Methyl isobutyl carbinol (MIBC) is an organic chemical compound, a branched hexyl alcohol, which is used as a frother in mineral flotation. Methyl Isobutyl carbinol is a clear, colorless liquid, slightly soluble in water and miscible with most organic solvents. Methyl isobutyl carbinol can be used as a solvent, in organic synthesis, as a precursor to some plasticizers and in the manufacture of brake fluid. Methyl isobutyl carbinol is also known as methyl amyl alcohol, isobutyl methyl methanol, Isobutyl methyl carbinol, 1,3-dimethylbutanol, 4-methyl-2-amyl alcohol, 2-methyl-4-pentanol and 4-Methyl-2-pentyl alcohol among others. Methyl isobutyl carbinol has good solvent properties for oils, waxes, dyestuffs, natural resins and ethyl cellulose. Methyl isobutyl carbinol is readily biodegradable, unlikely to accumulate in the food chain, and is considered non-toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms on an acute basis.
Methyl isobutyl carbinol is primarily used in the production of lube oil additives and for antiwear and corrosion inhibitors. In addition, methyl isobutyl carbinol is used as a solvent for dyes and stains; solvent for nitrocellulose and ethylcellulose lacquers; solvent for ester gums, oils, natural resins, phenolics, waxes; chemical intermediate for higher alcohols, surfactants; extraction solvent for essential oils for flavors/fragrances and process solvents for soaps. Methyl isobutyl carbinol is used as a flotation frother for treating coal, copper ores, tars and mining. Methyl isobutyl carbinol helps to boost the productivity of mining operations by increasing the mining yield. In mining frother applications, methyl isobutyl carbinol is used in the ppm range, with usual concentrations less than 1000 ppm and in many cases in the hundreds of ppm range (100 – 600 ppm). In addition, methyl isobutyl carbinol is used as a raw material in the manufacturing of methyl amyl sebacate and methyl amyl phthalate, which are used as plasticizers.
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The increase in consumption of lube oil additives is expected to be a major driving factor for the growth of methyl isobutyl carbinol market. Methyl isobutyl carbinol prices are significantly affected by feedstock costs and the price of natural gas. Stronger demand and higher feedstock costs helps to boost prices for methyl isobutyl carbinol. In addition, growing demand in emerging economies is expected to boost the growth of methyl isobutyl carbinol market. Methyl isobutyl carbinol is a preferred frother of choice for the mining of ores, such as copper and molybdenum sulfide, as well as coal. The growth of the mining industry is expected to further drive the demand for methyl isobutyl carbinol. However, availability of substitutes and demand fluctuations could hamper the growth of this market.
The Asia Pacific is the fastest growing region for methyl isobutyl carbinol industry. China, Republic of Korea, India, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia are some of the major consumers of methyl isobutyl carbinol in Asia Pacific. The U.S. and Western Europe are the largest consumers of methyl isobutyl carbinol. The European market is said to be fairly balanced with steady demand. In addition, demand for methyl isobutyl carbinol is growing in Latin America due to increase in mining operations.
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Some of the key players in this market are Shell Chemicals ( U.S), BASF (Germany), Dow Chemical (U.S.), E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (U.S.), Mitsubishi Chemical (Japan), LG Chem (South Korea), AkzoNobel (Netherlands), Sumitomo Chemical (Japan), Mitsui Chemicals (Japan), Toray Industries (Japan), Eastman Chemical Company(U.S.), and Evonik Industries (Germany) among others.