By A Saj Mathews:
Stringent regulations being imposed by governments due to hazardous impact of rubber chemicals on human health and environment are expected to curb the rubber processing chemicals market for the near future.
Rubber chemicals are commodity products that are used in the production of various rubber products. Rubber chemicals are added during production to enhance a product’s elasticity, strength, durability, hardness, flexibility and resistance to wear. Companies in the business of manufacturing rubber goods are the major users of rubber chemicals
Rubber chemicals are used in various rubber products including tyres, automotive parts, surgical gloves, shoe soles etc. Rubber chemicals are also in use in many other commercial, industrial and health applications.
A wide variety of natural or synthetic elastomers, fillers like carbon black, precipitated silica or silicates and additives too are in compounding to create the necessary properties of the final rubber product. The actual chemicals used in this process have changed over time and vary extensively depending on the manufacturing sector including tyres, general rubber goods, re-treading, and on the specific plant.
The conventional rubber goods manufacturing processing which uses these traditional chemicals are now being objected by environmentalists on account of their hazardous impact on human lives and the environment. The latest R&D of the rubber chemicals industry is therefore focussed on developing better rubber processing chemicals which are less harmful.
Complying with regulations
On account of these stringent regulations by governments, the rubber chemicals industry is in for challenging times in the near future. These regulations are expected to curb the rubber processing chemicals market size in the coming future, according to market experts. It is advised that if you suspect that you have purchased a product that contains rubber chemicals, you best up-check to confirm the source and the properties of the rubber chemicals used in the product.
Several regulatory bodies such as the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), and the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) have imposed strict policies regarding the usage of hazardous chemicals and disposal of polluted waste water from rubber processing. And, complying with guidelines set by different regulatory bodies, manufacturers are investing in R&D activities to launch new chemicals. Green tyres are being promoted to reduce environmental impact. Also, silica is being preferred to carbon black owing to its better performance.
Petroleum-based chemicals used in rubber tyre manufacturing are being replaced by fibres and processing oils made of plant cellulose. The Japanese tyre manufacturer Yokohama Tire Corporation is using processing oil derived from orange peels and modified natural rubber compounds to manufacture tyres. These green tyres will also overcome the problem of poor traction in braking and cornering, according to reports.
Large product mix
Based on products, the global rubber processing chemicals market share is divided into accelerators, anti-degradants, flame retardants and processing aids/promoters. Anti-degradants form a major segment in the business and captures over 50% of market size in terms of revenue.
During vulcanization process, it is mixed with other products including curing agents, accelerators and crude rubber to obtain exceptional results in terms of finishing, tensile strength and higher resistance from heat. On the other hand, flame retardants help in improving safety measures by preventing rubber from flame incidents. Such safety measures are likely to promote the use of product in various end-user applications and will effectively enhance growth of the industry.
In 2015, anti-degradants, with a revenue share of 55.5%, formed the largest segment of rubber processing chemicals globally. Anti-degradants are primarily used in manufacturing rubbers to prevent problems such as storage ageing, heat, dynamic flex fatigue, and ozone cracking. In 2015, Asia Pacific registered highest demand for anti-degradants, followed by North America.
The accelerators segment was estimated at 615.8 kilo tonnes in 2015. Accelerators are the chemical agents used to cause vulcanization effectively. Vulcanization accelerators are extensively used in combination with sulphur as cross-linker along with zinc oxide and stearic acid as activators.
Flame retardants are used as processing aids in rubbers, textiles, plastics, surface finishes, and coatings manufacturing. It suppresses chemical reactions by forming a coating on the surface of a material and delays the spread of fire. Flame retardants are projected to be the fastest growing segment at a CAGR of 4.7% during 2016 – 2024.