Phenolic resins or phenol formaldehyde resins are the synthetic polymers derived from the reaction between formaldehyde and phenol. Phenolic resins were regarded as the first commercial resins used in manufacturing of moulded products such as laboratory countertops and billiard balls. They are also used as coasting and adhesives. Various product types of phenolic resin currently available in the market, include, novolac resin, cresol, resol resin, bio-phenolic resin, and formaldehyde-free phenolic resin. Various trade names associated with these products include Bakelite, Aquarius, Maritex, Novo Text, and Oasis, etc. Attributed to its properties such as moisture resistance, heat resistance, adhesion, and high mechanical strength phenolic resins find prominent application in number of industrial activities such as laminates, offshore oil drilling, moulding compounds, , insulation purposes, hardeners, fire retardants, abrasives, friction materials, wood-adhesive, and others.
Regulatory framework pertaining to phenolic resins include Japan Society of Occupational Safety that marks the permissible concentration of phenol and formaldehyde for the production of phenol resins and Industrial Safety and Health Act that has stated phenol and formaldehyde as labelled substance which allows the usage of phenol resins in various applications. Other agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), European Phenolic Resins Association (EPRA), and, REACH are also some of regulatory bodies for phenolic resins industry. These bodies ensure consumers’ health & safety by limiting pollution, and hazardous emissions pertaining to this industry.
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Novolac resin has emerged as the leading phenolic resin type owing to its increasing application in maintenance coatings or as high-solid varnishes due to its high fire and corrosion resistance attributes combined with high carbon residue.
Global Phenolic Resin Market Outlook – Asia Pacific is set to register the fastest growth rate in global phenolic resins market owing to rapid urbanization
The global phenolic resin market is geographically segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa. Asia Pacific has been the dominant market of phenolic resins in terms of consumption, thereby accounting for almost more than one-third share of the global phenolic resin market. This region is expected to exhibit the fastest growth during the forecast period (2016-2024), owing to the regulatory governing frameworks promoting the usage of lightweight composites in the automotive industry. Other driving factors for the significant growth in Asia Pacific include rapidly increasing population and rapid urbanization. According to the recent trends, phenolic resin manufacturers are gradually shifting their production bases from North America and Europe to emerging economies such as Asia in order to capitalize upon economies of scale by tapping in on low cost labour and extensive resource pools to increase production of phenolic resins.
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The key players operating in the global phenolic resins market are BASF SE, Hitachi Chemical Co. Ltd., Ludwigshafen Verbund, Sumitomo Bakelite Co. Ltd., Georgia Pacific Chemicals LLC, SI Group, Prefere Resins, Momentive Specialty Chemicals Inc., DIC Corporation, Kolon Industries Inc., and, Mitsui Chemicals Inc. These phenol resin players are focusing on establishing strategic agreements and partnerships to broaden and strengthen their production base in the value chain, either by forward integration in terms of supply of raw materials, or manufacturing the product themselves. Recently, BASF SE has expanded its South Korean production base, by doubling its phenol capacity. Few other companies such as Kanoria and Momentive have entered into a joint venture to build new production plants in India.