Blowing Agents Market - Snapshot
Expanding applications of blowing agents, besides wide use in the polymeric foam industry is contributing significantly to the growth of blowing agents market. Polyurethane foam, polyolefin foam, polystyrene foam, and phenolic foam are key types of foam that use blowing agents. Rising number of variants of blowing agents, which include spray foams, is another key factor behind growth of blowing agents market. Newer applications of new variants of blowing agents is aiding continued growth of blowing agents market.
Beyond this, novel use of blowing agents in the healthcare sector is likely to open new vistas for the blowing agents market. Approval of the FDA for use of a new foaming agent for healing abdominal trauma among military personnel is an example. Touted as a product for Fast Onset Abdominal Management, it can be injected into the patient’s body. These new blowing agents produce required pressure to stop abdominal bleeding. According to a study released in 2012, over 91% deaths on the battlefield in the last 10 years could have been prevented with advanced foaming technologies.
Wide use of varieties of polyurethane foam for domestic refrigeration is another key factor for the growth of blowing agents market. Polyurethane foams are used during the production process for much-needed insulation for refrigeration.
In the U.S., practices of owning more than one refrigerator for domestic use, thanks to their affordable cost, is indirectly stoking demand for blowing agents. Statistically, in the U.S., the number of refrigerators sold increased from 11.14 million in 2005 to 12.44 million by 2019. Such demand for domestic refrigeration is indirectly aiding growth of blowing agents market.
Expanding number of cold storages for storage of high volumes of fruits and vegetables is indirectly aiding growth of blowing agents market. This is related to exploding food needs for the exploding population in several parts of the world.
Blowing Agents Market: Overview
Blowing agents are widely used as additives in the polymeric foam industry. They are used as a part of the production process mainly to lend certain desired properties to polymeric foam. The importance of blowing agents is steadily rising for companies as the demand for low-cost foam products rises.
Blowing agents play a crucial role by helping to induce a specific cellular structure to the foamed material. This helps reduce the density of the foam, improve its acoustic and thermal insulation abilities, and also improve the relative toughness of the original material. Blowing agents can lend the desired characteristics to a myriad of materials. These characteristics could range from light-weighting, heat insulation, and sound absorbency to elasticity, permeability, electrical insulation and shock absorbency.
One of the most widely used blowing agents were chloro fluoro carbons (CFC’s). However, they were phased out because of their harmful effects on the ozone layer. While developing new products with similar or better functionality than CFC’s, players have to face several challenges such as the impact of the products on the environment and getting suppliers who can supply them with the requisite materials seamlessly among others.
Blowing Agents Market: Growth Enablers
Increasing demand for polymeric foams, especially polyurethane foams, owing to rapid development in their end-user industries such as construction and appliances is driving the demand for blowing agents. Additionally, high growth of end use industries in Asia Pacific is anticipated to further fuel the demand for blowing agents. However, stringent environmental regulations regarding chemicals used as blowing agents might hamper the growth. Development of new environment friendly biobased products for utility as blowing agents might bring future prospective opportunities for market growth.
Blowing Agents Market: Segmentation
The major types of blowing agents that find use in the industry are: Hydrocarbons (HCs), hydro-chloro-fluoro-carbons (HCFCs), and hydro-fluoro-carbons (HFCs). Of these, hydrocarbons currently stand as the dominant product segment. Among hydrocarbons, butanes and pentanes are the most common blowing agents used. HCFCs have been gradually phased out in industrialized nations. In many other developing regions as well, HCFCs are being phased out gradually because of their reported adverse effects such as Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) and Global Warming Potential (GWP). This has in turn led several companies to develop and launch alternative blowing agents that are environment friendly.
Among the key foams that see the utilization of such blowing agents are: Polyurethane foam, polystyrene foam, phenolic foam, and polyolefin foam. The polyurethane foam industry makes use of all types of blowing agents and as a result, holds a major share in the market. Owing to its wide range of applications in chemicals, construction and automotive industries, demand for polyurethane products is rising at a high growth rate, which, eventually, generates demand for blowing agents.
Blowing Agents Market: Region-wise Outlook
Currently, Asia Pacific is estimated to be the largest market for blowing agents worldwide. It is also the fastest growing blowing agents market. The region consumed well over 50% of the blowing agents produced worldwide. It stands as one of the leading consumers of foam insulated products. China is among the top blowing agent consumers in Asia Pacific. Moreover, other Asian countries such as India and South Korea also generate considerable for blowing agents thanks to high industrial production levels. Mature markets in North America and Europe are expected to witness a relatively slower growth in demand for blowing agents. Additionally, these regions are at the forefront of the initiatives taken towards sustainable growth practices to protect the environment.
The market place is dominated by a few global players with major market share. However there are a large number of small and medium sized players, especially in Asia Pacific, competing for the market share with aggressive pricing schemes. Leading manufacturers in the blowing agents market include E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company, Arkema SA, Haltermann GmbH, Foam Supplies Inc, Solvay SA and Honeywell International Ltd.
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