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Cumene Market

Cumene Market: Information by Catalyst Type (Aluminum Chloride Catalyst, Solid Phosphoric Acid Catalyst), Application (Phenol, Acetone), and Region—Forecast Till 2031

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Market Overview

The global cumene market was valued at USD 20.10 billion in 2022. It is projected to reach USD 30.39 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 4.70% during the forecast period (2023-2031). Isopropyl benzene, an organic molecule based on aromatic hydrocarbons with aliphatic substitution, is the name given to cumene in its chemical form. It is a flammable, colorless liquid with a boiling point of 152°C or above that is found in crude oil and refined fuels. Friedel Crafts alkylation is the process used in the industrial production of cumene. For other uses, it is transformed into an intermediate called cumene hydroperoxide. The increased demand for phenol, acetone and its derivatives has created considerable growth potential for the cumene market worldwide. Additionally, it is projected that during the projection period, economic expansion, an increase in per capita disposable income, and a rise in the use of phenolic resins and bisphenol-A will spur market expansion.

Market Snapshot

market snapshot
Base Year
: 2022
Study Period
: 2021-2031
: 4.70 %
Fastest Growing Market
: Europe
Largest Market
: Asia Pacific
Market Size
: USD 30.39 billion by 2031
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Market Dynamics

Global Cumene Market Drivers

Rising Phenol Demand from the Plastic Industry

Cumene is an organic molecule based on aromatic hydrocarbons with an aliphatic substitution, commonly known chemically as isopropyl benzene. It is a highly flammable and colorless liquid with a boiling point of 152 °C found in crude oil and refined fuels. Friedel Crafts alkylation is the procedure used in the industrial production of cumene. For other uses, it is transformed into an intermediate called cumene hydroperoxide. When air is present, cumene oxidizes, producing cumene hydroperoxide. Cumene hydroperoxide reacts further with diluted acid to create phenols. The conversion of cumene to phenol occurs in about 63.25% of cases.

BPA and phenol-formaldehyde resins are both made using phenol in large quantities. Phenol-formaldehyde resins are made using one-fourth of phenol. The production of Bisphenol A (BPA), which is made from phenol and acetone, is the single largest market for phenol. In turn, epoxy resins and polycarbonate are produced using BPA.

Global Cumene Market Restraint

Dangerous Effect from Prolonged Exposure

A pungent, penetrating stench permeates the clear, colorless liquid called cumene. At room temperature, cumene is a volatile white liquid with a very harsh, penetrating fragrance. Alcohol and many other organic solvents are soluble in it but not in water. Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure to cumene may cause headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, slight incoordination, and unconsciousness in people, despite cumene being used to make phenol, acetone derivatives, paints, enamels, high-octane aviation fuels, and a variety of petroleum products. Cumene has a robust central nervous system (CNS) depressive action, long-lasting narcotic effects in animals, and a gradual onset period.

Global Cumene Market Opportunities

Growing Use of Acetone as a Solvent

Acetone, commonly known as propanone, is a colorless liquid used as a solvent in producing plastics and other industrial goods. A small amount of acetone is also utilized in domestic goods, such as cosmetics and personal care items. Acetone serves various purposes, including the production of methyl methacrylate (MMA) and BPA, as well as the removal of nail polish, lacquers and finishes, pharmaceuticals, paints, acrylics, and fibers. Similarly, it is also employed in producing epoxy resin, polycarbonate, and adhesives. The manufacture of acetone cyanohydrin, a chemical intermediary utilized in the production of aldol compounds such as di-acetone alcohol (DAA), mesityl oxide (MOX), and methyl isobutyl ketone, is the primary use of acetone (MIBK).

PMMA resins, which are increasingly being utilized to make acrylic sheets in the construction industry, are produced using MMA on a large scale. The manufacture of medical equipment and automobile parts both make extensive use of methyl methacrylate (MMA). Due to investments and expansions in this industry, the use of acetone in paints and coatings is increasing.

Segmental Analysis

The global cumene market is segmented by catalyst type and application.

