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Ethyl mercaptan, also known as ethanethiol, is an organosulfur compound, a clear toxic liquid with a distinct odor and was recognized as the world’s stinkiest substance in the 2000 Guinness Book of World Records. Its structure parallels that of ethanol, however, with sulfur in instead of oxygen. It occurs naturally as a minor component of petroleum, and may be added to otherwise odorless gaseous products such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to help warn of gas leaks.

Ethanethiol is prepared by the reaction of ethylene with hydrogen sulfide over a catalyst. Various producers of ethyle mercaptan use different catalysts in this process. It is also been prepared commercially by the reaction of ethanol with hydrogen sulfide gas over an acidic solid catalyst, such as alumina. Ethyl mercaptan is also used as a binder stabilizer. For instance, Chevron Phillips Chemical produced ethyl mercaptan, for use as an ink and dye additive that is an effective solvent in digital image processing.

Ethyl mercaptan has a strongly disagreeable odor that humans can detect in minute concentrations. The threshold for human detection is as low as one part in 2.8 billion parts of air. Ethyl mercaptan is intentionally added to butane and propane to impart an easily noticed smell to these normally odorless fuels that indicate as threat of fire, asphyxiation, and explosion.

Market Dynamics

Multiple applications of in various end-use industries is projected to boost demand for ethyl mercaptan over the forecast period. It is used as an intermediate and starting material in the manufacturing of plastic, insecticides, antioxidants, and as an odorant to serve as a warning property for natural gas.

Moreover, major drivers for ethyl mercaptan market growth include its application as a warning agent. In the underground mining industry, ethanethiol or ethyl mercaptan is referred to as stench gas. The gas is released into mine ventilation systems to alert mine workers during an emergency. For instance, in 1990, Ontario, mining legislation dictates that the alarm system in an underground mine is required to contain sufficient quantities of ethyl mercaptan gas or similar gas to be readily detectable by all workers.

Major factors restraining the global ethyl mercaptan market growth include its toxicity. Ethyl mercaptan is a central nervous system stimulant and also a strong odor-causing chemical. Hence, overexposure to ethyl mercaptan should prevented and concentration should be carefully controlled.

Market Outlook

According to the global ethyl mercaptan market analysis, North America held a dominant position in the market in 2017. Owing to higher presence of chemical manufacturers in the region such as Chevron Phillips Chemical, The DOW Chemical Company, ExxonMobil, PPG Industries, the region is projected to maintain its dominance throughout the forecast period.

Among applications, the warning agent segment is projected to gain major traction over the forecast period, owing to high demand for ethyl mercaptan in the chemical and petrochemical industry.

Asia Pacific is expected to witness significant growth of the forecast period, owing to growing agrochemicals industry in the region. According to Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, India is the fourth-largest producer of agrochemicals globally, after the U.S., Japan, and China. Agrochemical product development includes a broad range of processes, which are aimed at developing a better product and possible commercialization. Rising demand for ethyl mercaptan in the agrochemical industry for use in pesticides and insecticides is expected to boost growth of the ethyl mercaptan market. In the pesticide industry, ethyl mercaptan or ethanethiol is widely used as an intermediate for pesticide manufacturing. For instance, according to the Development of National Emission Standards for Pesticides Manufacturing, ethyl mercaptan is used in the production of phorate, which is an organophosphate used as an insecticide and acaricide. It is also used as an intermediate for pharmaceutical synthesis of organophosphorus insecticides such as acesulfame, isopropoxide, endogenous phosphorus, methyl endophos, and herbicides.

Key players in Global Ethyl Mercaptan Market

Key players operating in the global ethyl mercaptan market include Arkema S.A., DowDuPont Inc., and Chevron Phillips Chemical.

Key Developments

  • Key players operating in the global ethyl mercaptan market are adopting different strategies such as merger and acquisition, capacity expansion, etc. to cater growing demand of ethyl mercaptan from various applications such as pesticide, warning agent and other chemical intermediates.
  • For instance, In May 2017, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC, a manufacturer and supplier of olefins and polyolefins aromatics, alpha olefins, specialty chemicals, etc. announced completion of debottlenecking its production plant for tetrahydrothiophene and ethyl mercaptan in Tessenderlo, Belgium to ensure long-term supply of ethyl mercaptan to its customers. This increased the production of capacity of both the chemicals by 65%.

Market Taxonomy

On the basis of product, the global ethyl mercaptan market is segmented into:

  • Ethanol (or Ethylene) Method
  • Ethyl Chloride Method
  • Anhydrous Ethanol Method
  • Other Method

On the basis of application, the global ethyl mercaptan market is segmented into:

  • Pesticide intermediates
  • Warning agent
  • Others

On the basis of region, the global ethyl mercaptan market is segmented into:

  • North America
    • U.S.
    • Canada
    • Mexico
  • South America
    • Brazil
    • Argentina
    • Rest of South America
  • Europe
    • U.K.
    • Germany
    • Italy
    • France
    • Spain
    • Russia
    • Rest of Europe
  • Asia Pacific
    • China
    • India
    • Japan
    • South Korea
    • ASEAN
    • Australia
    • Rest of Asia Pacific
  • Middle East & Africa

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