Focus on Cellulose ethers

How is the development status of cellulose ether industry?

1. Classification of cellulose ethers

Cellulose is the main component of plant cell walls, and is the most widely distributed and most abundant polysaccharide in nature, accounting for more than 50% of the carbon content in the plant kingdom. Among them, the cellulose content of cotton is close to 100%, which is the purest natural cellulose source. In general wood, cellulose accounts for 40-50%, and there are 10-30% hemicellulose and 20-30% lignin.

Cellulose ether can be divided into single ether and mixed ether according to the number of substituents, and can be divided into ionic cellulose ether and non-ionic cellulose ether according to ionization. Common cellulose ethers can be divided into Attributes.

2. Application and function of cellulose ether

Cellulose ether has the reputation of “industrial monosodium glutamate”. It has excellent properties such as solution thickening, good water solubility, suspension or latex stability, film forming, water retention, and adhesion. It is also non-toxic and tasteless, and is widely used in Building materials, medicine, food, textiles, daily chemicals, petroleum exploration, mining, papermaking, polymerization, aerospace and many other fields. Cellulose ether has the advantages of wide application, small unit usage, good modification effect, and environmental friendliness. It can significantly improve and optimize product performance in the field of its addition, which is conducive to improving resource utilization efficiency and product added value. Environmentally friendly additives that are essential in various fields.

3. Cellulose ether industry chain

The upstream raw material of cellulose ether is mainly refined cotton/cotton pulp/wood pulp, which is alkalized to obtain cellulose, and then propylene oxide and methyl chloride are added for etherification to obtain cellulose ether. Cellulose ethers are divided into non-ionic and ionic, and their downstream applications involve building materials/coatings, medicine, food additives, etc.

4. Analysis of the market status of China’s cellulose ether industry

a) Production capacity

After more than ten years of hard work, my country’s cellulose ether industry has grown from scratch and experienced rapid development. Its competitiveness in the same industry in the world is increasing day by day, and it has formed a huge industrial scale and localization in the building materials market. Advantages, import substitution has been basically realized. According to statistics, my country’s cellulose ether production capacity will be 809,000 tons/year in 2021, and the capacity utilization rate will be 80%. The tensile stress is 82%.

b) Production situation

In terms of output, according to statistics, my country’s cellulose ether output will be 648,000 tons in 2021, a decrease of 2.11% year-on-year in 2020. It is expected that my country’s cellulose ether output will increase year by year in the next three years, reaching 756,000 tons by 2024.

c) Distribution of downstream demand

According to statistics, domestic cellulose ether downstream building materials accounted for 33%, the petroleum field accounted for 16%, the food field accounted for 15%, the pharmaceutical field accounted for 8%, and other fields accounted for 28%.

Against the background of the policy of housing, housing and no speculation, the real estate industry has entered a stage of adjustment. However, driven by policies, the replacement of cement mortar by tile adhesive will bring about an increase in the demand for building material grade cellulose ether. On December 14, 2021, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development issued an announcement prohibiting the “cement mortar paste process for facing bricks”. Adhesives such as tile adhesives are downstream of cellulose ether. As a substitute for cement mortar, they have the advantages of high bonding strength and are not easy to age and fall off. However, due to the high cost of use, the popularity rate is low. In the context of the prohibition of the cement mixing mortar process, it is expected that the popularization of tile adhesives and other adhesives will bring about an increase in the demand for building material grade cellulose ether.

d) Import and export

From the perspective of import and export, the export volume of the domestic cellulose ether industry is greater than the import volume, and the export growth rate is fast. From 2015 to 2021, the export volume of domestic cellulose ether increased from 40,700 tons to 87,900 tons, with a CAGR of 13.7%. Stable, fluctuating between 9,500-18,000 tons.

In terms of import and export value, according to statistics, as of the first half of 2022, the import value of my country’s cellulose ether was 79 million US dollars, a year-on-year decrease of 4.45%, and the export value was 291 million US dollars, a year-on-year increase of 78.18%.

Germany, South Korea and the United States are the main sources of imports of cellulose ether in my country. According to statistics, imports of cellulose ether from Germany, South Korea and the United States accounted for 34.28%, 28.24% and 19.09% respectively in 2021, followed by imports from Japan and Belgium. 9.06% and 6.62%, and imports from other regions accounted for 3.1%.

