Methanol is primarily used to manufacture methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), dimethyl ether (DME), formaldehyde, methyl methacrylate (MMA), and acetic acid. It is also known as methyl alcohol or wood alcohol. It is used in liquefied petroleum gas in conjunction with DME, as a cooking fuel in China. China was the largest producer of methanol in 2012 with a 54% global capacity and 43% in terms of production. —
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Formaldehyde is accountable for almost one-third of the global methanol demand. It is used to manufacture adhesives, protective coatings, man-made boards, and textiles. The market production is predicted to grow at a 23% CAGR over the forecast period (2014-2018).
China meets major of its demands from imports. These imports are mainly from Iran, Middle East, New Zealand, and others. MTBE is currently facing a decline due to the emphasis to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Acetic acid enjoyed high growth in 2014 due to a steady demand.
The automotive industry is anticipated to trigger a huge demand from the market, since China produces the largest output. Methanol is mixed with animal fat or vegetable oil to manufacture bio-diesel. China currently produces 200-600 metric tons of MTO (methane-to-olefins) every year.
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Among the Chinese regions, Northwest China has a production capacity of almost 14 million tons. This capacity is based on raw material used for production. This is expected to boost the use of olefins in the coming years. Inner Mongolia is expected to produce 600,000 tons of olefins. The market expects to lead over the forecast period due to stringent environment regulations placed on Europe and North America. It expects to cater to the huge demand in the energy sector in the absence of depleting fuel reserves.
Methanol has been popular to be used in marine ships, as evident by the purchase of two 50,000 dwt (deadweight tonnage) ships by Westfal-Larsen Management in April 2016. The cost of building methanol-run ships is less than relying on its alternative, marine fuel.
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Major companies operating in China’s methanol market are China XLX Fertilizer Ltd., Concord Technology (Tianjin) Co. Ltd., Ningbo Fund Energy, Zhejiang Widehigh Investment Co. Ltd., and Sinoagro Chemicals Co. Ltd. Moreover, renewable methanol is predicted to create market opportunities.
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