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Mitsui Chemicals is strengthening its phenol chain operations as part of a strategy to expand five highly competitive businesses on a global scale.
As a specific measure, the company will suspend operation of manufacturing facilities for isopropyl alcohol (IPA) from propylene and construct facilities for the production of IPA from acetone, a product of the company’s phenol chain operations. IPA is a solvent widely used in coatings and inks, reported to have minimal impact on the environment.
Shortages in the raw material propylene are predicted, resulting in unstable supply and higher prices. As the European and American markets favour light feed petrochemicals, continued price increases for propylene are expected. IPA exports to Asia from Europe and the USA will continue to fall.
Against this backdrop, Mitsui Chemicals will switch production of IPA from propylene processes to acetone processes using proprietary highly active catalyst technology. The switchover will form the cornerstone of a new production framework for stable supply of IPA domestically and to Asian markets.