Polyisobutylene, a copolymer of isobutylene and isoprene, is used extensively in the manufacture of inner tubes of tires, adhesives, agricultural chemicals, caulks, sealants, pulp & paper, and chewing gum, among others. It possesses thermal stability, good flexibility, and impermeability to gases. Additionally, it offers high resistance to acids, alkalis, and salts. Depending on the applications, different molecular weight grades or combinations of several polyisobutylene grades are used to achieve the properties of final products. Generally, low molecular weight polyisobutylene is used as tackifier and plasticizer, while medium and high molecular weight polyisobutylene is used to adjust properties such as flexibility, elongation, cohesive strength, and gas barrier performance.
Medium molecular weight polyisobutylene is employed as viscosity modifier, tack improver in adhesive formulations, and primary binder in caulking and sealing compounds. It is also used in fuel and lubricating oil additives. It is extensively used as a protective barrier in the adhesive industry. For instance, it is used where exposure to sunlight is a potential risk for sealants. Medium molecular weight polyisobutylene is employed in insulating glass sealants and roofing membranes in the construction industry. Furthermore, it is used in protective films or acoustic barriers in the automotive industry. Medium molecular weight polyisobutylene is also an essential ingredient in the production of chewing gums.
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Rising demand for sealants and adhesives coupled with increasing need for medium molecular weight polyisobutylene in lubricating oils is anticipated to augment the medium molecular weight polyisobutylene market in the near future. Asia Pacific comprises economies such as China and India, which possess strong manufacturing-based industries. Hence, demand for lubricants is high in the region. This is expected to fuel the medium molecular weight polyisobutylene market over the duration of the forecast period. However, stringent regulations on the manufacture and usage of medium molecular polyisobutylene owing to potential hazards to aquatic creatures may hamper market growth in the near future. Increase in demand for chewing gum is anticipated to open new avenues for the medium molecular weight polyisobutylene market in the near future.
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Adhesives was the largest application segment of the global medium molecular weight polyisobutylene market, accounting for over 40% share in 2014. It is also estimated to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period due to its increasing usage in pressure sensitive adhesives, roofing sealants, and cable glazing applications. Medium Molecular weight polyisobutylene is an important component in hot melt adhesive and polymer based adhesives formulations. Hot melt adhesives and polymer-based adhesives are used in panel lamination in the automobile industry. Growth of the automobile industry is projected to drive the medium molecular weight polyisobutylene market in the next few years.
In terms of region, Asia Pacific dominated the medium molecular weight polyisobutylene market in 2014. It is also expected to be the fastest growing regional segment during the forecast period. Europe was the second-largest regional segment of the medium molecular polyisobutylene market in 2014, followed by North America. The medium molecular weight polyisobutylene market in Latin America and Middle East & Africa is likely to expand significantly during the forecast period. Global sales of medium molecular weight polyisobutylene declined during 2008 and 2009 due to the economic slowdown; however, the business revived in 2010. The market has been expanding since then.
Key players operating in the medium molecular weight polyisobutylene market include BASF SE, Zhejiang Shunda New Material Co., JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation, and Shandong Hongrui Petrochemical Co., Ltd.