US demand for refinery chemicals
US demand for refinery chemicals is forecast to exceed $7.5 billion in 2014, according to a new industry study from The Freedonia Group. Advances in chemical demand are expected to slow significantly from the rapid pace achieved during the 20042009 period. Decelerating growth will be based on an outright decline in refined products output, combined with the completion of the phase-in of a 30-ppm sulfur limit in gasoline, enacted in 2004. However, overall demand for refinery chemicals will benefit from an expected acceleration in economic growth, as the economy eventually recovers from the recession that began in late 2007. Increasingly stringent environmental regulations will further promote demand, as refiners subject their products to higher levels of chemical treatment in order to remove impurities. Market growth will result primarily from above-average gains in the large merchant hydrogen segment, due to rising use by refiners seeking to supplement their captive hydrogen production.
Merchant hydrogen will remain the largest and fastest growing product in the US refinery chemical market. Advances will be driven by tightening sulfur standards for diesel fuels. Such environmental regulations promote the use of hydrotreating as a means of removing sulfur and other contaminants. As of 2010, diesel fuel must meet a 15 ppm sulfur limit, and going forward, significant sulfur reductions are also expected for heating oil. Hydrocracking represents another growth application for merchant hydrogen, as US refineries continue to expand their hydrocracking capacity in efforts to boost gasoline and diesel fuel yields.
Metal catalysts will maintain their position as the largest and fastest growing segment of the refinery catalyst market. Gains will be based on rising use in hydrotreating applications due to efforts to reduce sulfur content in refined products. Zeolites represent another leading type of catalyst. Primarily employed in catalytic cracking applications, the relative maturity of this technology will serve to limit gains for zeolite catalysts. HP