Published April 2016
The majority of furfuryl alcohol is used in the production of furan resins for foundry sand binders in the metal casting industry. Currently, furfuryl alcohol is used mainly in binders for the traditional furan no-bake system and in smaller quantities in furan hot-box, warm-box, and gas-hardened processes. In its main application, the foundry business, furfuryl alcohol competes primarily with phenol, the feedstock for phenolic resins.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of furfuryl alcohol:
The production and use of furfuryl alcohol is centered in China. Low-cost production in China forced most of the industry in North America, Western Europe, and Japan to shutter operations in the 1990s. China has also captured most of the foundry business. Little change is expected in the near future. Any growth in the global industry will depend on activity in China.
China continues to be the world’s largest producer and consumer of furfuryl alcohol, accounting for 80–85% of worldwide capacity and production and about 60% of global consumption in 2015. Since 2000, a number of foundries have relocated to China, which has led to increased domestic demand for furan resins, especially from the automotive, windmill, and machinery industries. However, it is expected that Chinese demand for furan resins in the heavy casting industry will grow at a slower rate in the near future, at about 3% annually on average.
In Other Asian countries (not including China and Japan), the market is expected to grow at about 2% annually, mainly in furan resins used in the shipbuilding, automotive, machinery, and electronic industries. Japan imports all its furfuryl alcohol requirements. Little growth is expected.
It is estimated that about 85–90% of worldwide demand for furfuryl alcohol in 2015 was used for the production of furan resins. The remaining applications include tetrahydrofurfuryl alcohol (THFA), and use in solvents, flavor and fragrance chemicals, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals. THFA is used mainly as a specialty solvent or chemical intermediate, with its primary end markets being agricultural chemicals, coatings, and cleaning solutions.