“Surface Active Agent” also called as surfactants, are a group of organic compounds that lowers the interfacial tension between liquids or the surface tension of a liquid. Generally, these are used as detergents or wetting agents, emulsifiers or foaming agents. Globally, anionic surfactants account for the largest share in the surfactants market. Surfactants finds usage across various applications such as detergents, soaps, textiles, personal care, oilfield chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food, elastomers, crop protection, and plastics amongst others.
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Anionic surfactants account for the largest share of the commodity surfactants market. Growing crude oil prices and environmental regulations are expected to increase the demand for bio-based anionic surfactants. In terms of volume, the three largest anionic surfactants were alpha-olefin sulfonates, linear alkylbenzene sulfonates and alcohol ether sulfates. All these anionic surfactants are ethylene based, which is a petrochemical derivative. Bio-based anionic surfactants include alcohol ether sulfate (AES) and methyl ester sulfonate (MES). Methyl ester sulfonate (MES) is produced from palm oil and alcohol ether sulfate is produced from coconut oil. Both the bio-based anionic surfactants namely alcohol ether sulfate and methyl ether sulfate can also substitute few of the other ethylene based anionic surfactants. In terms of properties, bio-based anionic surfactants have all the desirable properties that are required for personal care and detergent products.
The main restraints of the synthetic surfactants market are the volatile raw material prices and environment regulations, these factors act as drivers for the bio-based surfactants market. Anionic surfactants are largely ethylene based and hence are prone to price and supply fluctuations. The increase in production cost due to raw material price fluctuation has put strains on the profit margins of synthetic surfactants. This volatility of supply and price fluctuation during the pricing of their products has made it difficult for the surfactant producers to transfer the increased price to their customers, or they risk of losing the market share. The current market demand for environment friendly alternatives has led to boost the demand for bio-based anionic surfactants. All these aspects are anticipated to drive the market for bio-based anionic surfactants in the near future.
In initial stage of growth, bio-based surfactant market is being used as a substitute for synthetic surfactants in various applications. Moreover, the scope for bio-based surfactant is wide as the synthetic surfactants market is a relatively mature market. High comparative prices and technological constraints might act as a restraint to the growth of bio-based anionic surfactants market.
The regions such as North America, Europe, and Japan contribute to a larger share of demand for bio-based anionic surfactants. In these regions, consumers are more aware about the environmental benefits of these products and tend to prefer environment friendly alternatives. Moreover, environment regulations in these regions have led to an increase in demand for bio-based anionic surfactants. The demand for bio-based anionic surfactants in regions such as Asia Pacific and Rest of the World is anticipated to witness strong growth over the next few years. High price and supply fluctuations of petrochemical products and reducing dependence on crude oil is likely to drive the demand for bio-based substitutes and consequently bio-based anionic surfactants.
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Some of the major companies operating in the global calcium carbide market are AGAE Technologies, BASF SE, Clariant AG, Rhodia SA, Henkel, Stepan Company, The Dow Chemical Company and AkzoNobel N.V. among others.