Isophthalic acid is a colorless organic compound which serves as an isomer of terephthalic acid and phthalic acid. Isophthalic acid is implemented as precursors to important polymers such as Nomex which is used as a fire resistant material. The acid is also used for manufacturing resins when mixed with terephthalic acid for drinking bottles. High performance polymers such as polybenzimidazole are also manufactured from isophthalic acid. These acids are usually manufactured by oxidizing metaxylene using oxygen, while employing cobalt manganese catalyst. Chromic acid are generally used as the oxidant which also arises by meta brombenzoate and potassium meta-sulphobenzoate with potassium formate. Isophthalic acid is primarily used as an intermediate for unsaturated polyester resins and polyester coating resins. Other prominent applications of isophthalic acid include its consumption in aramid fibers, high temperature polymers and as a component of copolyester resins. Isophthalic acid serves as a primary raw materials for fiberglass reinforced plastics for developing various products such as corrosion resistant tanks and pipes, automotive, and marine. Isophthallic acid-containing polyesters are also used in industrial coatings, metal office furniture, aluminum siding, automobiles, and household appliances.
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The global market for isophthalic acid has been witnessing a noticeable increase on account of increasing demand from its application industries. The purified form of isophthalic acid (PIA) has three primary applications: polyethylene terephthalate (PET) copolymer, polyester surface coating resins and unsaturated polyester resins. PET copolymers are widely used in bottle resins, and fibers. Purified isophthalic acid decreases the crystallinity of PET which is used to enhance the clarity and improve the productivity of bottle manufscturers. PIA is used in unsaturated polyester resins to enhance the mechanical performance and thermal resistance, as well as resistance to water and chemicals. In polyester surface coating resins, PIA increases the resistance to water, weatherability and overall durability.
Some of the high prospects for growth in consumption of PIA are being witnessed in developing and emerging areas. China is expected to witness a steady growth in all the end-user market for isophthalic acid, followed by Middle East and Brazil. Russia is also expected to rise at an above average rate due to increasing production of PET bottle resins. Asia Pacific accounts for the largest market share in isophthalic acid in terms of consumption, particularly China, followed by developed regions such as North America and Europe. In Europe, particularly Western Europe, the market for isophthalic acid is expected to witness slow growth. Surface coatings and unsaturated polyester resins highly depend on the construction industry, which itself is slowly recovering from the global economic downturn in 2008. The market for PET bottle resins will also experience sluggish growth, primarily due to the maturity of carbonated soft drink market, higher recycling rates, sluggish bottled water sales, downgauging by bottle manufacturers and general economic sluggishness. Various PET bottle resin manufacturers in Japan prefer using PET copolymerized from PIA. The PET is manufactured at plant outside Japan, so surface coatings and unsaturated polyester resins serve as more vital outlets for PIA. Rising demand from end user industries such as construction, automotive and marine is expected to significantly boost the demand for isophthalic acid over the forecast period. In addition, increasing industrial activities in emerging economies such as China is also expected to drive the demand for isophthalic acid in applications such as corrosion resistant pipes and tanks.
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Alfa Aesar, Eastman Chemical Company, Sigma Aldrich Corporation, and The Chemical Company are some of the key manufacturers of isophthalic acid present in the industry.