Polytetramethylene ether glycol (PTMEG) is a waxy, white solid that melts to a clear, colorless, viscous liquid near room temperature. PTMEG is produced by the catalyzed polymerization of tetrahydrofuran (THF). The chief uses of PTMEG are in the production of spandex (polyurethane) fibers, polyurethane elastomers, and copolyester-ether elastomers.
The two largest global PTMEG producers—BASF and Dairen Chemical Corporation—together accounted for 49% of world capacity by the end of 2015. INVISTA was the fourth-largest producer in 2012 and remains a major consumer of PTMEG, but in lieu of constructing new plants following the capacity reduction in Western Europe, the company has licensed its process technology to producers in China in exchange for long-term supply agreements. All of the major producers have made investments in China.
The majority of new plants and capacity expansions have taken place in China, to supply the country's rapidly growing market for spandex. Chinese PTMEG production capacity doubled between 2012 and 2015. China currently accounts for about 59% of global capacity, about 57% of global consumption, and about 48% of global production,
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