Ethylene propylene rubber is classified into two different types of rubbers including EPM, which is an ethylene propylene monomer, and EPDM, which is a terpolymer and is based on three monomers including ethylene, propylene and a non-conjugated diene. EPM is an entirely saturated ethylene propylene rubber and hence requires vulcanization by radiation that releases free radicals such as organic peroxides. In contrast, EPDM possess residual unsaturation in its side chains and are therefore treated with sulfur and accelerators.
Heat resistance of EPDM is comparatively better as compared to natural rubber and butadiene rubber. Due to the completely saturated hydrocarbon backbone, EPM and EPDM are ozone resistant, heat resistant and oxidation resistant. Owing to the advances in catalyst technologies and polymerization, polymers are designed and manufactured for specific purposes.
Ethylene propylene rubbers are employed in a wide range of applications including automotive weather-stripping and seals, garden and appliance hoses, belts, tubing, roofing membranes, glass run channels, rubber mechanical goods, thermoplastic vulcanisates, plastic impact modification and in motor oil additive applications. Ethylene propylene rubbers are employed largely in the automotive industry as these rubbers are exceptionally heat resistant and are not affected by the continually changing weather.
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Ethylene propylene rubber exhibits stable and saturated backbone structure and hence provides high heat resistance and durability. EPMs are used to a wide extent as insulators for high-voltage cables due to their better insulation characteristics as compared to EPDM. EPM cables are flexible and are better suited in places where regular cable movement is required such as in the mining industry.
Some of the key drivers for the ethylene propylene rubber market is its use in the automobile industry. The automobile industry has been growing in various regions over the past few years and this trend is expected to continue in the near future. Ethylene propylene rubbers are employed in the manufacture of automotive rubber stripping and seals. In addition, ethylene propylene rubber is used as an additive in motor oils and is employed in the production of engine mounts, windshield wipers and brake parts. The demand for ethylene propylene rubbers is largely driven by the automotive industry owing to its high resistance to heat, weather and vibration dampening properties.
The key regions present in the ethylene propylene rubber market include North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Rest of the World (RoW). Asia Pacific is anticipated to be the fastest growing market in terms of demand during the forecast period. This is owing to the growth in the automobile industry in the region especially in emerging regions such as India and China. The changing lifestyle of consumers coupled with the growing disposable income of consumers is likely to boost the automobile industry over the next few years.
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This in turn is expected to drive the ethylene propylene rubber market during the forecast period. Europe follows as the second largest automotive manufacturing region followed by North America and RoW. Additionally, the demand is expected to be very high in the BRIC countries with the increase in number of cars and better road conditions. It is expected that the number of car users in developing countries would increase in the next few years. Due to growth in automobile industry in the above regions, the market for ethylene propylene rubber is estimated to rise by a huge margin over the next few years.
Some of the key companies present in the ethylene propylene rubber market include LANXESS AG, Firestone Building Products Company LLC, ExxonMobil Chemical Company, JSR Corporation, , Mitsui Chemicals, Lion Copolymer LLC., Kumho Polychem Co. Ltd., SK Global Chemical Co. Ltd., and Versalis.