Polychloroprene (Neoprene) Elastomers
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Published: April 2012
Polychloroprene rubber was the first commercially successful synthetic elastomer; it was synthesized accidentally in 1930 in a DuPont laboratory. First named DuPrene, the elastomer went on the market in 1931. Polychloroprene is produced in a variety of grades in both dry and latex forms. In general, dry grades of polychloroprene rubber are normally used in industrial and automotive rubber goods such as hoses and belts. Latex grades of polychloroprene rubber are used in waterborne adhesives and dipped goods. At present, polychloroprene rubber is produced commercially in the United States, Germany, Japan, Armenia (small amount) and China.
Polychloroprene is noted primarily for its resistance to weathering, excellent combustion behavior, aging and heat resistance, average resistance to oils, good strength, tear and wear resistance, resistance to water and a large number of chemicals over a long period of time, good adhesion to materials, low gas permeability, resistance to soil bacteria and fungi, and good electrical properties for a large number of applications. However, it tends to be higher priced than other elastomers, has only fair dielectric properties, a mediocre resistance to low temperatures and loses resilience above 120°C. Because average under-the-hood temperatures in automobiles continue to increase, auto producers have been substituting competing elastomers; thermoplastic elastomers compete heavily in these markets, offering the additional advantage of recyclability.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of polychloroprene elastomers:
In general, world demand for polychloroprene rubber has not grown like that of other synthetic elastomers because of its relatively high price and increasing substitution from competing elastomers such as EPDM (ethylene-propylene diene monomer rubber), for example. This trend has been most notable in the automotive sector, which represents about 20% of global consumption.
World polychloroprene rubber consumption is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of almost 2% through 2016, with both China and Other Asia showing the highest growth at 3.5%. Consumption growth in the more developed regions of the world is expected to be flat to slightly positive (in the United States and Japan), and slightly negative in Western Europe.