Fluoroelastomers are a type of synthetic rubber which offers extraordinary resistance to chemicals, oil and heat, along with an expected service life above 200°C. This material possesses a high ratio of fluorine to hydrogen, outstanding heat stability due to absence of saturation, and exceptional oil resistance compared to other rubbers. Fluoroelastomers are categorised based on their properties and are divided into three broader categories FKM, FFKM & FEPM. FKM accounts for (80 %+) of the all fluoroelastomer and shows finest balance of all properties, with high heat resistance, improved low temperature performance and base resistance. The second type of fluoroelastomers are FFKM category, which have extraordinary fluid resistance, and high temperature resistance. The third category is FEPM which is used in aerospace applications.
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Fluoroelastomers are widely used in automobile sector due to their incomparable resistance to heat, and sealing and mechanical properties. In case of short working periods fluoroelastomers can work at very high temperatures, but for a longer duration, its working range is –26°C to 205-230°C (except a few which can work at a temperature of 3270 C). Industries like automobiles and aerospace require specialised products like hoses and gaskets where fluoroelastomers are used. They are also used in fiber optic cables as jacketing materials. The oil and gas industry uses fluoroelastomers as sealing and contaminant solutions for extreme climates.
The global fluoroelastomers market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4%- 5% through 2020. Asia Pacific is expected to be emerge as the largest consumers of fluoroelastomers in the near future due to rapid technological advancements and increasing application industries. Major market players are focusing on the Asia Pacific region to increase their market share and profitability.
Key players in global fluoroelastomers market include 3M company, DuPont, Daikin Industries, Honeywell International Inc., Asahi Glass company Ltd., etc. Top players in the market are investing in research and development activities as application of fluoroelastomers is becoming widespread due to its performance advantage.
The choice of fluoroelastomers depends upon the chemicals and climate conditions that the end use product is going to withstand. The use of fluoroelastometers as a sealant in automotive industry is expected to improve radically during the years to come.
Due to stringent regulations for fuel emission, fluoroelastomers are widely used in fuel system applications as they act as a barrier against evaporative emissions and as a chemical resistance against diverse fuels. They also last longer than other materials. Fluoroelastomers are also gaining importance in pharmaceutical and food processing industries as they provide long term protection against high temperature and fight against corrosion. Both, the pharmaceutical and food processing sectors, are expected to register strong growth rate over next five years. This will create additional demand for fluoroelastomers in the APAC region.
In addition, use of fluoroelastomers in medical, automotive, and electrical industries also substantiates the higher demand for fluoroelastomers in emerging Asia, especially China and India. With growth in allied industries, the fluoroelastomers market in APAC is anticipated to witness huge investment from industry stakeholders.
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Low volume fluoroelastometers like PVDF and FEP have shown high penetration in industries like construction where they are used in coating applications. Due to their low cost of production, the manufacturers are now eyeing China as a production base for PTFE type of fluoroelastomers. Tapping the Chinese market can be challenging in future due to its rapidly changing governmental policies and inclination towards environmental concerns.