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Published: April 2013
This report covers the following styrenic copolymer and terpolymer products:
- Styrenic block copolymers (SBC) including styrenic block copolymer (SBC, TPE-S) elastomers and rigid, high-styrene-content styrene-butadiene copolymer (HS-SBC) resins
- Styrene-acrylic ester copolymers
- Ion exchange resins (IER, styrene-divinylbenzene copolymers)
- Weatherable styrenic copolymers (acrylonitrile-styrene-acrylate [ASA] and acrylonitrile-EPDM-styrene [AES])
- Methacrylate-butadiene-styrene (MBS)
- Styrene–maleic anhydride (SMA)
- Acrylonitrile-chlorinated polyethylene-styrene (ACS)
The market for styrenic copolymers was hit by the global economic crisis during 2008–2009 and demand for essentially all styrenic copolymers declined. In 2010–2012, the markets recovered and demand for styrenic copolymers increased.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of styrenic copolymers by type:
The United States continues to be the most important market in the Americas, accounting for more than two-thirds of the total consumption.
The majority of Western European styrenic copolymer demand is concentrated predominately in Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Benelux countries. However, growth in demand is often driven by the Central and Eastern European countries and especially the larger markets of Russia/CIS and Poland. The current eurozone crisis has greatly impacted most end-use markets for all styrenic copolymers. Depending on 2013–2014 eurozone developments, the 2012–2018 forecast could be downgraded.
In Asia and especially in China, SBC elastomer capacity additions are being prompted by rising demand from applications in the adhesives, compounding, construction and footwear sectors, among others. On the other hand, in the United States and Europe, the market is continuing to consolidate.
Global HS-SBC demand in 2012 was down about 25% from its peak level in 2007. Asia accounts for nearly half of world demand. The Americas (North America and Central and South America) and Europe each account for about 26%. Global HS-SBC demand is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of 3% from 2012 to 2018, resulting in a 2018 demand level that will still be below precrisis levels.
Styrene-acrylic (ester) copolymers are used mainly for coatings (architectural surface coatings, paper sizing, paper pigment binder and floor polish), toner raw materials (for laser printers and photocopiers), adhesives and as a binder for nonwovens. Generally, these polymers contain 20–45% styrene with acrylic/methacrylic esters and/or acids comprising the remaining portion. Growth is forecast to be fastest in Asia, at an average annual rate of about 6% during 2012–2018; growth in the Americas is expected to be around 3%.
Ion exchange resins compete with ultrafiltration processes such as reverse osmosis, particularly in larger treatment plants and with electrical deionization at lower flow rates. New niches for ion exchange resins include applications in the fields of pharmaceuticals, electronics and biofuels. U.S. ion exchange resin markets are relatively mature and growth in total demand is projected to average 2% per year from 2012 to 2018. Ion exchange resin markets are mature in Western Europe. Demand for commodity applications like water treatment has not recovered since 2009 on a volume basis and has even declined slightly in a few European countries. The main reasons for the decline are the economic downturn (which led to industrial sites' closing down) and increased competition from osmotic membrane technology. However, in terms of value, the market has registered an increase, as a result of rising prices. The Japanese market is expected to maintain the current level or slightly increase during the next five years. From 2012 to 2018, Chinese consumption of ion exchange resins is expected to grow at an average rate of 6.5% annually.