The U.S. single-handedly processed 25 million tons of ethylene in the past year. As such, market research firm Ceresana has analyzed the entire ethylene value chain in a specific region, namely the U.S.
"This is the worldwide first study of its kind, it provides complete transparency of the ethylene market, beginning with feedstocks up to the final products," said Oliver Kutsch, CEO of Ceresana. "The value added in downstream sectors is considerable. Besides polyethylene plastics, direct applications of ethylene include important chemicals such as alpha olefins used to increase rigidity of polyethylene, ethylene oxide needed in the manufacturing of PET plastics, and ethylbenzene, which is predominantly processed into polystyrene. Other applications are vinyl acetate monomer and the elastomer EPDM."
Shale gas boom
Ethylene is mainly produced from ethane, propane, butane and naphtha. The shale gas boom in the U.S. resulted in a surge of announcements to construct new ethane crackers. Until 2018, U.S. ethylene capacity is scheduled to increase by about half. Compared to other feedstocks, cracking of ethane yields a rather high amount of ethylene. Ceresana forecast about three quarters of ethylene output to be based on ethane in 2021.