Pentaerythritol is the organic compound with the formula C(CH2OH)4. This white, crystalline polyol is a versatile building block for the preparation of many polyfunctionalized compounds such as the explosive PETN and pentaerythritol triacrylate. Derivatives of pentaerythritol are components of alkyd resins, varnishes, PVC stabilizers, tall oil esters, and olefin antioxidants.
Halogen-free pentaerythritol esters are also environmentally friendly alternative to conventional electrical transformer fluids, being both readily biodegradable and non-hazardous in water. They advantageously replace polychlorobiphenyl (PCB), and even silicone-based or fluorinated hydrocarbons, as dielectric fluid in transformers. Their low volatility and high flash point give them an excellent resistance to ignition in case of major electrical failure and transformer rupture.
It is manufactured with the reaction of acetaldehyde with an excess of formaldehyde in an alkaline medium solution, which is filtered, wet cake cried and pulverised. Pentaerythritol is a important chemical produced by the reaction of acetaldehyde with an excess of formaldehyde in an alkaline medium under vigorously controlled conditions. The first stage is the step wise reaction producing pentaerythritol in an aldol condensation . The second stage consists of cannizzaro reaction involving pentacrythrose and produces mono penta .
The reaction is as under:
3HCHO+ CH3CHO =C(CH2OH)3 CHO HCHO+ C(CH2OH)3 CHO + NAOH = NACOOH + C(CH2OH)4
The final product is obtained by evaporating part of water from evaporating mixture and permitting the pentaerythritol to crystallise from the concentrated solution. A small amount of other hydroxylated substances are also formed. One of them is di penta .
The specifications of product and by-product are:
Sodium formate (by product)
There are three main grades of penta that are manufactured, namely, Penta Mono Technical, Penta Nitration Grade and Di-Pentaerythritol. Mono Penta Technical has penta content varying from 90% to 96% and is mainly used in paints and ink industry. Nitration grade penta has purity levels of more than 98% and is used in explosive industry and some specialized types of paints, while Di-penta has purity levels varying from 95-99% and is used in lubricating industry. In the di-penta grade colour varies from 1 to 3 on gardner scale, where 1 is colourless and is costlier product.
In addition to the above grades a small quantities of micronised products of the above grades are also used. These are further treated to obtain fine particle size with extra high purity and specific particle sizes and there prices are almost double that of technical grade material. These are used in very special kinds of paints, fire retarding in nature and other speciality paints.
Penta is a tetrafunctional compound of primary hydroxyl groups. The compact structure and the high density of hydroxyl groups provide outstanding properties. The main application area is as a branching monomer for alkyd resin, where it yields excellent balance between drying speed, viscosity and water resistance. It also enhances end-product performance in a wide range of applications such as alkyd-based coatings, synthetic lubricants, rosin esters such as fatty acid rosin and toll oil esters, hot-melt adhesives, antioxidants and explosives such as pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN). Miscellaneous applications include urethane coatings, flame retardant paints, polyvinyl chloride stabilizers, olefins antioxidant and pentaerythritol triacrylate
Till recently, there were 3 units having capacity to make pentaerythritol in India with total combined capacity is 18,720 tons. However, as of today there are only two units in operation with effective capacity of 12,720 tons. The details of the units, there location and capacities are provided in table 1, while table 2 provides the trend in production of penta in India.
Table 1: Installed capacity for Penta in India (TPA)
Kanoria Chemicals has a penta facility at Ankleshwar in Gujarat. Asian Paints has a facility at Chennai in Tamil Nadu. Asian Paints consumes its own production of penta for meeting its captive requirements. Asian Paints is expanding its capacity by additional 2,040-tons to take the total capacity to 8,760-tons.
Table 2: Production Trend (Tons)
Source: AR of Ministry of Chemicals & Petrochemicals
Perstorp Chemicals India Private Limited (PCIPL) is a group company of Perstorp AB, Sweden and is globally the leader in manufacturing Pentaerythritol & Tri Methylol Propane. The company has factory located at Vapi and the head office in Mumbai. The company is believed to be supplying penta imported from its parent company. The parent company Perstorp from Sweden had in the year 2016 had announced to set up pentaerythritol plant in India and had also signed an MoU with MIDC, Maharashtra for the same. However, since then no further progress has been reported so far on this project.
