Polyolefin resins are polymers containing one or more olefinic groups. These are high molecular weight hydrocarbons which include polyethylene, polypropylenes that comprise resins and copolymers. Polyolefin resins have the ability for withstanding exposures to almost all chemicals at most room temperature. They are less expensive and adaptable to different fabrication techniques. Automobile, film & sheet, fibers & tapes in the packaging, medical and construction are some of the key end user industries of polyolefin resins. Polyolefin resins are also used for coating and packaging purposes.
Among thermoplastics groups, polyolefins account for the largest product segment. Polyethylene and polypropylene are the most commonly used polyolefins. Polyolefin resins were invented in the research laboratory of Imperial Chemical Industries in 1931; however the large scale manufacturing did not start until 1950. Shift in the trend to use polyolefins over polyvinyl chloride (PVC) boosted the demand for polyolefin resins. PVC, an important compound used in the automotive and construction industry, is considered harmful for the environment and hazardous to life. Polyolefins have replaced PVC due to their rubber like properties and hence are suitable for high performance industrial applications. The market for polyolefin resins is growing at a steady pace on account of its low cost and its capability of being fabricated by using modern techonologies such as extrusion, blow molding, calendaring and injecting molding. Non-polyolefin resins produced from elastomers can be used as a substitute for polyolefin resins, however reasons such as higher production cost of the former prevents the entry of substitutes in the market.
Polyolefin resin market is witnessing substantial growth on a global scale, owing to its increasing scope of applications coupled with technological advancement. Asia Pacific is the largest market for this compound accounting to the presence of key manufacturers in these regions. Other regions such as Latin America and Middle East account for the next largest market for polyolefin resins.
Automobile industry, the largest end user of this product, is growing rapidly in developing economies such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa which has further fuelled the demand for polyolefins in Asia Pacific and other regions mentioned. China is the largest manufacturer of this compound in the world. However the production of polyolefin resins is increasing in Asian countries such as India, Malaysia and Indonesia. Availability of raw materials at low cost is attracting numerous North American and European based companies to set up polyolefin production site in Asia Pacific. Fluctuating prices of petroleum and oil is driving the Middle Eastern economies to reduce their dependence on petroleum products. The production of polyolefins and other compounds such as automobile coating materials is increasing rapidly; Middle East is expected to emerge as one of the largest exporters of polyolefin resins during the forecast period. North America is the third largest market for polyolefin resins.. North America fulfills most of its polyolefin demand by importing from countries in Asia Pacific. However the shale gas boom in North America has provided the opportunity of availability of cheaper raw materials. This is expected to fuel up the production of polyolefin resins in countries such as U.S. and Canada. The market for polyolefin is considerably low in Europe resulting from the sluggish economic growth. It is predicted that the presence of key market players such as The Dow Chemical Company will fuel up the demand for this compound in Europe by 2020.
Some of the largest manufacturers of polyolefin resins in the global market include China National Petroleum Corporation, Dupont, The Dow Chemical Company, LyondellBasell Industries NV and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation.