Propylene oxide (1, 2-epoxypropane, methyloxirane) is an organic compound, colourless and low boiling liquid. It is an epoxide used mainly as an intermediate for production of various commercial materials. Historically PO has experienced rapid growth owing to its versatility as an intermediate product for a variety of high demand materials. The demand for the product declined in 2008-2009 by almost 6% as an impact of the global economic downturn and financial crisis.
Propylene Oxide is second largest derivative of propylene after polypropylene. Propylene oxide is a chemical intermediate used in the production of polyether polyols, propylene glycol whose major outlet is in unsaturated polyester resins and glycol ethers. Polyether polyols is used for production of polyurethanes (rigid & flexible foams) which is the major application of PO accounting for more than 75% of total PO consumption. Propylene oxide is also used in the production for 1, 4-butanediol in North America and Western Europe only. Other end uses for PO include a diverse range of products, including propylene glycol ethers, flame retardants, synthetic lubricants, oil field drilling chemicals, butanediol, propylene carbonate, allyl alcohol, isopropanolamines, modified starches and textile surfactants. Global PO demand is expected to grow at an annual average of 3% to 4% in the long-term forecast.