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Global Consumption of Non-tire Elastomers to Reach 16.3 M Tons: Smithers Rapra

Published on 2015-12-28. Author : SpecialChem

In its new market report – The Future of Natural and Synthetic Rubber for Non-Tire Applications to 2020 –Smithers Rapra detects a developing upward trend.

Smithers Rapra
Fig. 1: Smithers Rapra

The global market for non-tire elastomers was around 12.8 million tons in 2012 and grew to 13.2 million tons in 2013, an increase of 2.8%. In 2014, total consumption grew to 13.5 million tons with an increase of 2.9%.* The year-on-year average increase for the Smithers study period (2013-2020) is forecast to be 3.1%, as this trend continues, culminating in overall consumption of 16.3 million tons in 2020.

As the global market evolves, demand for non-tire elastomers in Asia-Pacific is expected to continue to expand at an above-average rate, which is reflected in global elastomer consumption. More mature economies, such as Japan, will show less growth relative to the emerging national markets in the region.

Of the remaining regional markets, North America will be slightly ahead of Europe and the rest of the world; mostly due to the US economy picking up faster than Europe from the global recession that began in 2008.

In terms of global market by end-use application, non-tire automotive applications are the dominant market sector. The sector is estimated to have accounted for 31.1% of non-tire consumption in 2013, a share that will decline only slightly to 30.8% in 2020.
Across the study period estimated consumption of natural and synthetic rubber in non-tire automotive applications will rise from 4.1 million tons in 2013 to 5.0 million tons in 2020. This represents an average year-on-year increase of 3%.

The second largest sector – building, construction and civil engineering products – accounted for 13.2% of the market in 2013, or 1.7 million tons. This is expected to grow to 2 million tons in 2020, but will see the lowest growth rate of any segment – just on average per year 1.9%.

Global relative market share of elastomers in various non-tire applications 2013 and 2020

Access to an exclusive data set and primary research compiled producing this report allows Smithers Rapra to chart the differing fortunes of the key elastomer materials in the non-tire market across the next five years.

Natural rubber

The main driver in elastomers is demand for improved performance, a focus that has greatly reduced consumption of natural rubber (NR). With the exception of epoxidized-NR, this elastomer is essentially the same product that it has been for the past 20-30 years, which accounts for its continuing loss of market share.

This is in contrast to synthetic rubbers that are more resistant to oxygen and ozone, and especially offer superior temperature resistance.

Due to their output’s lack of performance when compared to synthetic rubber, NR-producing countries are fighting to keep prices stable, as oversupply becomes an issue. In H2 2014, global NR prices fell by just under 19%. There is minimal growth in NR, but in comparison synthetic rubber growth far outreaches it.

Smithers’ forecasts the relative decline will continue over the 2013–2020 study period. The mean annual increase for will be only 2.2% for natural rubber in non-tire applications, below the market average, and behind the 2.8% average increase estimated for the same material in tire applications.

Styrene-butadiene rubber

Emulsion-polymerized styrene-butadiene rubber (E-SBR) is rapidly being replaced by solution SBR (S-SBR) in tire applications. This is due to its superior performance, and the drive to achieve high tire label ratings. While it is more difficult to process than E-SBR, compounders are increasingly learning to handle S-SBR successfully.

The solution process is more efficient than the emulsion process in that 100% of the monomers are converted into polymer – whereas in the emulsion process, only about 70% are converted. Also water treatment regulations are becoming more stringent and more expensive. Taking the solvent out of the elastomer during the processing stage is less expensive, due to it being more volatile than water.

Eventually industry overcapacity and investment amortizations are likely to decrease the price difference between the two products in tire and non-tire applications over the next 10-15 years. There is even talk that certain producers of E-SBR could exit the business due to shrinking profit margins. Major manufacturers, including Lanxess and Trinseo, have already committed to switching production to S-SBR.

Polybutadiene rubber

The growth rate of polybutadiene rubber (BR) in non-tire applications is better than NR and E-SBR, but less than that of S-SBR.

This elastomer is mostly used in tire applications. Its main non-tire application is as alkyl-lithium catalyzed BR, which is employed as an impact modifier for styrenic polymers. Since there is very little growth in styrenic polymers, there is consequently little expectation for significant growth of BR in non-tire applications. Smithers forecast a modest increase of 2.3% per year for 2013-2020.

Styrene block copolymers

The driver behind the growth in the styrene block copolymers (SBC) product group is its diversity. It is benefiting from a number of growing applications in thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs), especially styrene-ethylene-butylene-styrene (SEBS). For example, there is a strong market for SBS-based TPE in footwear.

Market growth is particularly strong in Asia-Pacific, with increased use of styrene-butadienestyrene (SBS) in bitumen modification. Other expanding applications are use of styrene-isoprene-styrene (SIS) in adhesives and the use of SEBS in medical and healthcare applications.

Together Smithers Rapra sees these trends producing a yearly average increase of 4.3% for 2013-2020.


Other growth areas in the non-tire market are olefin elastomers, ethylene propylene diene rubber (EPDM) and Polyolefin elastomers (POE); and silicone and high-performance elastomers – such as ethylene acrylic rubber (AEM) and polyacrylate rubber (ACM) – because of their heat-resistant properties

About Smithers Rapra

Smithers Rapra is a global leader in rubber, plastics and polymer testing, consulting services, and conferences, training, publications and market reports, focused mainly on the tire, industrial, automotive, consumer and medical industries.

Smithers Rapra encompasses what was previously Smithers Rapra Technologies, established in the United Kingdom in 1919 and Smithers Scientific Services, established in the United States in 1925.

Smithers Rapra

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