Growing public concerns of environment pollution has persuade many industries to replace petroleum based propylene glycol with bio-based propylene glycol. As compared to petroleum based propylene glycol, the production of bio-based propylene glycol is based on eco-friendly methods of manufacturing, requires lesser amount of petrochemical feedstock, and produces low amount of greenhouse gases. In the last few years, companies, such as Huntsman, have made investments in the development of commercial technology that can be used in the production of propylene glycol directly from the glycerine that is a by-product of biodiesel production.

The propylene Glycol market is forecast to reach $5 billion by 2025 and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 4%. The growth of propylene glycol market can be attributed to the growing consumption of propylene glycol in Indian and Chinese economies. In the last few years, the effective growth of Indian and Chinese automotive, construction, F&B, and pharmaceutical sectors has revived the growth of propylene glycol.

Propylene glycol is derived from either petroleum, natural gas, or vegetable sources and unsaturated polyester resins is derived from propylene glycol. The decline in crude oil prices has reduced the manufacturing cost of unsaturated polyester resins and has made them a preferred materials in building and construction and various other industries. In Asia-Pacific’s and Europe’s building and construction industry, application of unsaturated polyester resins is expected to grow at the highest rates. 

Key Insights on Propylene Glycol
  • Bio-based propylene glycol has a low toxicity level and many bio-based propylene glycol products are listed as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) for use in food and pharmaceuticals. Due to this reason, the usage of bio-based propylene is increasing in North American and European pharmaceutical and food industries.
  • Compared to ethylene glycol, propylene glycol has low toxicity level and due to this reason, vehicle manufacturers and end users prefer propylene glycol based products such as coolants, antifreeze, and hydraulic and brake fluid in their vehicles. In the last few years, Asia Pacific region has arisen as a major market of vehicles and the growth of vehicles sales in this region would accelerate the usage of propylene glycol based products. According to Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d'Automobiles (OICA), in 2017, total vehicle sales in Asia-Pacific region registered a 4.3 % growth in 2017. 
  • LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) has emerged as new trend in building and construction industry and propylene glycol monomethyl ether is a major compound used to maintain the indoor air quality of the buildings. In the last few years, Canada and China have emerged as major front runners in the LEED building industry. According to US Green Building Council (USGBC) ranking, in 2018, Canada has 3,254 LEED building projects while China has 1,494 LEED building projects.
  • In air travel industry, propylene glycol has emerged as a replacement for ethylene glycol, which is used as the base fluid for aircraft de-icing formulations. De-icing fluids performs a vital operation in providing safe, uninterrupted and timely air travel during extreme winter conditions. According to International Air Transport Association, in 2018, North American airlines passenger capacity, based on available seat kilometres (ASK) register a year on year (y-o-y) growth of 4.9% while European airlines passenger capacity, based on ASK, register a year on year (y-o-y) growth of 6.6%. The growth in the airlines passenger capacity in these two regions would play a pivotal role in escalating the usage of propylene glycol in air the travel industry.

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Propylene glycol manufacturers have strengthened their positions by adopting number of strategies including mergers & acquisitions, product launches, expansion, and partnerships. For instance, in 2018, Archer Daniels Midland Company entered into a partnership with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to produce Bio-based propylene glycol. The industry experts estimating the market will see major partnerships and product launches, related to Bio-based propylene glycol, in the coming years which will further help to drive the growth of the market.

The unsaturated polyester resins are used to form fibre glass reinforced plastics, which are tough, lightweight composites, and these fibre glass reinforced plastics are used to make building panels, bathroom components, fixtures and corrosion-resistant tanks, pipes and ducts. The building and construction market in China and other Asian countries is estimated to continue growing at high rates; while in Europe, Brexit has persuaded many companies to shift their operational base from UK to other European countries and thereby Brexit escalated the growth for commercial office space industry in Germany and many other European countries. Brexit is going to accelerate the construction activities in many parts of the Europe, excluding UK, while growing foreign direct investment (FDI) will support infrastructure development activities in APAC countries such as India. According to Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion of India, in FY2018, FDI related to Indian infrastructure activities registered a 40 percent growth on a y-o-y basis. However, construction expenditure in the U.S. increased by 3.5% in the first quarter of 2019 as compared to 4.5% during the same period in 2018.  The growing building and construction activities in the Asia and Europe will escalate the demand for fibre glass reinforced plastics and thereby will play an important role in driving the growth of propylene glycol in the near future.

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