Based on catalyst type, the global cumene market is bifurcated into aluminum chloride, solid phosphoric acid (SPA), zeolite, and other catalyst types.

The zeolite catalyst segment is the highest contributor to the market and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 6.30% during the forecast period. The catalyst that is employed the most frequently in the manufacture of cumene is zeolite. Zeolite catalyst has quickly overtaken other types of catalysts as the go-to catalyst for commercial production of cumene and EB over the past ten years. Mobil created the fundamental beta zeolite material composition in 1967. Since then, catalysts have evolved through several stages that have developed cutting-edge catalysts like the QZ-20002 and QZ-20012 catalysts for cumene alkylation. Between 1967 and the beginning of the 1980s, most of the work focused on characterizing the beta zeolite's structural makeup. 

In producing cumene, aluminum chloride is one of the acid catalysts utilized. Compared to the production of cumene, ethylbenzene (EB) has been involved using more AlCl3 techniques. In 1976, Monsanto developed a method for producing cumene that was more effective and utilized AlCl3 as a catalyst. The technique had effectively evolved into a procedure that could be sold by the middle of the 1980s. Based on benzene and propylene as the starting ingredients, the overall cumene yield for this process has the potential to achieve 99% by weight and 98% by weight, respectively.

One of the other methods utilized in the manufacturing of cumene is solid phosphoric acid (SPA). SPA still works as a catalyst for cumene synthesis, although it has several drawbacks. As an illustration, propylene oligomerization and the production of heavy alkylate byproducts reduce cumene yield to roughly 95%. To maintain the cumene production, the process requires a benzene-propylene molar input ratio of around 7:1. After each brief catalyst cycle, the used catalyst must be disposed of because it cannot be recycled. The quality of phenol, acetone, alpha-methyl styrene and other chemical products has also been improved by providing producers with increased incentives for greater cumene product quality.

The global cumene market is bifurcated based on application into phenol, acetone, and other applications.

The phenol segment owns the highest market and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 5.25% during the forecast period. Cumene is used to make phenol, one of its primary uses. Cumene is liquid-phase oxidized with molecular oxygen to produce cumene hydroperoxide, which is further broken down into phenol and acetone with a catalyst. Cumene must be refined before it can be used in the oxidation process. Sulphuric acid is a catalyst in the breakdown of cumene hydroperoxide into phenol and acetone. Phenol is widely used in many different industries. Plywood, window glazing, DVDs and CDs, computers, sporting goods, fiberglass boats, car parts and accessories, circuit boards, and flat-screen televisions are standard phenol uses.

Acetone and a few additional byproducts are also produced during the phenol synthesis process, which uses cumene. Acetone and phenol both rank as essential products. Acetone and benzene are produced using nearly 98% of cumene. Acetone is mostly in demand since it is used as a solvent in goods like lacquers and nail paint removers. Acetone is a typical solvent used to produce plastics and other industrial goods. It has a wide range of uses, including the production of BPA and methyl methacrylate (MMA) and in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors as a solvent. PMMA resins, which are increasingly being utilized to make acrylic sheets in the construction industry, are produced using MMA on a large scale. Other uses for MMA include medical equipment and automotive components.

Regional Analysis

The global cumene market is divided into four regions: North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA. 

Asia-Pacific Dominates the Global Market

Asia-Pacific is the most significant revenue contributor and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.30% during the forecast period. The enormous demand for cumene, also known as isopropylbenzene, in numerous chemical processes makes it a top commodity chemical. Cumene has a minor part in the manufacture of di-isopropylbenzene (p-DIBP), acetophenone, styrene, -methyl styrene, and other chemicals, including detergents. Cumene is used chiefly as an intermediary in the phenol and acetone manufacturing processes. CEPSA constructed the Shanghai Chemicals Plant in China, the largest in Asia and one of the top manufacturers of cumene, phenol, and acetone globally. The facility has the capacity to generate 360,000 tonnes of grassroots cumene, 250,000 tonnes of phenol, and 150,000 tonnes of acetone annually.

