Rubber Journal Asia Synthetic Rubber
The anatomy of biobased rubber in tyres Renewably-sourced synthetic rubbers are
making the cut in the growing automotive and tyre markets, says Angelica Buan in this report.
ars are one of the greatest inventions of mankind, the best embodiment to man’s appetite for mobility and speed. But what are cars without tyres? Pneumatic tyres, the modern progeny of the earliest tyres made of leather, steel or wood, use synthetic rubber as well as natural rubber. Synthetic rubber has the ability to return to its original shape when stretched or deformed under stress. It also provides tyres their rolling resistance and good grip. About 60% of the rubber used in the tyre industry is synthetic rubber, hence, demand growth in tyres can be both a blessing and a curse for natural rubber producers because natural rubber only accounts for 40% in tyre production. Research firm Transparency Market Research (TMR) reiterates that synthetic rubber is the best alternative for natural rubber, in its report spanning the period from 2016-2023. The industry is headed for growth valued at nearly US$46 billion during this period, it says. Among factors that veer demand from natural rubber to synthetic rubber is the former’s unstable prices, which is caused by “inconsistent supply, geographic constraints on rubber plantations, long transport distances, and rapidly rising demand for rubber across the globe”, according to the report. Synthetic rubber fills in the lapses from natural rubber, which at the same time help industrial consumers achieve higher profit margins. In the tyre segment, against the backdrop of regulations continuing to be enforced in favour of environmentally-friendly products, performance demand for environmentally-friendly tyres or sustainable cars produced from renewable resources is a boost to synthetic rubber.
Environmental awareness is becoming an important driving force for renewably sourced feedstocks to produce synthetic rubber
than receptive. Citing findings from Global Markets Insights, the synthetic and biobased butadiene market will surpass US$24 billion by 2024, driven by strong growth in the automotive and tyres segments. The overall tyre industry size is expanding, estimated to reach nearly 4 billion units by 2024, and thus, spurring ahead the growth of essential raw materials used in tyre manufacturing, such as butadiene. Nevertheless, while synthetic raw materials are benefitting from automotive and tyres market growth, environmental awareness is likewise becoming an important driving force for renewably sourced feedstocks, to have an edge over synthetic, oil-based counterparts. Markets and Markets in its own report, meanwhile, appraised the butadiene market to be worth more than 16 million tonnes by 2018. It accounts the Asia Pacific region as the world’s largest market for butadiene, which consumed more than half of the total global demand, and also for most of its derivatives that include styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), polybutadiene rubber (PBR), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), and nitrile rubber (NR).
Synthetic rubber from natural sources
he term “natural synthetic rubber” sounds more like a contradiction than a possibility. But new studies on deriving rubber chemicals from natural, renewable sources are proving that contradiction spurs solutions. Tyre compounds like butadiene are in the forefront of such studies, and the market is more
5 AU G U ST 2 017