Isopropanol has gained immense significance as an effective solvent across various industrial sectors in light of its complete miscibility in most of the solvents including water. Isopropanol has been deemed as an accurate solvent for compounds such as natural & epoxy resins, alkaloids, ethyl cellulose, and essential oils. Fast evaporating property of isopropanol that leaves zero oil traces, and its lower toxicity, coupled with the estimated future phase out of ethanol will continue to augur well for its market growth in the near future.
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On account of its miscibility in non-polar solvents, isopropanol has gained traction as an essential prerequisite for cleaning pores present in electronic components. The compound witnessed robust demand as a popular cleaner in the semiconductor and electronics industries, as it readily dissolves ionic flux residues, light organic contaminants, and dirt particles. Referred to rubbing alcohol, isopropanol is increasingly being used as a sterilizer and disinfectant in home applications.
Prospects of the isopropanol market will remain modest, as the industry matures and witnesses confinements in innovations & developments. A recent Fact.MR report estimates nearly 3750 thousand tons of isopropanol to be sold worldwide by 2028-end. The report states that Isopropanol market in North America and Europe represents a consolidated landscape, while in Asia-Pacific excluding Japan (APEJ) the market is ruled by small and medium-sized enterprises. The report systematically represents an intensity-based presence of key players in the isopropanol market through a graph as illustrated below.
Isopropanol Market: Uptake of Electronic- & Pharmaceutical-Grade Variants
Isopropanol forms an integral ingredient in the production of rubbing alcohol, disinfecting pads, and hand sanitizer. The compound also serves as an efficacious skin soother, and pain reliever. Banking on these attributes of isopropanol, pharmaceutical companies highly seek its pharmaceutical-grade variant for use as a solvent during the production of pharmaceutical products that comprise 67-70% isopropanol in water. In addition, isopropanol observes robust adoption in the DNA extraction process during research & development activities of the pharmaceutical industry.
Semiconductor- or electronic-grade isopropanol is sought-after for use as an exclusive cleaner and solvent in the industry. Demand for electronic-grade isopropanol has witnessed a significant surge, backed by the proliferation in semiconductor ICs and consumer electronics. Leading stakeholders are adopting capacity extension strategies to keep up with the rising demand. In 2017, Sumitomo Chemical commenced construction of new plant for production of high purity isopropanol in China.
Isopropanol Market: Price Fluctuations to Remain a Key Growth Deterrent
Isopropanol witnessed a notable rise in domestic and spot prices in first quarter of 2017, on account of increasing costs of feedstock propylene. Amid broadening demand-supply gap, major isopropanol manufacturers that include LyondellBasell, Monument, Shell, and ExxonMobil independently raised their isopropanol costs, and the trend continued in 2018, with these stakeholders announcing a price hike of 5 cents/lb. Isopropanol industry’s future growth will be significantly affected from these price fluctuations. Additionally, growing crude oil costs driven by the prevailing oil crisis will continue to influence the expansion of the isopropanol market.
A key trend being observed in the isopropanol market is increasing use of the compound as a biofuel. Recent studies conducted to devise engineered synthetic pathways to produce isopropanol from microbes point at the potential of isopropanol’s used as a biofuel to replace gasoline. In addition, isopropanol’s production using lignocellulosic waste has represented a lucrative avenue for economically-viable manufacturing of the compound. The imminent era of green chemicals, which promotes adoption of bio-based chemicals, will significantly complement such biological production methods of isopropanol in the upcoming years.
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