Metallocenes: What Will They Replace?
Metallocene resin/elastomer applications will grow at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 7.3%.
The leading metallocene application, packaging films, will grow from 710 million lbs. in 2002 to 973 Million lbs in 2007.
The aggregate total of metallocene resins/elastomers is about 1.5 billion pounds.
The metallocene resin/elastomer industry is characterized by complex, overlapping licensing arrangements.
STUDY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The objective of this study is to provide a realistic analysis of metallocene-catalyzed resins, which have expanded from polyethylenes to polyolefin plastomers and elastomers, polypropylenes, EPDMs, polystyrenes, ethylene-styrene copolymers, cyclic olefin copolymers and others for the North American market.
REASON FOR DOING THE STUDY
Earlier reports from the last five to ten years have usually been far too optimistic in terms of projected volumes of products. An objective appraisal of these polymers is needed to properly position these materials in the marketplace.
The onset of metallocene polymers has brought forth the concept of single-site catalysis of which metallocenes are just one example, albeit the first commercial success. Furthermore, more traditional polyolefins, most notably LLDPE, which compete with metallocenes, have been made with upgraded conventional Ziegler-Natta catalysis.
Many analysts now group these catalyst advances into one-category by naming them metallocene/single-site (m/SS), which makes it more difficult to differentiate these two types of products. To further intensify the competitive scenario, standard Ziegler-Natta LLDPEs continue to effectively compete with m/SS variants.
Major questions to be answered are: Which end-use markets and what materials will be replaced by metallocene polymers, and to what extent?
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This report will cover the metallocene-catalyzed versions of the following resins/elastomers: LLDPE, HDPE, VLDPE, polypropylene, polystyrene and EPDM, along with recently introduced variants known as polyolefin plastomers (POPs) and polyolefin elastomers (POEs). Recently introduced ethylene-styrene copolymers and cyclic olefin copolymers, which are both based on metallocene technology, will also be described.
The competitive scenario in which these resins and elastomers will do battle with traditional LLDPE, HDPE, VLDPE, EVA, ionomers, and other resins/elastomers will also be analyzed, along with the backdrop of a wide array of applications led by nonfood and food packaging flexible films, stretch/shrink films, nonpackaging films, and many other uses in markets such as rigid packaging, medical, automotive, wire/cable, hose/tubing, polymer modification and a miscellaneous category comprising foams, sporting goods, toys, footwear, continuous filament, nonwoven fibers, etc.
Competitive markets relate to possible metallocene resin/elastomer replacement and do not refer to entire end-use applications for a given resin or elastomer.
Technologies, mergers and acquisitions, licensing, FDA status, legal issues, industry structure, recycling and pricing are other critical topics that will be included. When discussing recent historical developments, original company names will be used due to the increase in recent mergers. Thus Exxon Chemical and Mobil Polymers rather than ExxonMobil; Union Carbide instead of Dow; Phillips Chemical and Chevron in place of Chevron Phillips; and Montell instead of Basell Polyolefins.
In another context, the producers in this continually make announcements about new construction of new plants or capacity increases at existing plants. In almost all cases, these plans are delayed or even permanently shelved so that, at the time of the writing of this report, some of these plans are "up in the air," so to speak.
Mel Schlechter has over 30 years in the chemical industry, and specializes in plastics market research. He has been with BCC for over 10 years. B.S., Chemistry; M.S., Organic Chemistry; M.B.A., Marketing.
A comprehensive review was undertaken of literature relating to single-site-derived polymer, its technology, applications, markets, company involvement and new developments. Unresolved issues were clarified by contact with those involved in the industry.
In addition to the list of acronyms shown below, densities are indicated without the usual units of cc/min (cubic centimeters per minute), which are assumed. For example, a density of 0.94 will be written as "0.94" and not "0.94 cc/min" for easier reading.
ABS –acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene terpolymer
ASA – acrylonitrile-styrene-acrylate elastomer
ASTM – American Society for Testing and Materials
BMC – bulk molding compound
BOPP – biaxially oriented polypropylene
CAP – controlled atmospheric packaging
COC – cyclic olefin copolymer
DEHP – diethylhexyl phthalate
EPDM – ethylene propylene diene monomer
EPR – ethylene propylene rubber
ESCR – environmental stress crack resistance
EVA – ethylene vinyl acetate
EVOH – ethylene vinyl alcohol
HAO – higher alpha olefin
HDPE – high-density polyethylene
HMW – high molecular weight
LLDPE – linear low-density polyethylene
LDPE – low-density polyethylene
m- LLDPE, HDPE, etc. – metallocene variants
MAP – modified atmospheric packaging
MI – melt index
MDPE – medium density polyethylene
MLS – multilayer structure
MVTR – moisture vapor transmission rate
MW – molecular weight
MWD – molecular weight distribution
OPP – oriented polypropylene
PBT – polybutylene terephthalate
PC/ABS – polycarbonate/ABS alloy/blend
PC/PBT – polycarbonate/PBT blend
PE - polyethylene
PET – polyethylene terephthalate
POE – polyolefin elastomer
POP – polyolefin plastomer
PP - polypropylene
PPO – polyphenylene oxide
PPS – polyphenylene sulfide
PUR - polyurethane
PVC – polyvinyl chloride
PVDC – polyvinylidene chloride
SBC – styrene block copolymer
SBR – styrene butadiene rubber
SEBR – styrene-ethylene-butadiene rubber
SMA – styrene maleic anhydride
SMC – sheet molding compound
SS – single-site
TPE – thermoplastic elastomer
TPO – thermoplastic olefin
TPU – thermoplastic urethane
UHMWPE – ultra high molecular weight PE
ULDPE – ultra low density PE
VLDPE- very low density PE
ZN – Ziegler-Natta