Potassium methoxide, also known as potassium methanolate or potassium methylate, is potassium salt of methanol. It is a white crystalline salt with no odor. It has high tendency of reacting with water. The compound is usually offered as a solution of 25% to 35% potassium methylate in methanol or ethanol, as it is the harmless way to store and transport it. Potassium methoxide is largely employed as an intermediate and a catalyst for agricultural and pharmaceutical syntheses. However, a significant application of potassium methoxide lies in trans-esterification of organic fats such as vegetable oil, or animal fats into biodiesel and glycerol. The compound is also used in the manufacture of detergents and glycerol. Moreover, it acts as a catalyst for polymerization and isomerization reactions.
The rising consumption and production of biodiesel is expected to fuel the market for potassium methoxide during the forecast period. Biodiesel is a cleaner and greener fuel as compared to its crude oil-based counterpart. Biodiesel produces 85% less greenhouse gases. It is usually made from used cooking oil (vegetable oil) or animal fats. Biodiesel is a potential substitute for diesel. This, in turn, is expected to drive the global potassium methoxide market. The compound is also used in fuel additives. With the rising consumption of fuels, the market for potassium methoxide is also expected to expand in the next few years. Moreover, significant and versatile use of the compound in chemical processes such as condensation and esterification is driving the demand for potassium methoxide in the chemicals industry. However, high reactivity of the compound with water and air (due to presence of moisture) creates storage problems. It is mostly stored in alcohols such as methanol or ethanol. Salts such as sodium methoxide possess a significant potential to replace potassium methoxide as a catalyst in the biodiesel production. This is likely to hamper the growth of the potassium methoxide market in the near future.
Potassium methoxide is usually available in various concentrations. Based on the application, the potassium methoxide market has been segmented into biodiesel production, pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, chemical synthesis, and others. Biodiesel production is the dominant segment of all, as a significant quantity of potassium methoxide is employed to manufacture biodiesel and is used as a fuel additive.
In terms of geography, the market for potassium methoxide has been divided into Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. North America is a major consumer of potassium methoxide, followed by Latin America. These regions are prominent producers of biofuels. The biofuel production in these regions collectively stood at more than 51 million tons of its oil equivalent in 2015. Europe is also a major market for potassium methoxide, primarily due to a significant focus on alternative fuels in this region. Regions such as Asia Pacific and Middle East & Africa produce lower amount of biodiesel. Thus, the consumption of potassium methoxide is observed to be lower in the two regions. However, Asia Pacific counterbalances this deficit with the use of potassium methoxide as intermediate and catalyst for manufacturing of chemicals. The demand for potassium methoxide as a trans-esterification agent is anticipated to rise in developed regions such as North America and Europe during the forecast period, due to focus on using cleaner fuels and curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
Major players operating in the global potassium methoxide market are Evonik Industries AG, BASF SE, GELEST, INC., Biofuel Solutions Limited, and Gelsenchem Chemical Products GmbH.
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