Global Ethers Use Expected to Grow

Global ethers demand is growing

These days, it’s hard to find any products whose demand is expected to grow in a sustained way—especially if they’ve been around for several decades. But that’s exactly the case of ethers like MTBE and ETBE. As air and fuel quality, as well as financial cost considerations continue to come to the forefront, their global use across the world as clean-burning, octane-enhancing fuel oxygenates will continue to grow fast. Below are a few facts on global ether use and demand:

  • Global ethers demand is expected to grow at 3-4% per year. In contrast, global gasoline demand is expected to grow at a much slower rate: 1-2% per year.
  • Three key factors explain the sustained demand growth for ethers
    • Within a context of improving fuel quality standards, ethers efficiently replace lost octane from tighter sulfur, olefin and aromatic specifications.
    • As a source of octane, MTBE is more cost-effective than widely-used alkylates or reformates.
    • Unlike ethanol, the use of non-corrosive, non-hygroscopic, ethers as oxygenates do not entail increased infrastructure and maintenance. Ethers reduce overall emissions potential, while ethanol triggers ozone problems.
  • The Worldwide Fuels Charter (2013), the document that represents the position of “vehicle and engine manufacturers from around the world”, calls ethers the preferred oxygenates.
  • More than 60 countries worldwide already use ethers as gasoline oxygenates.
  • 15 out of the top 20 gasoline-consuming countries already use ethers as fuel oxygenates.
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