Virtually there is only one supplier meeting the requirements of the merchant market and the rest of it is met through imports. Table 3 provides data on Imports, Exports and Consumption of Penta in India
Table 3: Trends in Imports, Exports and Consumption (TPA)
The demand for Pentaerythritol in India is estimated at 31,000 tons and over 60% of this is being met through imports. Asian Paints is the major consumer of Penta constituting 31% of the total consumption. Merchant market for penta is estimated at 25,000-tons.
Penta is mainly used in Alkyd Resins, followed by inks and explosives. Fig. 1 provides pattern of usage in India.
The demand for Penta in India has been growing at 6.5% per annum and at this rate the demand is expected to reach 42,500-tons by 21-22.
The current effective capacity of Penta is only 12,720-tons and after expansion of Asian Paints it will be 14,760-tons, indicating a good scope for expansion or an entry of new facility to come up.
Global pentaerythritol market demand was 540.5 kilo tons in 2013 that has gone up to 650 kilo tons in 2017 and is expected to reach 822 kilo tons by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 4.8% from 2017 to 2022.
Asia Pacific region dominated the global pentaerythritol market and is expected to remain the largest consumer over the next six years. The growth of construction spending and positive outlook on the regional automotive industry is expected to remain a key driving factor for the regional market. Asia Pacific along with being the largest market is also expected to register the highest growth rate over the forecast period.
North America and Europe are expected to witness sluggish growth rates on account of mature automotive and construction industries in these regions. The market in these regions is characterized by stringent environmental regulations for manufacturing and handling synthetic polymers and derivatives. Growing demand for bio-based polyols in U.S., Germany and UK is expected to have huge potential for market growth over the next few years
Key applications of pentaerythritol have been classified into alkyd paints, alkyd adhesives/sealants, alkyd varnishes, plasticizers, alkyd inks, radiation cure coatings and lubricants among some others. Alkyd paints were the leading application segment for pentaerythritol in 2017. The increasing use of alkyd paints in automotive and construction industries is expected to drive the market growth in the future.
Plasticizers application segment is expected to register highest growth rate over the forecast period on account of increasing demand for high performance polymers with enhanced properties such as flame resistance, wear, and chemical resistance. Coatings and adhesives are also estimated to witness above average growth rates over the forecast period.
Growing demand for stable polyols across various derivatives manufacturing industries is expected to drive global pentaerythritol market over the next few years. Pentaerythritol has been gaining importance as a substitute for electrical transformer fluids on account of its biodegradability and less hazardous nature.
Various properties such as low volatility along with high flash point offer ignition resistance on account of which, pentaerythritol has emerged as an ideal substitute to dielectric fluids used in transformers. Increasing application in electrical transformer dielectric fluids is also expected to have a positive impact on pentaerythritol market growth over the forecast period.
Pentaerythritol finds application across numerous end-use industries including paints, construction, and automotive industry. Automotive applications such as lubricants, coatings, interior and polyurethane foam have been gaining importance over the last few years. Growing automotive industry coupled with increasing application scope is expected to fuel pentaerythritol market growth over the next few years.
Population growth and increasing disposable income in addition to willingness to spend have driven infrastructural developments in emerging economies of Asia Pacific and Latin America. Burgeoning middle class along with governmental initiatives towards cheaper home loans has driven construction industry in countries such as India and China. Growing automotive and construction industries in these countries are expected to drive pentaerythritol market over the forecast period.
Increasing demand for substitutes such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde for several applications such as paints & coatings and synthetic rubber is expected to pose a challenge for pentaerythritol market growth over the forecast period. Volatile raw material prices are also expected to hinder market growth over the next six years.
Increasing R&D and growing demand for bio-based polyols have led to the development of bio-based routes for manufacturing the polyol. Development of bio-based products coupled with the growth of niche application segments such as explosives and flame retardants is expected to create immense opportunities for pentaerythritol market participant.
Global Key Players
Samyang Chemical Corporation, Methanol Chemicals Company, Kanoria Chemicals & Industries Limited, Celanese Corporation, Perstorp Holding AB, Ercros S.A, Merck KGaA, Hubei Yihua Group Co.,Ltd, Mitsui Chemicals, Inc, Jiangsu Ruiyang Chemical Co., Ltd., U-JIN Chemical Co.,Ltd among others are the prominent market players.