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Published: August 2010
Polyvinyl butyral (PVB) is a specialty resin used primarily as a raw material for laminated safety glass sheet. It is produced by a few companies that also usually produce sheet. PVB sheet has a number of properties, such as high tensile strength, impact resistance, transparency and elasticity, that make it particularly useful in the production of safety glass. Through its alcohol, ester and acetal linkages, PVB interlayers adhere tightly to glass so that even if the glass is broken, the glass adheres to the interlayer, preventing shattering. Sales in the primary end markets for polyvinyl butyral depend on the performance of the general economy, especially for safety glass in the automotive and architectural markets.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of polyvinyl butyral:
The polyvinyl butyral resin industry is very concentrated and dominated by four companies—Solutia, DuPont, Sekisui and Kuraray.
A developing market with huge potential is PVB film consumption as an encapsulant for photovoltaic solar cells. All four major film and sheet producers have developed film products for this application. The PVB resin and PVB film and sheet industry will expand into China as the quality of its PVB resin improves; this will help supply expanding automotive production (at the expense of imported PVB film and sheet).
Increasing costs of raw materials manufactured from natural gas and crude oil feedstocks, such as polyvinyl alcohol and butyraldehyde, could negatively affect the profitability of polyvinyl butyral consumers, but demand will continue to be driven by strong demand for safety glass.