The increasing applications of ethylene intermediates in various industries are expected to drive the demand for ethylene. Ethylene oxide is mainly used to produce ethylene glycol which is a pre-product for polyester. The basic raw materials for making polymers such as polypropylene, polyethylene, butyl rubber and acrylics among others which are obtained from ethylene, make ethylene a major driver for chemical production.
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Ethylene is a colorless flammable gas with a musky odor. It is the simplest alkene and unsaturated hydrocarbon after acetylene. It is extensively used in agriculture as a plant hormone to ripen fruits; it is also used in the chemical industry to produce ethyl benzene, polyethylene, ethylene dichloride, and ethylene oxide among others. The ethylene production methods include steam cracking of paraffinic hydrocarbons or by separation from refinery gas. Industrial reactions of ethylene include alkylation, halogenation, polymerization, oxidation, hydro halogenation and others.
The production of textile fibers is growing significantly, especially in Asia-Pacific. In addition, producers of ethylene oxide have already been able to profit from the worldwide growing substitution of glass by PET bottles and containers. Furthermore, ethylene is used as a welding gas and as an anesthetic agent.
On the basis of applications of ethylene, the global ethylene market has been segmented into high density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), and intermediates of petrochemicals, mainly used for the production of plastics. The most important of these are ethylene dichloride and ethylbenzene and ethylene oxide.
The methods of ethylene production include separation from refinery gas or by steam cracking of paraffinic hydrocarbons. Light gas oil and naphtha are the most common feedstock for ethylene manufacturing, which are by-products of crude oil filtering, some other feedstock for the manufacturing of ethylene include gases such as propane, butane and ethane, which are obtained from Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs).
One of the major trends in global ethylene market is the increased investments for capacity addition. The low costs involved and the increased capacity in ethylene production causes an overflow of ethylene in the market, causing additional price reductions, which is a key trend in the ethylene market.
Another application area of huge growth potential in the ethylene market is the production of ethylene oxide. Natural Gas Liquids feedstock in the US has enabled less expensive ethane production, and this is driving investments through large-scale capacity additions in the area. New investments are being shifted to the U.S. which is one of the key drivers contributing to the growth of ethylene market.
As ethylene is combustible and carcinogenic, stringent regulations on the use of ethylene are expected to hamper the ethylene market. In addition, volatility in the feedstock cost along with rising competition within industry players also obstructs the growth of global ethylene market.
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Some of the major competitors of the global ethylene market are Equistar Chemicals, BASF SE, LP, ExxonMobil Corporation, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, The Dow Chemical Company, Formosa Plastics Corporation, U.S.A., INEOS, Sasol Ltd, Shell Chemical LP and Westlake Chemical Corporation among others.
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