Hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC) is water soluble, nonionic derivative of cellulose ether. It is synthesized by etherification of alkali cellulose and ethylene oxide. HEC used as cement extender, binder, and protective colloid, shape retention enhancer, coating polymer, lubricity and workability enhancer and suspension & stabilization agent. End user industries of HEC include building & construction, adhesives & sealants, oil & gas, paints & coatings, pharmaceutical, personal care & cosmetics, metal casting & foundry and paper & pulp industry. High purity HEC is required for personal care & cosmetics applications.
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Growing demand from personal care & cosmetics industry is expected to drive the HEC market. It acts as binder, stabilizer, thickener and dispersing agent in daily personal care and cosmetics products that increases lubrication, density and improves appearance of them. Changing lifestyle and rising disposable income is driving personal care market in developing countries. Demand for personal care products used in daily routine is driven by growing population in developed as well as developing countries worldwide. In addition, growing demand for HEC in paints and coatings industry is expected to drive the market. HEC provides excellent coating performance for PVA latex paints with no flocculation.
HEC has high thickening effect and therefore improves thickness of the paints that reduces flocculation. Use of HEC in paints enhances washing resistance and improves cost effectiveness of paint formulation. New infrastructure investment in emerging economies and improvement of existing infrastructure in developed countries is driving the paints and coating industry. Further, HEC demand from oil well and drilling industry is expected to boost the market growth. It can be used as cementing agent or thickener or workover fluid in oil wells. HEC helps in reducing damage to oil well structures by helping in creating clear solution with low fixed content.
However, hazardous air pollutants emissions during production and explosion issues are expected to inhibit the HEC market growth. Development of new derivatives and new applications of cellulose is expected to create raw material scarcity for the production of HEC. This scarcity of raw materials may hamper the market growth. Development of new applications in pharmaceutical and medicine field is expected to provide opportunities for the players in this market. Hydrophobic drugs and capsules made from HEC are easily absorbed by intestinal walls which makes it ideal ingredient to be used in pharmaceutical applications. Other new applications include ointment, food, paper making and polymerization agent that may provide opportunities in the near future.
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Europe emerged as market for HEC in terms of consumption and production. However, major players in this market are shifting their production plants to China due to availability for raw material, expansion of existing facilities and investments in building new infrastructure. Growing paints & coatings and personal care industry are expected to drive the demand for HEC in this region. Europe was followed by Asia Pacific in terms of production of HEC. The demand from building & construction industry and oil well drilling industry is expected to drive HEC market in this region. Rising exploration activities and improving recovery from existing oil wells in China is driving the oil well drilling industry. Improvement of existing infrastructure and need to enhance hydrocarbon recovery from existing oil wells is driving oil well drilling industry, which in turn expected to boost the HEC demand in this region.