Propylene glycol can be defined as viscous, colorless, hydroscopic liquid, having a low degree of toxicity with a faint sweet taste. It is the product of chemical reaction between propylene oxide and water. It has a unique property of being chemically neutral which means it does not react with other chemicals or compounds. This unique property of propylene glycol makes it useful in the production of contrasting elements such as perfumes. Owing to its hygroscopic nature it is miscible with acetone, water, and chloroform. It is used as solvent, acts as an emulsifier and excipient, holds and dissolves active ingredients equally in the medium, and reduces freezing points. It is commonly manufactured in two grades namely, industrial grade or technical grade and USD/EP grade.
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Propylene glycol is used in wide variety of applications namely cosmetics & personal care products, unsaturated polyester resins, liquid detergents, functional fluids and antifreezes. Whereas dipropylene glycol is used in plasticizers, unsaturated polyester resin, and personal care applications. Tripropylene glycol is used in the production of acrylates and polyurethanes. Propylene glycol is also used as a humectant, preservative in tobacco and food products, solvents and as a major constituent of e-liquid that is used in electric cigarettes with vegetable glycerin.
The market for propylene glycol can be segmented on the basis of source into petroleum based and bio based. Based on applications, the market for propylene glycol can be divided into food, pharmaceuticals & cosmetics, liquid detergents, unsaturated polyester resin, antifreeze & functional fluids, plasticizers, and others. On the basis of end use industry, the market for propylene glycol has been segregated into building & construction, food & beverage, transportation, pharmaceuticals & cosmetics, and others.
The market for propylene is anticipated to witness strong growth during the forecast period owing to the growth of various end user industries. In terms of source segment, petroleum based held significant share of the market in 2016 owing to its active usage in transportation and building & construction industries. However, bio based segment can be considered as fast growing owing to the shifting focus of market towards whole sustainable green package. In terms of application, unsaturated polyester resin held prominent share of the market in 2016 which is anticipated to witness strong growth during the forecast period. Unsaturated polyester resin is followed by food, pharmaceuticals & cosmetics segment in 2016. Ascending building & construction industry, coupled with increasing investments in emerging economies such as China, India, and Brazil for the infrastructural development is driving this segment. In terms of end use segment, transportation segment is anticipated to be fast growing, owing to the increasing sales of automobiles. Moreover, the increase in the use of propylene glycols in applications such as aircraft deicing fluid, automotive coolants, and hydraulic & brake fluids, is also driving this end-use industry.
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Geographically, Asia Pacific held significant share of the market in 2016 owing to the rapid industrialization and improving living standards of people in emerging economies such as India and China. Robust automotive manufacturing industry is the key factor propelling the growth of this market in Asia Pacific. Demand for unsaturated polyester resins is heavily influenced by regional construction industry trends and the overall health of local economies. They are consumed primarily in the construction, marine and transportation industries. Thus growth of unsaturated polyester resin market in Europe is driving propylene glycol market.
Key players operating in the market of propylene glycol are BASF SE, Lyondellbasell Industries N.V., Huntsman Corporation, and The DOW Chemical Company.
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