Ethylene-propylene elastomers (EP elastomers) are one of the most widely used and fastest growing synthetic rubbers, after polybutadiene rubber and styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR). Ethylene-propylene elastomers have outstanding resistance to ozone, aging, weather and high temperature; good low-temperature flexibility and excellent electrical properties. Ethylene-propylene elastomers are also resistant to polar solvents like acids, water, phosphate esters, alkalies and many ketones and alcohols. Ethylene-propylene elastomers have lower densities than all other elastomers and plastics and can accept high loadings of reinforcing agents, fillers and plasticizers, making them an economical choice for a wide range of applications. Ethylene propylene elastomers have use in wide range of industries including: building and construction, automotive, plastic modification, lubricant additive, wire and cables and tyres and tubes among others. Ethylene-propylene elastomers are sold under the brand names Norde, Keltan and Royalene among others.
Ethylene-propylene elastomers have a large number of uses due to the numerous ways in which the polymers can be designed, for example; it is used in automotive weather-stripping and seals, radiators, glass run channels, garden and appliance hoses, belts, tubing, rubber mechanical goods, roofing membranes, plastic impact modification, thermoplastic vulcanisates and motor oil additive applications. Ethylene-propylene elastomers are used as an insulator for high-voltage cables since they have superior insulative characteristics over more traditional cables, such as cross-linked polyethylene, enabling a smaller cross sectional area for the same load carrying capacity. The cable is well suited to applications where regular cable movement is required such as in the mining industry. Polymerization and catalyst technologies in use today provide the ability to design ethylene-propylene elastomers to meet specific and demanding application and processing needs.
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Ethylene-propylene elastomers market is being driven by growth in end-user industries. The ethylene-propylene elastomer market is highly dependent on both the building construction sector and the automotive sector. Consumption of ethylene-propylene elastomers in automotive applications is the major use for ethylene-propylene elastomers, accounting for majority of global demand. Ethylene-propylene elastomers are used for body and chassis parts, door and window weather-stripping, radiator and heater hoses. Hence, growth in the consumption of ethylene-propylene elastomers depends heavily on the growth of the automotive industry as a whole. In addition, growth in plastic modification market will be a major driving factor for the growth of ethylene-propylene elastomers market. Furthermore, the exceptional characteristics and superior performance of ethylene-propylene elastomers will boost the demand for ethylene-propylene elastomers. Emerging markets also have great influence on the rise in demand and production of ethylene-propylene elastomers available on the market. However, increase in the production cost of ethylene-propylene elastomers and rising awareness of health hazards associated with ethylene-propylene elastomers could hamper the growth of this market.
Along with the developed economies like North America and Europe, emerging markets are recording rapid growth in terms of demand and applications for ethylene-propylene elastomers. Asia Pacific is one of the fastest growing markets for ethylene-propylene elastomers due to high growth in end-user industries such as automotive, lubricant additive, wire and cables.
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Some of the key players in this market are Mitsui Chemical (Japan), LANXESS AG (Germany), Versalis (Italy), SK Global Chemical (Japan), Kumho Petrochemical (South Korea), Sumitomo (Japan), ExxonMobil Chemical Corp. (U.S.), Dow Elastomers (U.S.), Lion Copolymer (U.S.), JSR Corporation (Japan), Jilin Chemical (China), SK Global Chemical (Japan) and Sumitomo (Japan) among others.