Butyric acid is a carboxylic acid, also known as butanoic acid, with its esters and salts known as butanoates and butyrates. It exhibits an unpleasant smell, having an acrid taste and is usually found in the milk of farm animals such as buffalo, sheep and goat.
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Butyric acid is industrially manufactured by the fermentation of starch or sugar, with the addition of putrefying cheese, added with calcium carbonate for the purpose of neutralizing the acids formed in the procedure. This fermented butyric acid is also found as octyl butyrate in parsnip, and as hexyl butyrate in the oil of hogweeds. As butyric acid is also manufactured at a relatively low rate, yield and concentration, traditional butyric acid fermentation process is not yet economically competitive.
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It is also manufactured via chemical synthesis on an industrial scale which involves the oxidation of butyraldehyde, obtained from propylene which is derived by oxosynthesis from crude oil. On account of availability of starting materials and lower production costs, wide preference is given to the chemical synthesis of butyric acid. Although fermentation is relatively expensive than chemical synthesis of butyric acid, it has succeeded in garnering more attention owing to rising consumer demand for natural and organic products as compared to chemically synthesized products, as well as rapid increase in crude oil prices needed for the chemical synthesis of butyric acid.
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Increasing production of butyric acid has been witnessed from processing wastes and agriculture industry. It used in a wide range of applications such as food, chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Butyric acid shares a wide application scope in the chemical industry, in addition to its increasing demand as a precursor to biofuels. Focus on research and development activities has been directed towards alternative fuel sources with the increase in petroleum price as well as continuous reduction in availability of petroleum coupled with growing demand for clean energy sources.
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Biofuels offer many environmental advantages such as security of supply, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and sustainability. Moreover, as biofuels are one of the most promising sources for replacing gasoline in the future, significant attention has been paid towards bio-butanol, with its major use as industrial solvents while also offering certain advantages over ethanol in transportation fuels. These factors have significantly contributed towards the increasing demand for butyric acid in biofuels
Some of the key manufacturers have entered into several collaborations and agreements with other companies for the marketing of new products as well as garnering a larger share in the market. Large scale manufacturers such as Eastman Chemical Company have implemented various growth strategies for increasing their production capacity by an additional 11 million pounds of butyric acid to support growing internal and external demand for the acid.
The agreement was made in January 2013 with the company disclosing their purpose of satisfying the demand for butyric acid which they have currently forecasted, while also mentioning their capability to expand further as demand increases. Increasing demand for butyric acid from the several end-user industries such as food & beverage and pharmaceuticals are expected to be one of the major growth factors for the market. However, rising health concerns regarding the toxic use of butyric acid is expected to slow down the growth of the market. Increasing implementation of butyric acid as biofuels is expected to provide new opportunities for the growth of the market.
Alfa Aesar GmbH & CO KG, Dmitrievsky Chemical Plant, and Eastman Chemical Company are some of the major manufacturers of butyric acid present in the market.