen its position in polyester industry globally.

Commissioning of the new Paraxylene plant marks beginning of the culmination of a series of projects including the refinery off-gas cracker, ethane import project and petcoke gasification.

PX import’s stood at 799 KT in 2015-16 and it is expected to increase to 1179 KT in 2016-17 and see a decline in 2017-18 to 800 KT. Meanwhile exports are expected to increase from 837 KT in 2015-16 to 839 KT in 2016-17 before witnessing a robust growth and would touch a high of 1836 KT by 2017-18.

PX Demand-Supply in India in (K tons)

End-use

PX has only one end use consumption in India, i.e. it goes into production of PTA.

Paraxylene Opportunities

Bio-based ParaXylene

In recent years, the global market has shown a strong acceptance for bio-based chemicals and materials in the light of growing considerations over sustainability. Paraxylene is an aromatic hydrocarbon compound, derived from benzene, and is colorless, toxic, highly flammable and hazardous in nature. Owing to its pernicious properties, various government and environmental organizations have enforced regulations for the development of bio-based paraxylene (Bio-PX). Bio based paraxylene is made of renewable raw materials, such as glucose, starch, cellulose and vegetable oils. The advantage of utilizing these raw material is that they can be processed in an existing recycling process and can be re-used. Bio based paraxylene is increasingly being used in bio based plastic PET bottles (Bio-PET) and other bio based plastic applications. Over the past few years, plastic based on certain amount of renewable material is being used extensively. Bio-PX also helps to meet sustainability goals, and it reduces the greenhouse gas emission up to 70% when compared with petrochemical paraxylene.

Rising awareness regarding petrochemical products usage and increasing environmental concern and increasing demand of bio based products & substitutes for conventional products are some of the factors expected to drive the bio based paraxylene market. Steady PTA demand in polyester applications and consumption in packaging is also expected to positively attribute towards the growth of bio based paraxylene. Moreover, increasing resin prices along with growing concerns regarding non disposable nature of petrochemical based PX has compelled manufacturers to focus on development of bio based paraxylene, key raw material for PET. The rising demand for bio plastics PET resin (Bio-PET) for soft drink and mineral water bottles is expected to boost the bio based Paraxylene market. Key consumers of PET are found to have been partnering with key renewable chemical firms for constant supply of bio-based resin. In sync with increasing shift towards the utilization of bio based materials and chemicals, companies such as Nestlé SA and Coca-Cola Co. are working with their venture companies for production of 100% bio-based bottle.

Moreover, volatile prices of crude oil, a key raw material for paraxylene, over past few years, has fueled the world demand for using naturally occurring, renewable resources. Increasing demand for bio based paraxylene in the market owing to increasing application for various purpose such as, PET bottles, is expected to create immense opportunities for the growth of market and emergence of new players. However, owing to complicated manufacturing process associated with the bio based paraxylene and technological limitations is acting as a constraining factor for expansion of market.

Bio Based Paraxylene Market Segmentation By Application – Bio- terephthalic acid (Bio-TPA), Bio-based polyethylene terephthalate (Bio-PET), Polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT), Polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), Others; By End Use – Food and Beverage, Packaging, Other Plastic applications, etc.

North America is expected to have significant share in the bio based paraxylene market with a lot of investment in research and development for bio based products. Europe is expected to show a great potential for bio based paraxylene market to grow. Stringent REACH regulation in European countries for manufacturing and burning of petrochemicals may contribute to the positive growth of the market. Asia pacific, being the key consumer of petrochemical paraxylene, in sync with the shift towards green technology is expected to witness above average growth in recent years for bio-based PX. Increasing investment for renewable chemicals in Japanese chemical firms is expected to give positive outlook for the market.

Examples of some of the market participants operating in the global bio based paraxylene market include Virent, Inc., Renmatix, Inc. Anellotech, Inc., Origin Materials, GEVO, Avantium, BASF SE, Toray Industries, Inc. and others**

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