Unsaturated Fatty Alcohols Market: Overview

Fatty alcohols are typically high molecular weight (HMW) compounds with straight, long chains. The number of carbon atoms in fatty alcohols can range from four to more than 30 in their chain. The source of fatty alcohols (natural fats and oils) affects the length of their chain. Common and important commercial fatty alcohols include oleyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and lauryl alcohol.

Unsaturated fatty alcohols are produced by reducing fatty acids or esters. Oleyl alcohol is an unsaturated fatty alcohol with chemical formula C18H36O. It is also known as octadecenol or cis-9-octadecen-1-ol. It is synthesized by hydrogenation of oleic acid esters. It is used in personal care and cosmetic products such as lotions, skin creams, shampoos, and hair conditioners due to its properties such as emulsifier, nonionic surfactant, thickener, and emollient. Other unsaturated fatty alcohols include stearyl alcohol (octadecanol-1) and cetyl alcohol (hexadecanol-1).

Unsaturated fatty alcohols are employed in the manufacture of surfactants and detergents. They are also used as ingredients in foods, industrial solvents, and cosmetic products. Some of the cosmetic products where unsaturated fatty alcohols are used include color cosmetics, hair treatments, and skin care products. Their function as an industrial solvent, lubricant, and corrosion inhibitor can be observed in polymer processing and metal working applications. They also exhibit properties of emollients, thickeners, and emulsifiers. Thus, unsaturated fatty alcohols are used in personal care and food industries. 

Unsaturated Fatty Alcohols Market Trends

Unsaturated fatty alcohols have attained extensive commercial applications due to their unusual surface active properties. Typically, there are two commercial methods of preparing unsaturated fatty alcohols: sodium reduction and hydrogenation. Unsaturated fatty alcohols can be prepared from natural sources as well as synthesized chemically. They are prepared from either acids, esters, or wax esters. Palm kernel oil and coconut oil are used to produce unsaturated fatty alcohols with 12 to 14 carbon atoms, while soybean oil, tallow, and palm oil are employed as sources for alcohols with 16 to 18 carbon atoms.

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Implementation of strict environmental regulations regarding the synthesis process of unsaturated fatty alcohols is driving the manufacturers to come up with processes that are more efficient and cause less pollution. Usually, two metal catalysts are employed in the synthesis process of unsaturated fatty alcohols. The focus of the research in the last two decades has been on the use of metals in group eight as catalysts, with a second metal (for instance tin) operating as promoter. 

Unsaturated Fatty Alcohols Market Segmentation

Based on chemical, the market for unsaturated fatty alcohols can be segmented into oleyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, and others.

In terms of type, the unsaturated fatty alcohols market can be divided into ethoxylates, phosphates, sulfates, ethersulfates, propoxylates, and non-modified unsaturated fatty alcohols.

Based on application, the market for unsaturated fatty alcohols can be segregated into cosmetics & personal care, pharmaceuticals, detergents, textile auxiliaries, polymer processing, metal working, and others. 

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Unsaturated Fatty Alcohols Market: Region-wise Outlook

Emerging economies and changing lifestyles in Asia Pacific and Latin America have been boosting the market for unsaturated fatty alcohols in plasticizers application. Furthermore, increase in environmental awareness and related legal stipulations have been the cause of developments in the plasticizer market in several emerging economies such as China, India, Brazil, and Russia.

North America and Europe held higher share of the overall market for unsaturated fatty alcohols, as these regions have reached the stage of maturity with respect to the expansion of skin care and hair care industries. 

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Unsaturated Fatty Alcohols Market: Key Players

Key players operating in the unsaturated fatty alcohols market include Ecogreen Oleochemicals, AkzoNobel N.V., P&G Chemicals, Stepan Company, and The Lubrizol Corporation.