Due to China's continuous urbanization process, the demand for decorative building materials in China has also been further amplified, and the architectural coatings market has developed rapidly. At the same time, Chinese consumers are paying more and more attention to the needs of home decoration and beautification, and their environmental protection requirements for architectural coatings are becoming more and more stringent. An important supplier of hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC) that continues to serve China's architectural coatings industry, Mr. Hua Haoming, vice president of Ashland Aqualon Functional Materials Coating Additives, said in an interview: Compared with other countries and Regional consumers, Chinese consumers are particularly sensitive to chemicals, and they will actively choose water-based coating products. This is the most important market factor for the rapid promotion of water-based architectural coatings in China in recent years. At the same time, the expansion of the output of architectural coatings has also brought about the expansion of the demand for cellulose ether.
It is understood that HEC is a main cellulose polymer. This special additive can be used to change and control the rheology, film formation, viscosity and other physical functions of water-based and non-aqueous systems. It is used in architectural coatings, especially water-based architectural coatings. widely. It is worth mentioning that it is precisely because the main raw materials are made of natural cotton and wood pulp, which also caters to the economic development trend of environmental protection and low carbon, especially in line with the current development direction of water-based architectural coatings in my country. For example, in the realization of low-odor and many deodorizing paint formulations, HEC, which is made of natural materials, does not contain VOC itself, and it will naturally not introduce odor when used in paint, which is also in line with the habits of Chinese consumers. "I am so happy to show HEC consumers that our products, especially the raw materials used are very environmentally friendly." Mr. Hua Haoming said in an interview with reporters.
The primary raw material for Ashland's HEC products is cotton. However, due to the impact of natural disasters such as floods in China this year, it directly led to a reduction in production in cotton-producing areas, which made the purchase price of cotton once high. "The direct increase in the cost of raw materials will have a direct impact on customers, but we strive to reduce the pressure on our customers. The method of production technology and production process can reduce the instability caused by natural raw materials, produce products with stable performance, and improve the use efficiency of customers.” At present, about 35% of Ashland’s global products come from biological and Natural Ingredients. At the same time, Hua Haoming also said that in the future, Ashland will consider as many natural biological materials as possible, so as to alleviate the pressure brought by the rising international oil price, and at the same time, it will not add burden to the environment.
By analyzing the characteristics of the Chinese market and targeting the needs of Chinese customers, Ashland has also launched a number of products tailored for the Asian and Chinese markets in China, such as the Natrosol™ HE3KB cellulose ether product launched this year. In Hua Haoming's view: "The unit price of these new products may be a little higher, but in the entire coating formula, the overall cost can be reduced by reducing the amount of use. For cost considerations, we have to We don’t pay attention to price fluctuations on raw materials, but for our customers, we hope to provide HEC products with stable prices and stable supply.”
It is precisely because HEC is widely used in coatings and paints that it is also regarded as a weather vane for the prosperity of the coatings industry. According to Ashland's data, global HEC production capacity growth is consistent with GDP at around 3%-4%, but there are also regional differences. In the past three years, the North American architectural coatings market has shrunk, leading to a decline in HEC demand. However, in China, the demand for HEC has shown an increasing trend of 8%-10%. In Hua Haoming's view, from the perspective of the growth quantity and growth type of the Chinese coatings market, the Chinese coatings market is showing a good trend of both quality and quantity. "An important performance is that Chinese consumers will take the initiative to buy environmentally friendly products when they consume, which is a very healthy way of growth." Hua Haoming said.
According to reports, Ashland is currently the second largest cellulose producer in the world. In addition to having production bases in North America, Europe and other places, the first phase of Ashland's 10,000-ton HEC project in Nanjing has been put into production on December 8. . At the same time, Mr. Hua Haoming also revealed: Based on the optimistic expectation of the future of the Chinese market, the infrastructure required for the second phase of the expansion of the Nanjing factory has been completed. "Since 70% of Ashland's cellulose ether products are applied in the coatings field, with the development of Chinese coatings and the improvement of consumers' awareness of environmental protection, we have the ability to meet the growing market demand in China. For Nanjing HEC As far as the project is concerned, we have fully prepared for the second expansion of production in China.” It is understood that the second-phase production capacity of Ashland’s Nanjing plant HEC is designed to be around 10,000 tons. When it goes into production, Ashland will produce 20,000 tons of HEC in China.