Synthetic rubber is produced by the polymerization of petroleum-derived monomers. Most synthetic rubbers are made up of two or more monomers and hence have the desired superior properties. There are over 200 varieties of synthetic rubber available. The most consumed forms of synthetic rubber include butadiene rubber (BR), acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (NBR), styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) and ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM). Synthetic rubber has been replacing natural rubber (NR) in a variety of applications due to its inherent advantages in terms of its stability and physical properties. Moreover, the supply of natural rubber is weakening, which makes prices highly volatile. In light of this situation, it is imperative that an alternate source to NR is developed and this comes about in the form of natural rubber.
China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of synthetic rubber owing to large production plants for tire and other products. The U.S., Japan, Korea, and Germany follow China in terms of consumption. Among the various applications, tire manufacturing is the largest consumer of synthetic rubber. However, there has been increasing use of synthetic rubber in footwear and construction. The geographical segmentation of the market includes North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and MENA.
The substantial growth in the market is primarily due to the growth of the automotive industry and the growing demand for tires. Moreover, the growing disposable income levels have further boosted the demand for other applications like footwear and construction. Also, natural rubber has created big crossover opportunities for the development of the synthetic market. Being petroleum derived, synthetic rubber experiences similar price volatility as its raw materials like naphtha, ethylene and benzene. In addition to this, the environmental concerns about crude oil and its derivative could hamper the development of the market.
China is expected to drive the demand for synthetic rubber due to its vast product manufacturing facilities. Furthermore, China has the world’s largest automotive industry and is expected to maintain its position over the next six years. The demand for high performance tires due to the labeling regulations in countries like Japan, Korea, and EU has led to the growth in Solution-SBR (S-SBR) demand. S-SBR is expected to gain a substantial market share over the next six years. Lanxess is the world’s largest manufacturer of synthetic rubber and has over 30 production sites across the world. Some other major players in the market include Dow Chemicals, Sinopec, Versalis, Asahi Kasei, and Synthos S.A among others.
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