Cellulose ether is produced from refined, short cotton fibers or wood fibers. Cellulose ether is a water-soluble polymer, which has high molecular weight. It is produced through the chemical modification of cellulose. Cellulose ether has several characteristics such as water solubility, surface activity, binding, water retention, pH stability, and emulsification.
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These properties differ on the basis of the type of cellulose used for the production of cellulose ether. The manufacturing process of cellulose ether is a complex procedure, which starts with the extraction of cellulose from raw materials. The extracted cellulose is then converted into alkaline cellulose under the action of sodium hydroxide, which is then treated with etherifying agents to get cellulose ether. Cellulose ethers are known for their efficiency and they often give better performance at low concentration in comparison with other water-soluble polymers.
Based on solubility, the cellulosic ether market can be segregated into water-soluble solvents and organic solvents. Based on product type, the market has been segregated into ethyl cellulose, methyl cellulose, carboxyl methyl cellulose, hydroxyl propyl methyl cellulose, and hydroxyl ethyl methyl cellulose. In terms of application, the market for cellulose ether can be divided into construction, oil & gas, pharmaceuticals, daily chemicals, ceramics, paints & coatings, surface coatings, food & beverages, and detergents.
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The market for cellulose ether is anticipated to expand at a significant pace during the forecast period, owing to unique properties of cellulose ether, which cannot be substituted with any other, economical alternative. Additionally, the availability of raw materials required for the production of cellulose ether and low cost of production can propel the global demand for cellulose ether during the forecast period. Properties of cellulose ether including surface activity make it act as a stabilizer as well as a thickener in aqueous solutions. This makes cellulose ether useful in various industries such as PVC products, cosmetics, construction, and petroleum.
Among product types, the carboxyl methyl cellulose segment held a significant share of the cellulose ether market in 2015 and is projected to maintain its leading position during the forecast period. This is attributable to major uses of cellulose ether in pharmaceuticals, industrial, personal care, and food & beverages sectors. Among applications, construction and food & beverages segments are expanding at a significant rate, owing to the increasing population coupled with rising standards of living.
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Although demand for cellulose ether is increasing, some factors can hinder the growth of the cellulose ether market during the forecast period. Low-priced guar gum, which is used as an alternative for cellulose ether, can hinder its usage in several industries such as paints & coatings and food & beverages.
Geographically, Asia Pacific held a key share of the global cellulose ether market in 2015. The market in the region is projected to expand at a rapid pace, owing to presence of emerging economies such as India and China in the region. Increasing population coupled with the availability of cheap labor required for the production of cellulose ether can fuel the demand for cellulose ether in Asia Pacific. Growth of application sectors such as pharmaceuticals, food & beverages, construction, and personal care is driving the cellulose ether market in Asia Pacific. The markets in North America and Europe are mature and are expected to witness moderate growth during the forecast period, owing to saturation of the markets. Major players operating in the market for cellulose ether are strategizing to shift their production facilities to emerging economies of Asia Pacific such as Malaysia, China, and India. This can be attributed to the low cost of production of cellulose ether and easy availability of raw materials in these countries.
Major players operating in the global market for cellulose ether are The Dow Chemical Company, Ashland, Akzo Nobel N.V., and Shin-Etsu Chemical Co.
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