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The increasing demand for dyes, plasticizers and resins has led to the strong growth of ortho-xylene market. Phthalic anhydride (a major application of ortho-xylene) is used to produce plasticizers, which are mainly employed in the construction of industries and automobiles. The primary end-users of phthalic anhydrides are unsaturated polyester resins and phthalates, which show extensive growth opportunities in near future. With the increased economic and industrial development in China, resulting in the rise in the per capita income, there has been an increase in the consumption of various solvents and major end-products of ortho-xylene such as PVC pipes and other related products.
Ortho-xylene is a commercial isomer of xylene. It consists of at least 95% ortho-xylene and five percent para-xylene and meta-xylene. Xylenes are petrochemicals formed by the coal carbonization process and catalytic reforming, which is used in the manufacture of coke fuel. They are used in medical technologies and various industries as solvents. Among other forms, xylenes occur naturally in coal and wood tar. There are three types of xylenes: ortho-xylene (o-xylene), meta-xylene (m-xylene) and para-xylene (p-xylene). Further, ortho-xylene is used in solvent-based paints. The extraction of ortho-xylene is done through distillation from the xylene stream in a plant intended for para-xylene production. It is a constitutional isomer of meta-xylene and para-xylene. Moreover, ortho-xylene is produced with its isomers meta-xylene and para-xylene. Friedel-Crafts alkylation of toluene produces a mixture of the purest form of ortho-xylene. It is used in alkyd resins that have extensive applications in the coating industry. Ortho-xylene has a huge demand in petrochemical production.
On the basis of application, ortho-xylene is majorly used in the production of phthalic anhydride (PAN), an aromatic acid anhydride. Nearly 90% of ortho-xylene produced globally is used in the manufacturing of phthalic anhydride, which is commercially available as a colorless molten material with a strong smell or as white, free-flowing fragments. Phthalic anhydride is used in the production of plasticizers such as poly vinyl chloride (PVC). Ortho-xylene is frequently produced along with para-xylene during isomerization and is recovered separately. It is also used in the manufacture of lubricating oil additives, herbicides and bactericides. Ortho-xylene is based on benzene (hydrocarbon) with two methyl substituents attached to the aromatic ring and exists in a liquid state at room temperature. It is used extensively for making phthalic anhydride (PAN), mainly in dio-octyl phthalate for poly vinyl chloride.
One key trend emerging in the global ortho-xylene market is the huge growth of the ortho-xylene market in China. Volatility of crude oil prices is a major challenge in the global ortho-xylene market, which is affecting the profitability of ortho-xylene producers. Xylene prices are directly related to international crude oil prices. The instability of crude oil prices has a direct impact on xylene prices. The increased commercial usage of recyclable products in many developed countries has led to decrease in demand of phthalic anhydride which is another major factor hindering the growth of the ortho-xylene market.
The U.S. is witnessing slow growth in the ortho-xylene industry because of the decrease in demand for PVC, herbicides and bactericides. Key competitors in the ortho-xylene market are Formosa Plastics Corporation, U.S.A., Reliance Industries Limited, ExxonMobil Corporation, China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation, Honeywell International Inc.. Other prominent competitors in this market are DTE Energy Company, Tesco, KP Chemical Corp. and others.