Published June 2017
Consumption of high-purity isoprene is dominated by demand for and production of polyisoprene elastomers, which accounted for close to 70% of total high-purity isoprene consumption in 2016. Polyisoprene elastomer is used primarily for tires and tire products in the automotive industry, and dipping goods. The other major markets for high-purity isoprene include styrene-isoprene-styrene (SIS) block copolymers (16%) and minor amounts for butyl elastomers (5%). A growing market for SIS has been in hygiene adhesives for personal care, for example in baby diapers, adult incontinence products, and feminine hygiene products. The fastest growth will occur in Asia, as a result of the vast population increase (e.g., the new two-child policy in China) and the rising age of elderly individuals. Butyl elastomers are mainly used in tires and tubes, adhesives and sealants, automotive mechanical goods, and medical uses. SIS will be the fastest-growing market for high-purity isoprene during 2016–21.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of high-purity isoprene:
Considerably smaller amounts of isoprene are converted as an intermediate into specialty chemicals, including vitamins, agrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, flavors and fragrances, specialty isoprenic elastomers, and epoxy hardeners.
Russia continues to dominate the global market for high-purity isoprene. Russia has the largest capacity, production, and consumption of high-purity isoprene. In 2016, the Central and Eastern European region accounted for nearly 50% of the global consumption of high-purity isoprene. The three Russian majors for isoprene production include Nizhnekamskneftekhim, Synthez-Kauchuk, and SIBUR Togliatti, representing 38% of global capacity in mid-2017.
The rapid development and increase of polyisoprene elastomer and isoprene capacity in China, along with decreased polyisoprene rubber production supplemented by low prices for natural rubber and crude oil, has lowered the global capacity utilization rate for high-purity isoprene to around 66% in 2016–17. In addition, the shale revolution in the United States has lowered US isoprene production because of feedstock changes to lighter feeds in ethylene crackers. However, new high-purity isoprene capacity additions in Taiwan and South Korea will start to supply the global market.
The United States is currently the largest importer of high-purity isoprene. Imports have continued to increase in the United States, accounting for over one-third of high-purity isoprene consumption in the United States in 2016.
World consumption of high-purity isoprene will grow at an average annual rate of 2.5% from 2016 to 2021.