The global demand for styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) was 4,151 kilo tons in 2009 that increased to 4,324 kilo tons in 2010. SBR demand is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.7% from 2012 to 2018. The growth in the SBR market is primarily driven by the increasing demand from the tire manufacturing industry, which is the largest consumer of SBR. Increased automobile sales in major countries of the world have played a key role in increasing the demand for tires. In addition, the tire labeling regulations in countries like Japan, Korea and the European Union have created huge demand for solution SBR (S-SBR). However, volatility in raw material prices, especially butadiene prices, has been a major inhibitor for the market.
The limited supplies of natural rubber coupled with the geographical constraints on its production have created a huge crossover opportunity for SBR. The market in the next six years would face a drastic shift towards production of S-SBR from E-SBR. The demand for S-SBR is expected to outpace the supply in the next three years. Large corporations have already begun work on installing new S-SBR plants, which would help them gain market share in view of the increasing demand.
Styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) or styrene butadiene (SB) is a form of synthetic rubber derived from two monomers i.e. butadiene and styrene. There are nearly 200 varieties of synthetic rubber available, of which SBR is the largest consumed variety, accounting for over 45% of the market. The other majorly consumed synthetic rubbers include polybutadiene rubber (BR), acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (NBR), and ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) among others.
SBR is produced by the polymerization of butadiene with styrene in an approximate ratio of 3:1. The relative proportions of styrene and butadiene influence the properties of SBR with higher styrene content resulting in harder rubbers. In comparison to natural rubber, SBR has better abrasion resistance, lower elasticity, better aging resistance and excellent electrical insulation. The mechanical properties of SBR improve by the addition of substances like carbon black during vulcanization with sulfur. Vulcanization is used to increase the durability of rubber.