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Importance of PVC in the Indian Petrochemical Industry

Manufacturing of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in India started 60 years ago with the country’s first PVC plant set up in Mumbai in 1951. The plant operated by Calico had a capacity of 6000 mt/year. At present, the Indian PVC industry boasts of a production capacity of 1.3 million mt/year.  pvc tarpaulin

In India, Chemplast Sanmar, DCM Shriram Consolidated, DCW, Finolex and Reliance Industries have been producing PVC. The latest entrant into the Indian PVC market is the Vivanta group, whose 240,000 mt/year PVC plant started operations in 2013.

PVC, one of the oldest forms of commodity polymers, is today regarded as an infrastructure plastic and finds various infrastructure applications, such as in pipes, ducts, wires, cables, floorings, windows and roofing. Furthermore, the use of PVC in other sectors such as automobiles, medical and healthcare, packaging and sports and leisure is also increasing.

PVC is a thermoplastic composed of 57% chlorine and 43% carbon. It is less dependent than other polymers on crude oil or natural gas, which are non-renewable, and hence PVC can be regarded as a natural resource saving plastic. Although PVC can be produced from various hydrocarbons including coal, the bulk of the world’s PVC is currently manufactured using ethylene, which is combined with chlorine to produce ethylene dichloride (EDC), the raw material for the manufacture of vinyl chloride monomer (VCM). VCM is further polymerized to produce PVC. PVC is also produced using calcium carbide, which is widely prevalent in China.

According to Chemical Marketing Associates Inc. (CMAI), the global consumption of PVC in 2010 was 34.8 million mt from an overall capacity of 46 million mt, and accounted for 18% of the total consumption of polymers. The global demand for PVC is estimated to rise to 44 million mt and the global PVC capacity is expected to rise to 55 million mt by 2015.

According to industry sources in India, the country’s PVC demand is currently pegged at 2.08 million mt/year and the capacity is pegged at 1.33 million mt/year. The consumption of PVC in India is expected to increase to 3.1 million mt/year by 2016-17 and the nation’s PVC capacity is expected to rise to 1.63 million mt/year. As is evident from the above-mentioned demand and supply numbers, PVC demand is expected to exceed supply.

Pipes
Pipes have been the biggest end-use sector for PVC with a share of approximately 70%. The use of PVC in pipes results in energy saving at all stages of the life cycle of a pipe, namely, extraction of raw materials, production, transportation, usage and recycling. Besides saving energy, PVC pipes also help protect environment by reducing CO2 emissions. With an investment of Rs. 20 lakh crore towards infrastructure development in India in 2011-12 and a projected investment of Rs. 40 lakh crore till 2016-17, the consumption of PVC in pipes is expected to progressively increase and reach 10 million mt by 2017 from a current estimated consumption of 6 million mt. Furthermore, energy savings from using PVC in pipes would amount to 51.6 million MWh by 2016-17 from an estimated 31.4 million MWh savings currently and 16 million MWh savings in the period 2002 to 2007. Likewise, reduction in CO2 emissions would amount to 182 million mt by 2016-17 from 57.7 million mt in 2006-07 and an estimated 110.6 million mt currently.

PVC pipes have the following advantages over ductile iron (DI) and galvanized iron (GI) pipes:

• Light in weight and easy to install.
• Non-corrosive.
• Exhibit a low coefficient of friction.
• More resistant to abrasion than DI or GI pipes.
• Exhibit a low thermal conductivity.
• Exhibit flexibility and biological resistance.
• Non-toxic and maintenance-free.
• Excellent jointing techniques.

It is estimated that in India, PVC usage in pipes will reach 9,790 kt by 2017 from an estimated current consumption of 6,000 kt.

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