Synthetic elastomers are malleable like natural rubber made from latex, but at the same time they are more heat-resistant, more resistant to chemicals and do not depend on harvests or climate. “Synthetic rubber is essential for numerous everyday products and technical applications,” explains Oliver Kutsch, Ceresana’s managing director: “More than 11.8 million tonnes are consumed each year.” This is the fourth time that the market research institute has examined the global market for these elastic plastics.
Main Application: Vehicle Tires
The most important area of application for synthetic elastomers is tires for all types of vehicles: around 54% of total global demand is attributable to original and replacement tires. However, elastic materials are also needed for numerous other products in the automotive industry: Hoses, cables, seals, window and door profiles, but also for engine mounts or bellows for shock absorbers. Ceresana analysts expect global demand for synthetic elastomers in the automotive industry to increase by 2.6% p.a. until 2030.
Technical Rubber Products
The second largest area of application for synthetic elastomers is in dimensionally stable but elastically malleable technical products, such as conveyor belts, roller coverings, molded parts and roof sheeting. There is increasing demand for rubber products from the chemical industry, mechanical engineering, the construction industry and the electrical and electronics industry. Synthetic rubber is also used to modify materials, i.e., as an admixture to other materials. Ceresana forecasts that global demand for elastic plastics in the industrial and construction sectors will increase by 2.4% per year until 2030.
Various Grades of Synthetic Elastomers
Synthetic elastomers are manufactured from raw petrochemical materials, primarily styrene and butadiene. Styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) is by far the most important grade at the moment, with around 5.1 million tonnes consumed in 2020. SBR is produced by emulsion polymerization (E-SBR) or by solution polymerization (S-SBR). E-SBR currently accounts for about 62% of total SBR demand. However, the demand for S-SBR is developing more dynamically, with growth rates of 3.0% per year. The tire industry is the most important market for SBR, as well as for butadiene rubber (BR), butyl rubber (IIR) and polyisoprene (IR). Other elastomer grades, on the other hand, are used primarily for industrial and construction products and for the modification of materials: e.g., ethylene-propylene-diene rubber (EPDM), chlorobutadiene (CR) and acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber (NBR).
Further Information about the Market Study „Synthetic Elastomers – World” (4th Edition): https://www.ceresana.com/en/market-studies/plastics/synthetic-rubber/