Linear alkyl benzene (LAB) is captively used in manufacturing of LAS (Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate). LAS is a basic raw material used in the manufacturing of detergent and accounts for a significant portion of the global LAB consumption. LAB is either converted to LAS or directly supplied for end-user applications. LAB exhibits optimum optical transparency, high light yield, high flash point and low radioactive impurities due to which it is also used in neutrino detectors. The other niche applications of LAB include ink solvents, agricultural herbicides, wetting agents, emulsion polymerization, electric cable oil, and the paint industry. Global consumption of linear alkyl benzene has been reached to 3,391.6 kilo tons in 2011 and the market was valued at USD 6,149.0 million.
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The growing demand for cleaners is expected to be the major driver for the global demand for LAB. Regulatory policies have imposed restrictions over the use of non-biodegradable surfactants such as dodecylbenzene sulfonates. LAS, a surfactant derived from LAB is easily bio-degradable and is used as a replacement for dodecylbenzene sulfonates which has been a major driver for the growth of the industry. LAS also known as LABSA (linear alkylbenzene sulphonic acid) is a biodegradable surfactant, extensively used in the production of laundry powders, industrial cleaners, dishwashing liquids, etc.
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The global LAB market can be geographically segmented into five major geographical regions namely North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America and ROW. Asia Pacific was the largest market for LAB owing to strong growth of end-user industries of LAB in developing economies such as India and China. The global LAB industry generated revenue of USD 6,149.0 million in 2011 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.3% from 2012 to 2018.
LAS is predominantly used for captive consumption for manufacturing heavy-duty laundry liquids, laundry powders, industrial cleaners, light-duty dishwashing liquid and household cleaners are the major application areas of LAB. Heavy-duty laundry liquids were the largest application segment in terms of both volume and revenue. The volume demand of LAS for heavy duty laundry liquids is expected to grow at a CAGR of 2.1% from 2012 to 2018. Household cleaners are expected to be the fastest growing application segment for the next five years. Industrial cleaners constitute another important end user industry for LAS. Rapid economical development and industrial growth in emerging economies is expected to propel demand for industrial cleaners in the years to come.
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The global LAB market is characterized by the presence of a large number of regional manufacturers. The market was moderately concentrated with major players accounting for close to 50% of the market in 2012. Sasol, a South Africa based company, was the leading producer of LAB and accounted for over 9% of the overall industry revenue in 2012.
Major players has been focused on expansion in developing economies and continuous innovations to improve the quality of their product. CEPSA Quimica, Huntsman Performance Products, Deten Quimica, Jin Tung Petrochemicals, Unggul Indah Cahaya, Sinopec Jinling Petrochemical, Fushun Petrochemicals, ISU Chemical, and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP are amongst the key players in the industry.
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