|Phenol and acetone are two basic chemicals to manufacture derivative products which eventually become essential ingredients in numerous beneficial products that consumers use every day. Phenol also known as carbolic acid is an organic compound that contains a six-membered aromatic ring, bonded directly to a hydroxyl group. It is produced on a large scale as a precursor to many materials and useful compounds. Pure phenol is a white crystalline solid, smelling of disinfectant. It has to be handled with great care because it causes immediate white blistering to the skin. The crystals are often rather wet and discolored. There is a large commercial importance of Phenol and many methods have been developed for its production. The main route being practiced presently involves the partial oxidation of cumene (isopropylbenzene) via the Hock rearrangement. The main chemical intermediates and derivatives of phenol are bisphenol-A (BPA), which is used to make polycarbonate (PC) and epoxy resins, phenolic resins, caprolactam, alkylphenols, aniline and adipic acid. The largest market for phenol is BPA which has been driven by the strong growth in polycarbonate resins. The driving force in polycarbonate demand had been growth in optical media such as compact discs (CDs), CD-ROMs, recordable CDs and digital versatile discs (DVDs). BPA’s other main derivative is epoxy resins which are used in high performance coatings, electrical-electronic laminates, adhesives, flooring and paving applications, and composites. The economic downturn will have impacted epoxy resin markets but long term growth is expected to be 5%/year globally. The second largest outlet for phenol is phenolic resins which are largely used as durable binders and adhesives in structural wood panels and as binders in mineral wool insulation. They have a wide spectrum of uses in the automotive and construction industries including brake linings, foundry binders, insulation foams and composites. Caprolactam is the next largest consumer of phenol and is used mainly to make nylon 6 fibres, engineering resins and film. It is also used to make adhesives, paint, rubber, ink, dyes, perfume and soap. Several pharmaceutical products such as antiseptics, topical anaesthetics, throat lozenges and ear drops also contain phenol, as well as disinfectants. It is used in dermatology for chemical face peeling. According to Michael Foeste, phenol product manager at Mitsui & Co Deutschland, worldwide phenol growth is expected to return to around 5%/year through to 2015. Total demand will reach 10.6m tonnes by 2015. On the other hand, acetone (CH3COCH3) is a water-white, highly combustible liquid with a boiling point of 56°C (133° F). It is an organic compound which is miscible with water and serves as an important solvent in its own right, typically as the solvent of choice for cleaning purposes in the laboratory. The two main uses for acetone are in the manufacture of methyl methacrylate (MMA) and bisphenol-A (BPA). The largest use for acetone is in the manufacture of acetone cyanohydrin, which is a precursor to MMA and methacrylic acid. An important derivative of MMA is polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) which is used to make acrylic products: cast and extruded sheet, acrylic mouldings and extrusion compounds. The Indian installed capacity for phenol is around 86000 metric tonnes per annum and the installed capacity for acetone is 51600 metric tonnes per annum. The Indian demand for phenol was around 177000 per annum last year. The projected demand supply gap for phenol is around 152600 metric tonnes per annum in 2014-2015. In a similar way the Indian installed capacity for acetone is around 50,000 metric tonnes per annum and the installed capacity for acetone is 51600 metric tonnes per annum. The Indian demand for acetone was around 117500 per annum two years back. The projected demand supply gap for acetone is around 67500 metric tonnes per annum in 2014-2015. Hence new capacities have to be created to meet the new demand. There is an ample space and growth potential for phenol and acetone. New entrepreneurs should venture into this segment.|
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