Published August 2015
Ethylene-propylene elastomers (EP elastomers) are the third-largest synthetic rubber consumed worldwide, after styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) and polybutadiene rubber (BR). EP elastomers are characterized by their outstanding resistance to ozone, aging, weather, and high temperatures. Moreover, they possess good low-temperature flexibility and have excellent electrical properties. These combined characteristics make EP elastomers particularly useful in certain automotive parts/components, single-ply roofing, appliance parts, polymer modification, wire and cable sheathing, viscosity index improvers for lubricating oils, hoses, sports fields and tracks, and other miscellaneous applications. In addition, EP elastomers have lower densities than all other elastomers and plastics and can accept high loadings of reinforcing agents, fillers, and plasticizers, rendering them an economical choice for a wide range of applications.
Consumption of EP elastomers in automotive applications is their major use, accounting for approximately 60% of global demand (including use in oil additives, as well as most polymer modification uses).
The following pie chart shows world consumption of ethylene-propylene elastomers:
Future consumption of EP elastomers will depend on several important key factors—continuing competition between EP elastomers and other polymers/copolymers; automobile production levels; the level of new building construction, along with competition among single-ply roofing materials and re-roofing rates; and regional GDP growth.
The world consumption situation for EP elastomers will change by 2019, as China becomes the dominant market. In 2019, China, the United States, Western Europe, and Japan are expected to account for 26%, 22%, 18%, and 6% of world consumption of EP elastomers, respectively. This shift follows the steady growth of the Chinese automotive and construction industries.
The global market for ethylene-propylene elastomers is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of just over 3%. The major drivers of this market continue to be the automotive industry and the construction industry.