The global isobutene market size was USD 20.61 billion in 2015. High demand from end-use industries such as automotive and aerospace is expected to drive industry growth over the forecast period. The chemical is widely used in rubber tires & tubes and as a fuel additive in aerospace applications
Isobutene or isobutylene is majorly utilized for the production of polybutylene (butyl rubber) and as an intermediate for manufacturing methyl tert-butyl ether. These products are widely utilized in plastic packaging, hot melt adhesives, compounding & masterbatches and niche areas such as electrical insulation, compression packaging, and wires & cables.
China isobutene market revenue by product, 2014 - 2024 (USD Million)
As a hydrocarbon of industrial importance, the chemical’s wide application scope ranges across industries that include automotive, aerospace and pharmaceutical. It is produced during fractionation of refinery gases and by means of catalytic cracking of methyl tert-butyl ether. The global isobutene market is expected to witness a significant growth due to its use in numerous applications ranging from fuel additives and polymers to agriculture industries.
Evonik Industries has tripled the production capacity at their facility in Antwerp, Belgium in view of increasing global demand and establish themselves as a leading producer in Europe. Major companies such as Global BioEnergies have undertaken efforts to introduce sustainable isobutene from renewable resources such as corn biomass to mitigate these isobutene supply issues and also reduce the impact of its production on the environment.
Bio-based alternatives are also overcoming other sustainability issues associated with isobutene and its derivatives in the market. Various governments are also fostering these developments by providing incentives and tax benefits for the production of isobutene from renewable resources.
Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) emerged as the dominant product segment, accounting for 80% of the global volume in 2015. The product finds wide application scope in end-use industries such as automotive and aerospace. The product is refined to manufacture butyl rubber by polymerization of isobutylene and isoprene. Butyl rubber is used extensively in the automotive and pharmaceutical industry.
Although the benefits and advantages of using MTBE are well known, the U.S. has banned the use of this product owing to the identified health hazards caused in regard to the leakage in the atmosphere.
ETBE is primarily a biofuel derived from isobutylene and ethanol. It’s high octane content, low vapor pressure and boiling point makes it a favorable component in petrol blending. This enables refiners to meet octane content and bio-component requirements. It also allows companies to meet environmental standards and adjust to changes in gasoline trade dynamics by using the chemical to upgrade naphtha to petrol or to improve lower octane grades to higher ones.
Elastomers based on isobutylene exhibit properties unique to automotive applications. These properties include minimal permeability in gases and liquids, chemical resistance and superior damping. These elastomers, when halogenated, improvise on their thermal performance as well.
Brominated isobutylene-co-paramethylstyrene exhibits similar properties, but also has inherent ozone resistance. These properties give the material a distinct advantage in automotive applications that include dynamic parts, hoses, and inner liners of tires. Furthermore, its chemical properties have been a major factor in usage as an anti-knocking agent in automotive fuel.
Asia Pacific has one of the largest automotive markets, which is on the road to recovery from the economic recession of 2009 to 2010. These factors have contributed to higher consumer confidence and spending on passenger cars & light vehicles. Increasing per capita disposable income coupled with strong manufacturing sector growth in the region is expected to drive demand in the region.
A significant contribution from Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam is expected to further drive growth in the region. Developing countries in the region are making efforts to develop automobile sector. Governments in these areas are continuously focusing on trade liberalization programs and policy frameworks.
Major companies such Evonik and LyondellBasell N.V. are integrated along the value chain to provide raw materials, as well as supply other products manufactured from isobutene to other end-use industries. Not only do the companies gain an edge over their competitors in terms of raw material availability but are also able to maintain a direct contact with the end-users.
Key manufacturers of isobutene include BASF, Evonik, ExxonMobil, ABI Chemicals, Global Bioenergies, Praxair, Syngip BV, LanzaTech, Honeywell International and LyondellBasell Industries.
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