Opportunities in Production of Monochloroacetic Acid (MCAA)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

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Opportunities in Production of Monochloroacetic Acid (MCAA). An essential ingredient in the Chemical Industry


Monochloroacetic Acid (MCAA) is a specialty organochlorine compound, also known as chloroacetic acid. It is the building block in organic synthesis, and is hence used in the production of various chemical compounds, drugs, and agrochemicals. Significant amount of MCAA is consumed for the production of carboxymethylcellulose (CMC), thioglycolic acid, USP grade glycine, and technical grade glycine, which is a major precursor to the production of glyphosate.

Monochloroacetic acid is a colorless, crystalline, water-soluble compound obtained by the reaction of acetic acid with chlorine. It is used to manufacture versatile intermediates required to synthesize chemicals such as carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC), 2, 4-D, glycine, thioglycolic acid, synthetic caffeine and barbiturates. Monochloroacetic acid is a halogenated derivative of acetic acid that is used as a building block in organic synthesis. It exists in three crystal modifications: alpha, beta and gamma. Commercial MCA is produced in the alpha form and is available as flakes or in water solution. Major end-user industries for monochloroacetic acid include oil drilling, personal care, agrochemicals, construction and dyes.

Monochloroacetic acid is used on a large scale in the production of carboxymethyl cellulose. The extensive use of carboxymethyl cellulose in oil drilling is forecast to drive the global monochloroacetic acid market. The rising demand for agrochemicals such as glyphosate is also expected to augment the monochloroacetic acid market. However, the manufacturers of monochloroacetic acid are constantly challenged by the volatility of the prices of raw materials such as methanol and acetic acid. This will curtail the growth of the market. Chloroacetic acid is used widely in various activities in mining. The rising taconite and iron ore mining activities will create new opportunities for the global monochloroacetic acid market.

Monochloroacetic acid (MCA) is broadly used in chemical industries in the manufacture of carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC). Hence, the demand for CMC is expected to rise exponentially due to an increase in industrial applications. Moreover, rising population and increasing demand for agricultural products is expected to trigger growth of monochloroacetic acid. Increasing demand from glyphosate is also likely to boost the demand for monochloroacetic acid during the years to come.

Cellulosics, agrochemicals, thioglycolic acid, surfactants and others are the key application segments of monochloroacetic acid market. Cellulosics was the largest application market for monochloroacetic acid market. Cellulosics segment accounted for over 30.0% share of total market, in 2014. Agrochemicals application segment is expected to be the second largest segment in this market. Thioglycolic acid, surfactants and others application are also expected to dominate the global monochloroacetic acid market.

Being a major intermediate constituent in the synthesis of organic components, it is mainly applied in the production of carboxymethylcellulose and starch as the thickening agent for paper, oil drilling, detergents, pharmaceutical, and food applications. Monochloroacetic acid is also used in the manufacturing of insecticides such as dimethoates, as a raw material for betaine personal care product, in agrochemical production such as MCPA herbicides, thioglycolic acid ester as additives in cosmetics, and thioglycolic acid for UV-light stabilizer and even in synthetics caffeine, glycine, and vitamin and malonates production. This vast scope of application demands large amounts of monochloroacetic acid.

The global monochloroacetic acid market is mainly driven by increasing demand for the production of carboxymethylcellulose, thioglycolic acid, and glycine. Significant amount of monochloroacetic acid is consumed for the production of CMC, also called as cellulose gel. Use of monochloroacetic acid imparts viscosity boosting and emulsion stabilization properties. Apart from these properties, use of MCAA in CMC production offers alteration of flow and texture of the product. Such attributes impel the use of CMC in the food & beverages industry for applications such as powdered drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and ice-cream. CMC is also widely preferred over synthetic and natural glues, which is expected to drive its demand, and in turn is expected to increase the consumption of MCAA for CMC production. These factors are likely to boost the revenue growth of the global monochloroacetic acid market over the forecast period.

Monochloroacetic acid is a basic raw material for the production of various herbicides and insecticides. Chlorpyrifos and triclopyr are widely used insecticides that are also derived from MCAA. However, the MCAA route to produce symtet generates significant amount of hazardous waste. Also, production facilities that are operated by the MCAA route face challenges such as high operation and maintenance costs that arise due to the corrosive nature of MCAA. Hence, symtet production by the MCAA route is a major challenge for producers operating in the global monochloroacetic acid market.


Pharmaceutical, paper, textiles, personal care, food & beverages, oil & gas, and chemical industries are the primary drivers for the global monochloroacetic acid market. These rapidly growing industries, especially in China and India, will foresee huge industry growth in the coming years. Growing textiles industry on account of changing fashion trends, increasing population and purchasing power parity will further fuel the monochloroacetic acid market demand in future years. Rapid growth in the above-mentioned industries has made China a preferred destination for relocation of global manufacturing facilities. Furthermore, China and India are also agricultural economies and produces synthetic fibers, jute bags, cloth, and yarn. Presence of several such industries are resulting in greater monochloroacetic acid market demand in these countries.

Growing population in emerging and change in fashion sense resulted in surge in demand for clothing and textile industry. This also expected to have positive impact on the overall market. Textile industry uses this acid as an intermediate for the fusion of indigo dyes. Betaine amphoteric surfactant which is a byproduct of monochloroacetic acid is used in the production of various hair products. Plastic industry uses monochloroacetic acid for processing PVC resins. Oil & gas industry includes this acid in drilling purposes, which requires carboxy methyl cellulose in bulk. Such diverse range of applications is expected to srive the overall monochloroacetic acid demand over the next seven years. However, volatile raw material prices may emerge as a major concern for the market growth. Ethanol which is one of the most important raw materials used in the production process of this acid is a petroleum product.

Agrochemicals segment will witness growth with over 2% CAGR in the forecast period, the segment finds maximum usage in agriculture based economies such as India, China, and Brazil. The monochloroacetic acid market in these regions will grow at an exponential rate owing to high usage of agrochemicals for crop safety and soil fertility. Moreover, they also help to enhance the crop properties and give maximum yield to the farmers. These factors will drive the regional monochloroacetic acid market largely.


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