Leatherhead, UK – The global silicone elastomers market is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.2% from 2019 to 2024, according to a recent report released by Smithers.
The report linked the high rate of growth to the increasing use of silicone elastomers in new and relatively unsaturated markets, in key applications including automotive, electronic equipment, medical and dental devices.
Global demand, according to Smithers, will rise from 495,500 tonnes in 2019 to reach 668,100 tonnes in 2024; with growth especially strong in twin-pack room temperature silicone vulcanising (RTV2) and liquid silicone rubber (LSR) elastomer systems.
However, in the short-term, silicone elastomer producers must face the problem of an historic lack of investment in production capacity for siloxane – the starting block for silicone elastomers.
The tight siloxane supply, the report noted, has led to rising silicone elastomer prices and in particular shortages of high-consistency rubber (HCR), the most important type of silicone elastomer.
With regards to regions, China has long held a strong position in siloxane production, but now many smaller producers have been closed down by authorities, due to tighter environmental regulations.
The closures are leading to a continuing “serious shortfall”, which according to Smithers, will be eased towards the end of the five-year forecast period, as several new large-scale investments in production capacity – announced in 2018 and 2019 – come online in both China and Europe.
In technical terms, one of the key challenges will be to develop better heat and chemical resistance, especially for the automotive segment for wider use in under the-bonnet applications; including in the next generation of electric vehicles.
The main material competition over this time will continue to come from thermoplastic elastomer formulations.
Smithers’ analysis identified a number of emerging market opportunities for silicone elastomers through to 2024, which included stretchable sensors for smart textiles, wearable technologies, bacteria-killing elastomers, electric vehicles and conductive applications.