Europe is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.30% during the forecast period. With an annual production of 1,330 kilotonnes of phenol and 830 kilotonnes of acetone, INEOS is one of Europe's biggest producers of cumene and its derived phenol and acetone. A world-scale, cutting-edge cumene facility will be built in Marl, Germany, by INEOS Phenol and will be finished in 2021. This announcement was made in July 2019. The new 750,000-tonne unit will utilize already-existing pipeline connections between the BP refinery and cracker complex in Gelsenkirchen, the Evonik Chemiepark in Marl, and the INEOS phenol and acetone production plant in Gladbeck.

North America is expected to grow significantly over the forecast period. Cumene is also added to gasoline mixes to make high-octane aviation fuel utilized in commercial and jet aircraft. This fuel may be found in both the United States and Canada. Since the United States possesses the most extensive fleet size in the world and the largest aviation market in North America, this country is one of the essential aviation fuel industries. United Airlines and American Airlines both have a fleet size of 800 aircraft, making them the two largest airlines in the world. INEOS is one of the most important manufacturers of phenol and acetone in the United States. Each year, the company produces 330 KT and 540 KT of these two chemicals, respectively.

In Brazil, 64 kg of phenol is released annually into metropolitan areas near coal-fired power plants, according to estimates. This indicates that residents in these areas may be more susceptible to phenol exposure and should limit their use. Cumene is a solvent in paints and other coatings and thinners for paints, lacquers, and enamels. Saudi Arabia's GDP decreased by 4.1% in 2020 due to the epidemic, low oil prices, and low production levels. Constraints on capital expenditure, stricter rules, and household adjustments to the VAT increase hampered growth in non-oil sectors. Acetone and phenol are made using cumene as an intermediary.

Cumene Market Regional Analysis
Regional Growth Insights Download Free Sample

Top Key Players of Cumene Market

The global cumene manufacturers are

  1. Braskem
  2. Cepsa
  3. Chang Chun Group
  4. CITGO
  5. Domo Chemicals
  6. Dow
  7. INEOS
  8. Koch Industries Inc.
  9. Kumho P&B Chemicals Inc.
  10. Prasol Chemicals Pvt Ltd
  11. Royal Dutch Shell PLC
  12. SABIC
  13. Versalis Spa.

Report Scope

Report Metric Details
CAGR 4.70%
Forecast Period 2023-2031
Report Coverage Revenue Forecast, Competitive Landscape, Growth Factors, Environment & Regulatory Landscape and Trends
Segments Covered
  1. By Catalyst Type
    1. Aluminum Chloride Catalyst
    2. Solid Phosphoric Acid (SPA) Catalyst
    3. Zeolite Catalyst
    4. Other Catalyst Types
  2. By Application
    1. Phenol
    2. Acetone
    3. Other Applications
Geographies Covered
  • North America
  • Europe
  • APAC
  • Middle East and Africa

Recent Developments

  • September 2022- DLA Piper advised INEOS Phenol, the world’s largest producer of phenol and acetone, on its acquisition of Mitsui Phenols Singapore Pte. Ltd. (“Mitsui Phenols”) from Mitsui Chemicals, the leading Japanese chemicals manufacturer, for a total consideration of USD 330m. Subject to regulatory approval, the deal is expected to complete in Q1 2023.

Cumene Market Segmentation

By Catalyst Type

  • Aluminum Chloride Catalyst
  • Solid Phosphoric Acid (SPA) Catalyst
  • Zeolite Catalyst
  • Other Catalyst Types

By Application

  • Phenol
  • Acetone
  • Other Applications

By Regions

  • North America
  • Europe
  • Asia-Pacific

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much is the global cumene market worth?
The global market is projected to reach USD 30.39 billion by 2031.
The scope of the cumene market is vast, as it covers a wide range of products and services related to the chemical industry. These products and services include commodity chemicals, specialty chemicals, and intermediate goods.
By catalyst type, the zeolite catalyst segment is estimated to grow at a higher CAGR.
Dangerous effect of prolonged exposure the main factor that will restrain market growth?
Braskem, Cepsa, Chang Chun Group, CITGO, Domo Chemicals, Dow, INEOS, and Koch Industries Inc. are the major players in the market.
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