Renewable Chemicals Industry Turns To Specialty Markets

Like in 2015, major industry restructuring continued in 2016 for renewable chemicals market as several start-ups folded, some sold their IPs and assets, technology acquisitions have risen, some projects have stalled, several feedstock strategies have changed but interests in synthetic biology being applied to future chemical production have risen. Many of these activities have been driven by continued low crude oil and petrochemical prices, which lingered since late 2014. After more than two years of crude oil prices remaining at around $50/bbl, this has impacted many commodity chemical prices and led to several renewable chemical companies and investors rethinking strategies especially those who have vested R&D in drop-in bio-based chemical alternatives to commodity petrochemicals.

Marketing and developments of bio-based chemicals and materials targeting ethylene and propylene-based derivatives have been hit hard. Contract ethylene in the US sharply drop from an average $1062/ton in 2014 to $673/ton in 2016. The average price for US propylene sharply declined from $1530/ton in 2014 to $732/ton in 2016.

Braskem continues to be the only producer of sugarcane-based polyethylene, while Mitsui abandoned its sugarcane-based ethanol joint venture project with Dow Chemical in Brazil, which aimed to build a future ethanol-based PE manufacturing facility to compete against Braskem’s 200 ktpa Green PE plant in Brazil. Petrochemical companies are now more focused in improving their cost-position in North America utilizing cheap shale gas to produce polymers and chemicals.

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Handbook of Commercial Bio-based Chemicals
Each month in Bio-Materials and Intermediates Chemical Business Focus,  in addition to the news items and reviews of developments, there is a Chemical Profile, which offers a comprehensive yet compact summary of the market for a particular chemical – in both its petro-chemical and bio-chemical forms. We have now combined the profiles we have compiled over the past three years into a Handbook, which contains reviews of the research and development that is taking place for the chemicals listed below.

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dorisdeguzman_v2
Doris de Guzman
Senior Consultant – Bio-Materials
Phone: +44 207 924 3955
doris.de-guzman@orbichem.com

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