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Specialty chemicals are usually manufactured in batch chemical plants using batch processing techniques. A batch process is one in which a defined quantity of product is made from a fixed input of raw materials during a measured period of time.
The batch process most often consists of introducing accurately measured amounts of starting materials into a vessel followed by a series of processes involving mixing, heating, cooling, making more chemical reactions, distillation, crystallization, separation, drying, packaging etc., taking place at predetermined and scheduled intervals.
The specialty chemical market is complex and each specialty chemicals business segment comprises many sub-segments, each with individualized product, market and competitive profiles. This has given rise to a wide range of business needs and opportunities, consequently there are a large number of specialty chemical companies around the world. Many of these companies are SME's with their own niche products and sometimes technology focus. The common stock of over 400 specialty chemical companies from around the world are identified by Bloomberg the providers of global business and financial information. There are many more privately owned specialty chemical companies that are not quoted on the global stock markets.
The 10 largest European specialty chemical companies are BASF, AkzoNobel, Clariant, Evonik, Cognis, Kemira, Lanxess, Rhodia, Wacker and Croda. By definition, specialty chemicals are produced in relatively small quantities but they represent 28 per cent of EU chemical sales.
The 10 largest USA Specialty Chemical Companies are Huntsman, Ashland, Chemtura, Rockwood, Albemarle, Cabot, W. R. Grace, Ferro Corporation, Cytec Industries and Lubrizol.
The emergence of India as a manufacturer and supplier of specialty chemicals has had a major impact on the Global specialty chemical industry. In India the many specialty chemical companies are members of national organizations such as the Indian Chemical Council (ICC) and the Indian specialty chemical manufacturers association (ISMCA). The wide capability of these companies extends into all sectors and sub-sectors of the specialty chemical market.
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