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Why is there such a high level of interest in succinic acid?

Why is there so much attention on succinic acid? On the one hand, it is based on the development opportunities of the whole industry chain brought by the development of biodegradable plastic industry, and on the other hand, it is the downstream industry chain extension opportunities of maleic anhydride products.

In this article, a certain market analysis of succinic acid products will be made.

Succinic acid
Succinic acid

According to wikipedia, succinic acid, also known as succinic acid, ethylenedicarboxylic acid, 1,2-ethanedicarboxylic acid and ethylenedicarboxylic acid, is a dicarboxylic acid. Succinic acid is a binary carboxylic acid containing two active methylene groups, which can undergo a variety of reactions such as halogenation, dehydration, esterification, sulfonation, acylation, oxidation and reduction, etc. It can be used as an intermediate in the synthesis of a variety of complex organic compounds, and can also be used to make drugs, and is widely used in the synthesis of plastics, food, medicine and pesticide industries.

There are many process routes for succinic acid, including catalytic hydrogenation, paraffinic oxidation, acrylic acid carbonyl synthesis, electrolytic synthesis and fermentation. At present, the process routes for industrial production are mainly catalytic hydrogenation, electrolytic synthesis and biofermentation. The domestic and international production methods of succinic acid include electrolytic synthesis, catalytic hydrogenation and biological fermentation. However, there are problems such as high electricity consumption, electrode corrosion and unfavorable to large-scale production. Although the catalytic hydrogenation and biofermentation methods have been industrialized, the technology needs to be further optimized.

Depending on the production process, two routes exist for the raw material of succinic acid. One is the catalytic hydrogenation or electrolytic synthesis of maleic anhydride to further produce succinic acid. The other is corn starch fermentation, which is screened and separated to obtain a succinic acid product. In either production method, an industrial grade succinic acid product can be produced.

In terms of application, according to relevant information, in the pharmaceutical industry, sodium succinate is effective in treating coma, the ammonium salt of succinic acid can be used as a sedative, succinic acid and its anhydride can be used to manufacture sulfonamides, vitamin A, B6, hemostatic drugs and cortisone derivatives, succinic acid has an antidote to barbiturate poisoning, and erythromycin ethyl succinate, also known as rimoxazole, is a common oral antibacterial drug. In agricultural farming, succinic acid is a plant growth hormone that controls plant growth, mediates nutrients, increases drought and disease resistance and frost resistance, and is used in crop farming to increase yields by 10% to 20%. Succinic acid can also be used to treat barley black cob disease and as an additive to herbicides.

Butanedioic acid used in pharmaceuticals and pesticides is mostly fermented and purer butanedioic acid products, but consumption of butanedioic acid is not large due to the higher grade and the small scale of industry applications. Butanedioic acid used in pharmaceuticals and pesticides has not changed much in consumption scale in recent years and has a weak impact on the industry, and is not a major future development direction.

In the field of biodegradable plastics, succinic acid is one of the main raw materials for the biodegradable plastic PBS, and 0.68 tons of succinic acid is consumed for every 1 ton of PBS produced. As the scale of PBS industry grows, the consumption demand for succinic acid is also rising, which is the main reason why the industry is now highly concerned about succinic acid.

According to relevant statistics, by the end of 2022, the production capacity of China’s PBS industry has exceeded 200,000 tons, and the supply is about 15,000 tons. However, the scale of the proposed projects under construction in the next 10 years exceeds 5 million tons / year, and the estimated market consumption volume will rapidly increase to more than 300,000 tons, with an average annual consumption growth rate of more than 15%, belonging to the type of industry with high speed development in the future.

It is also the rapid growth in the size of the downstream PBS biodegradable plastics industry that has led to concerns in the market about the lack of supply of the basic raw material, succinic acid.

According to statistics, by the end of 2022, the production capacity of China’s succinic acid market is less than 60,000 tons/year, and the output is about 20-25,000 tons level. If we calculate that 1 ton of PBS requires 0.68 ton of succinic acid, the consumption scale of the PBS industry for succinic acid in 2022 is about 13.6 thousand tons, accounting for about 68% of China’s succinic acid production.

As of now, the Chinese produced succinic acid is still able to meet the consumption needs of China.

But what will be the future state of supply and demand? It is expected that China’s PBS production will be around 300,000 tons in the next 10 years, and the future supply of succinic acid to be under construction will be around 300,000 tons, and the potential consumption of succinic acid from China’s PBS production will be around 204,000 tons in the future, based on 0.68 tons of unit consumption.

From the current statistics, there is still a surplus of supply in the Chinese succinic acid market in the future. However, it should be especially reminded that the future proposed production capacity of PBS reaches 5 million tons, and although the growth rate of consumer demand is currently slow and there is uncertainty about many proposed PBS projects, the possibility of explosive growth in the future cannot be ruled out.

PBS is an important representative of petroleum-based degradable plastics, which is superior to PBAT and other products in terms of material performance, production stability and adjustment flexibility. The future consumption demand of PBS industry depends on the policy and economic development. If the demand of PBS shows explosive growth, there will be a serious shortage of supply from the scale of the proposed succinic acid under construction, which is the core essence of the current high concern of succinic acid in the industry.

Succinic acid has a very important significance and role in the development of the PBS industry, if the supply of succinic acid is insufficient, it will certainly lead to the slowdown of the PBS industry, and the two affect each other.

In addition, there are numerous downstream applications for succinic acid and numerous possibilities to expand the industry chain, which provides a larger industry focus for succinic acid.

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