Waxes : new challenges for an ‘old’ product
Both vegetable (rice bran, montan, carnauba, etc) and synthetic waxes (paraffins,
polyethylene, Fischer Tropsch) – many times ‘forgotten’ due to the low % in recipes – are
experiencing structural changes in both production technologies and market conditions.
To take advantage of this one must be prepared to be flexible in formulating.
The usage of vegetable waxes will get a boost due to the ‘green wave’ with montan waxes
probably on the losing side (‘Kohlenausstieg’ in Germany). Rice bran wax seems to be the
winner long term but for now growth is hampered by lack of adequate suppliers.
The trend for the availability of paraffin wax, from Group 1 lubricants, is downwards.
Decreasing production capacities in USA and Europe is for now compensated by exports
from especially China. Question is for how long? Also, the increased capacities of Fischer
Tropsch waxes in China are possibly on the brink to replace Fully Refined paraffins in the
larger applications as candles and wood coating. Turmoil is to be expected. And the duopoly
Sasol/Shell under threat.
PE waxes are dominantly supplied by BASF (Luwax), Clariant (Licowax), Innospec (Viscowax),
Honeywell (AC), Great Lakes (Epolene) and BakerHughes (Polywax). Unknown to many
consumers is the existence of competing producers of non-polmerized PE waxes, which can
bring important economic advantages. In many applications also Fischer Tropsch waxes are
increasingly competitive and will replace polymerized PE waxes and their derivatives as
oxidized PE waxes. This is most important in hot melt adhesives, plastics processing and
Waxes used in rubber processing is small in non-tire applications and done on the basis of
tradition. A wide range of grades is used. In the tire sector, wax blends are offered by
suppliers, which are closely linked to paraffin wax producers.
In EMEA , Qingdao Sinoplas (China) offers both FT and PE waxes to both direct accounts and
via distribution partners like Fournier Benelux (Oosterhout).