July 18, 2019 by Steve Blade
Linear mercaptans are simply straight chain derivatives of alkanes with Sulfur- Hydrogen (-SH) functional group and are chemically acidic in nature. Generally, linear mercaptans are colorless liquids except methane mercaptans (gas). Linear mercaptans have a skunk smell and are also used as odor agents. They are generally manufactured by using hydrogen sulphide, alpha olefins or alcohols. The major markets for linear mercaptans are polymer modification and agricultural industries. Major manufacturers are concentrated in European and North American regions. This indicates the opportunities for new players to enter the market and expand in regions like Asia Pacific. With advancements in new technologies and their increasing penetration in emerging markets, the demand for Linear Mercaptans from end-use industries is expected to increase rapidly.
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Linear mercaptans are used in a wide range of applications not limiting to polymer modification. The polymer modification field is growing at very high rate due to the necessity and advancement in the areas of bio medical polymers. Biomedical plastic accounts for around 10% of global plastic demand. Besides, with growing automotive sector, the demand for paints & coating is also on a rise, thus driving the growth of linear mercaptans in paints & coating applications. The demand for n-hexane mercaptan is increasing heavily for manufacturing agricultural intermediates and pesticides. The use of n-octyl mercaptan is also increasing as polymerization regulator in rubber industry. N-dodecyl mercaptan (C12) is the most consumed linear mercaptan as it is used for ore floatation in mining industry, particularly copper ore. Copper production is expected to increase as there is a push in the electronics industry in South Asia region. With new emerging telecommunication technologies like 5G there will be a boost in the production of copper, thus increasing the demand of n-dodecyl mercaptan. Also, the demand for n-Dodecyl mercaptan is increasing from the fast growing footwear industry as it is used as polymerization inhabitor in manufacturing of polyurethane and neoprene adhesives that are used in the footwear industry.
Linear mercaptans have a huge demand in food, agrochemical and pharmaceutical industry due to its unique property of protein regeneration. Oil and gas industries use linear mercaptans as an odorant in alert systems. Besides, automotive and chemical industries also use linear mercaptans for manufacturing of lubricants and as a solvent.
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As linear mercaptans have a foul odor, there are developments in substitute of odorless compounds for polymer modifications. Besides, linear mercaptans are hazardous in nature. Their prolonged exposure has very adverse effects. They can cause serious respiratory disorder and skin irritation. Fluctuating raw material cost is also one of the main restraints to the growth of linear mercaptans market.
Linear Mercaptans: Regional Outlook
North America and Europe together are estimated to account for over 35 - 45% of global linear mercaptans demand with key producers having their linear mercaptans manufacturing facilities in the regions. East-Asia on the back of China is anticipated to witness a medium to high growth in the global linear mercaptans market during the forecast period. Moreover, North America followed by Europe are projected to showcase moderate growth in the global linear mercaptans market with Japan following a trend similar to these regions. Middle East & Africa and Latin America account for a mere single digit market share in terms of linear mercaptans demand.
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