There are many export regions of cellulose ether in my country. According to statistics, in 2021, 12,200 tons of cellulose ether will be exported to Russia, accounting for 13.89% of the total export volume, 8,500 tons to India, accounting for 9.69%, and exported to Turkey, Thailand and China. Brazil accounted for 6.55%, 6.34% and 5.05% respectively, and exports from other regions accounted for 58.48%.

e) Apparent consumption

According to statistics, the apparent consumption of cellulose ether in my country will drop slightly from 2019 to 2021, and will be 578,000 tons in 2021, a year-on-year decrease of 4.62%. It is increasing year by year and is expected to reach 644,000 tons by 2024.

f) Analysis of Competitive Landscape of Cellulose Ether Industry

Dow of the United States, Shin-Etsu of Japan, Ashland of the United States, and Lotte of Korea are the most important suppliers of non-ionic cellulose ethers in the world, and they mainly focus on high-end pharmaceutical grade cellulose ethers. Among them, Dow and Japan’s Shin-Etsu respectively have a production capacity of 100,000 tons/year of non-ionic cellulose ethers, with a wide range of products.

The supply of domestic cellulose ether industry is relatively scattered, and the main product is building material grade cellulose ether, and the homogenization competition of products is serious. The existing domestic production capacity of cellulose ether is 809,000 tons. In the future, the new production capacity of the domestic industry will mainly come from Shandong Heda and Qingshuiyuan. Shandong Heda’s existing non-ionic cellulose ether production capacity is 34,000 tons/year. It is estimated that by 2025, Shandong Heda’s cellulose ether production capacity will reach 105,000 tons/year. In 2020, it is expected to become the world’s leading supplier of cellulose ethers and increase the concentration of the domestic industry.

g) Analysis on the Development Trend of China’s Cellulose Ether Industry

Market Development Trend of Building Material Grade Cellulose Ether:

Thanks to the improvement of my country’s urbanization level, the rapid development of the building materials industry, the continuous improvement of the level of construction mechanization, and the increasing environmental protection requirements of consumers for building materials have driven the demand for non-ionic cellulose ethers in the field of building materials. The “Outline of the Fourteenth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development” proposes to coordinate the promotion of traditional infrastructure and new infrastructure construction, and create a modern infrastructure system that is complete, efficient, practical, intelligent, green, safe and reliable.

In addition, on February 14, 2020, the twelfth meeting of the Central Committee for Comprehensively Deepening Reform pointed out that “new infrastructure” is the direction of my country’s infrastructure construction in the future. The meeting proposed that “infrastructure is an important support for economic and social development. Guided by synergy and integration, coordinate the development of stock and incremental, traditional and new infrastructure, and create an intensive, efficient, economical, smart, green, safe and reliable modern infrastructure system.” The implementation of “new infrastructure” is conducive to the advancement of my country’s urbanization in the direction of intelligence and technology, and is conducive to increasing the domestic demand for building material grade cellulose ether.

h) Market Development Trend of Pharmaceutical Grade Cellulose Ether

Cellulose ethers are widely used in film coatings, adhesives, pharmaceutical films, ointments, dispersants, vegetable capsules, sustained and controlled release preparations and other fields of pharmaceuticals. As a skeleton material, cellulose ether has the functions of prolonging the drug effect time and promoting drug dispersion and dissolution; as a capsule and coating, it can avoid degradation and cross-linking and curing reactions, and is an important raw material for the production of pharmaceutical excipients. The application technology of pharmaceutical grade cellulose ether is mature in developed countries.

Food-grade cellulose ether is a recognized safe food additive. It can be used as a food thickener, stabilizer and moisturizer to thicken, retain water, and improve taste. It is widely used in developed countries, mainly for baking Foodstuffs, collagen casings, non-dairy cream, fruit juices, sauces, meat and other protein products, fried foods, etc. China, the United States, the European Union and many other countries allow HPMC and ionic cellulose ether CMC to be used as food additives.

The proportion of food-grade cellulose ether used in food production in my country is relatively low. The main reason is that domestic consumers started late to understand the function of cellulose ether as a food additive, and it is still in the application and promotion stage in the domestic market. In addition, the price of food-grade cellulose ether is relatively high. There are fewer areas of use in production. With the improvement of people’s awareness of healthy food, the consumption of cellulose ether in the domestic food industry is expected to further increase.

Post time: Mar-01-2023
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