Kline estimates that the total polyisobutylene (PIB) capacity in 2018 is around 1,100–1,200 kilotonnes. Global PIB supply is expected to grow gradually over the forecast period between 2018 and 2028, according to Kline’s just-published Business Outlook for Polyisobutylenes: Global Market Analysis and Opportunities report. Only a handful of suppliers are catering to the PIB market with around 75% of the global PIB capacity accounted for by the top five suppliers—BASF, Daelim, TPC, Lubrizol, and Infineum. To take a closer look at the key findings from the study, REGISTER for our upcoming webinar.
Since lubricant additives and fuel additives are a big application area for PIBs, three of the top four additives-producing companies have in-house PIB supply. Despite this, the top three companies (including their joint-venture plants), accounting for around half of the global PIB capacity in 2018, are all merchant market sellers with little in-house demand for PIB.
In line with the growing demand, some producers, such as Lubrizol and JXTG, are implementing plans to set up additional capacities of PIB. While Lubrizol’s new capacity will focus on producing high reactive (HR) PIBs, JXTG’s expanded capacity will focus on conventional PIBs. The size of the former’s capacity is significantly large while that of the latter’s is small. Therefore, the supply of HR PIBs is expected to grow at a much faster rate than conventional PIBs.
Globally, HR PIB-producing plants have better operational health than conventional PIB, with exceptions. “HR PIBs’ better operating rate is due to their growing demand in dispersants applications for automotive engine oils conforming to newer engine oil specifications like International Lubricants Standardization and Approval Committee’s (ILSAC) GF-5 where use of HR PIBs is preferred against conventional PIBs,” comments Anuj Kumar, the project’s manager.
Global PIB demand is primarily centered in the markets/regions that have large additive manufacturing capacity as lubricant additive is the major application for PIBs. North America is the largest consuming region, accounting for 35%-40% of the global PIB demand in 2018. The U.S. Gulf Coast region has a particularly strong additive manufacturing base, which results in a strong demand for PIB. Other key demand centers for PIB include Western Europe (with key additive manufacturing sites in France and Italy) and Asia-Pacific (with key additive manufacturing sites in Singapore and China). Consequently, the supply of PIB is centered around these key demand centers.
HR PIB has a very strong demand base in lubricant and fuel additives. HR PIB is preferred for additive production due to its high reactive nature as compared to conventional PIB. Mining explosives, where HR PIBs are preferred to make polyisobutylene succinic anhydride (PIBSA) for making emulsion explosives, is another key application area for HR PIB.
Lubricant additive manufacturing is the key end-use application for conventional PIBs as well, though its share in overall conventional PIB demand is much lower than that for HR PIB. Other applications, including fuel additives, lubricant basestocks, stretch films, sealants and adhesives, and cosmetics, are also key contributors to conventional PIB demand.
“Conventional PIBs can be used as a substitute for brightstocks, which are witnessing declining supplies worldwide,” says Kumar. “To achieve the exact viscosity for specific automotive and industrial lubricants, a thickening agent is needed. Traditionally, brightstock has been used as a thickening agent. With declining supplies of brightstocks, PIB is being evaluated as one of the possible substitutes to brightstock.”
Business Outlook for Polyisobutylenes: Global Market Analysis and Opportunities provides a detailed analysis on the application of conventional and HR PIBs, as well as of the supply and demand scenario of low, mid, and high MW PIBs with 10-year forecasts on a global basis. The report also analyzes the top end-use segments in various regions and helps identify the opportunities and challenges within each of these segments.
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