The report categorizes the global isobutene market by application (automotive, aerospace, antioxidants, pharmaceuticals, and others) and product (methyl tert-butyl ether and ethyl tert-butyl ether). The report also determines the geographic breakdown of the market in terms of detailed analysis and impact, which includes key geographies such as APAC, the Americas, and EMEA.
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Market driver: growing demand for rubber from automotive industry
The production of various synthetic chemical products is done using high-purity isobutene or isobutylene. Isobutylene is significantly used in the production of synthetic rubber, butyl rubber, and isobutylene-isoprene rubber (IIR). Copolymerization of isobutylene with small amounts of isoprene yields butyl rubber. In the automotive industry, the demand for butyl rubber in tire manufacturing is growing at a steady rate due to its excellent chemical and mechanical properties such as high vibration damping capabilities and low permeability to air and moisture.
“With a booming automotive industry, tire production has increased exponentially in developing countries like India and China. With the ever-growing need for tires in automotive vehicles by original equipment manufacturers and the aftermarket, the demand for rubber will increase, which, in turn, will drive the isobutene market during the forecast period,” says a senior analyst from Technavio for specialty chemicals research.
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Market trend: increasing R&D and M&A activities
With the increasing consumption of isobutene in various end-user applications, the expenditure on R&D activities, coupled with M&A, has increased significantly. In addition, key players are investing extensively for the expansion of their production capacities. For instance, Evonik Industries, a specialty chemicals company, has expanded its business into manufacturing several C4 products. With its new isobutene facility in Belgium, the company will be able to produce 110,000 tons of isobutene per year, almost tripling its production capacity. The company can become one of the leading suppliers of isobutene in Europe. Similarly, in 2017, Global Bioenergies acquired Syngip, a Dutch-based startup company. This acquisition has helped Global Bioenergies to develop third-generation isobutene using gaseous carbon sources such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.
Market challenge: hazardous effects of isobutene derivatives
Although isobutene derivatives are used in automotive, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, and other sectors, they have been known to have mildly hazardous effects on the environment. With rising concerns about harmful emissions from automobiles, the use of octane boosters or octane enhancers is continuously increasing. MTBE, a derivative product of isobutene, when used as an octane enhancer often goes into the groundwater, resulting in the contamination of drinking water. Due to these toxic effects of MTBE, the US has banned its use as a fuel additive in gasoline. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) checks the MTBE levels regularly in public water systems.
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Some of the major contributors in the global isobutene market:
- Global Bioenergies
- LyondellBasell Industries Holdings
- TPC Group
- YEOCHUN NCC
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