ICB Americas: May 2007
AS BIOCIDE producers cope with mixed demand, heightened
regulatory measures and fluctuating raw material costs, they are at the same
time moving to greener products and seeing growth in new applications. Biocides
are used in a variety of applications including paints and coatings, oilfield
processes, water treatment, plastics, wood treatment and more.
"The overall biocides market is only growing
moderately," says Mike Sheehan, business manager in North America for Rohm
and Haas Biocides. "As in many similar markets, growth opportunities are
in share gain."
In the US, demand for biocides will grow 4.3% annually
through 2010, according to Freedonia Group, a Cleveland, Ohio-based market
research company. Gains will be driven by sustained production levels in key
outlets and by heightened awareness of the dangers of bacterial growth and
food-borne pathogens. "The demand for biocides in the United States is
increasing, and we expect that trend to continue," says Oliver Kretschik,
market manager for Lanxess. "Traditional chemistries are being replaced by
The Biocidal Products Directive (BPD), adopted in 1998, aims
to ensure that all biocidal products on sale are safe when used properly and can
be freely traded within the European Union (EU). Meeting the regulatory
requirements for registration under the BPD has been no small task for
producers, but most agree that it's a necessary process.
Biocidal regulations are affecting producers in a number of
ways, says Niall D'Arcy, project manager at Biocide Information, Waterford
Institute of Technology in Ireland. Regulations are restricting the usage of
biocides that are produced and increasing the costs to support some biocides
under new regulations. This will result in some biocides being withdrawn from
"We think BPD will actually have a positive effect on us
as we are making the significant investment needed to register our products for
BPD," says Rohm and Haas's Sheehan. "BPD will bring greater
consistency among products sold in Europe, as well as raise the level of
While the regulations are becoming more stringent, officials
agree these changes will benefit the global biocide industry.
"Dow Biocides sees the increased regulation in Europe,
Asia, and other parts of the world as positive for the industry," says
Mark Henning, general manager, Dow Biocides. "It is imperative that the
use of biocides are regulated, and handled properly to gain the full benefit to
society of these valuable compounds."
Last September, the European Commission launched a study to
provide key findings and lessons learned from the implementation of Directive
98/8/EC on biocidal products, six years after its coming into force.
What the study may find is that biocide producers have put
great effort into meeting the standards set forth in the directive and
appreciate the need for regulation.
"Our colleagues in Europe have been working diligently
to address all BPD requirements," says Udo Reigber, head of the Americas
Material Protection Products division (MPP) of Lanxess. "Meeting the
additional regulatory requirements is expensive and time-consuming, but these
requirements will protect consumers, and in the long term will benefit all stake-holders
-customers, product manufacturers, and the biocidal industry in general."
The regulatory climate may be the best known challenge for
the biocide market today, but producers are also dealing with a variety of
other issues as well.
Some of the biggest trends in the biocide market also include
the desire for more environmentally friendly products and more cost-effective
offerings, according to Dow Biocide officials. "The increasing regulations
lead to the need for a more thorough characterization and understanding of the
intrinsic properties of biocidal actives," says Nanette Hermsen, global
marketing manager, Dow Biocides. "The data requirements have never been
stricter, leading to the imminent phase-out of certain chemistries and a better
understanding of the remaining chemistries."
Raw material price pressures are being felt in many areas of
the chemical market and biocide producers can be lumped into the mix.
"We have experienced increased raw material costs over
the last few years, especially due to bromine and iodine price increases,"
says Navnit Upadhyay, regional manager, Lanxess. Increasing regulations can put
financial pressures on producers, but at the same time may also lead to new
chemistries that enhance products and may even help cut costs.
"In today's world, it is a real challenge to maintain
margin," says William Woods, manager of business development, industrial
biocides, International Specialty Products (ISP). "Reformulation of
products to lower-cost raw materials is one approach."
Growing new branches
Biocides are used in various sectors, but demand in the US is
strongest for oilfield chemicals, and will continue to be, as long as oil
prices remain high, says Dow Biocides' Hermsen. Although oilfield chemicals
look to have the most potential at the moment, application needs are expanding.
"Another key trend in the market is the growing
awareness and demand from the consumer for antimicrobial benefits and
features," Hermsen says. "There is an explosion of products with
mold-resistant properties and antimicrobial properties."
The use of biocides in plastics can be seen in various
applications, such as in hospitals, schools, construction sites and kitchen
items. Biocides help protect plastic from mold and other destructive bacteria.
"Demand for antimicrobials in coatings and plastics remains strong,"
says ISP's Woods. "Growth should track the GNP [Gross National
The global consumption of biocides in plastics was $145m at
active manufacture level in 2006, according a report from Research and Markets,
a Dublin, Ireland-based international market research group.
"Currently, we see good demand in most industrial
segments, such as plastics, metalworking, coatings, adhesive and sealants,
water treatment, and in household and institutional markets," says Rohm
and Haas's Sheehan. "Any producer that supplies to the B&C [building
and construction] market in the US today would expect to see some slowdown in
downstream products supplied to this market."
Join the revolution
In the world of the green revolution, little is left
untouched. Biocide producers, along with the rest of the chemical industry, are
working to make their products greener and promote their benefits and greener
Lanxess recently launched its Benzisothiazolinone-based
VOC-free (volatile organic compound-free) products. "We have low-VOC and
VOC-free products sold under our brand names Biochek industrial preservative,
Tektamer commercial microbiocide, and Metasol commercial
fungicide/parasitic/biocide," says Lanxess" Reigber. "One of our
chemistries is in the process of receiving FDA approval for a unique
ISP is also introducing greener industrial biocides. In
particular, the company is focusing on lower-VOC products through reformulation
away from organic solvents and co-solvents.
Producers are making more water-based formulations, according
to the Waterford Institute's D'Arcy. Resources are also being invested in
delivery devices to ease application of biocides.
Producing greener products is imperative, but considering the
use of the products is also an important step in the process.
The first step to green biocides is to make sure all of the
most environmentally friendly biocides are in the company portfolio, Dow
Biocide officials explain. "The second step to green biocides is to reduce
the use of biocides to the minimum level required for proper efficacy,"
says Rick Strittmatter, global research and development leader, Dow Biocides.
The third and final step in green biocides process is to
ensure the proper handling and use of the biocides in all applications.
Chlorine-based chemicals have been the disinfectants of
choice for treating drinking water for nearly a century. But higher-value
specialty products will continue to replace chlorine and other commodities in
water treatment, according to a report from Freedonia.
"Chlorine continues to have a strong position in the
marketplace," says Kevin Ajoku, market manager, Lanxess. "However, we
have seen an influx of bromine and bromine-based products used as oxidizers,
and an increase in organic biocides used as non-oxidizers. It remains to be
seen if customers will continue to use higher value products or will revert to
using chlorine as a low-cost oxidizer."
Niall D'Arcy, project manager at Biocide Information,
Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland agrees that higher-value specialty
products are replacing chlorine and other commodities in water treatment in the
US and some European countries, but not in Asia and developing countries.