Blowing agents are light in weight, heat insulation, and electrical induction chemical substances that are used to generate the gas that is used in expanding of plastics, rubber, and ceramics to create foam. The global blowing agents are expected to witness substantial growth owing to increasing demand from end-use industries such as construction, packaging, and automotive. The product is primarily used in the aforementioned end-use industries as adhesives, exhibiting superior properties including improved acoustics, heat & electric insulation, elasticity, and lightweight.

Rising infrastructure development in Asia Pacific is expected to increase market penetration

Blowing agents are widely used across a number of application in the construction industry including acoustics, heat & electric insulation, and shock absorbers. Furthermore, rising infrastructure development in Asia Pacific coupled with supportive government initiatives, in emerging economies such as India, is fueling growth of the market. For instance, in 2016, the Indian government announced plans to invest US$ 376.53 billion to improve the infrastructure, roads, transport facility, and shipping over of the following three years. Encouraging foreign direct investment (FDI) in the region is likely to propel the construction industry in the region, which in turn is expected to increase demand for blowing agents in the near future.

Robust automobile industry growth is expected to aid market growth over the forecast period

Demand for blowing agent products by the automobile industry, is rapidly rising due to the weight reduction property of the agents that are useful for acoustic application. As the demand for products of the automobile industry is increasing, the demand for light is a major factor fueling market growth. The global automobile industry produced over 90 million cars and commercial vehicles in 2015, which is expected to increase significantly over the following five years owing to strong indicators in Asia Pacific. These trends coupled with rising efforts to improve fuel efficiency by reducing the overall weight of automobiles, is expected to have a positive impact on growth.

Stringent regulations promoting the use of eco-friendly blowing agents

The market is segmented on the basis of product type into hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), and hydrocarbons. Hydrofluorocarbons accounted for the largest share in the market, owing to its low ozone depletion potential. Furthermore, stringent regulations barring the use of HCFC, in 2003 EPA issued baseline for production and import of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b. Moreover, the UK government made it mandatory to recover and recycle the HCFC used in the refrigeration unit. Owing to its contribution towards ozone depletion coupled with a potential phase out in the near future, HCFC is expected to have a positive impact on eco-friendly blowing agents over the forecast period. However, phasing out of HCFC results in high technology shifting costs, which is expected to restrain market growth to a certain extent.

Due to low operating cost and global warming potential, the hydrocarbons segment is expected to witness substantial growth over the forecast period. Thus increasing its use in various end-use industries. However, abrupt changes in climate, global warming, and ozone depletion are the primary environmental issue, so the global agreement such as Montreal and Kyoto protocol which limits severely in the use of blowing agents.

Polyurethane foams dominate the market owing to its superior insulating and shock absorbing properties

The market is segmented on the basis of foam type into polyurethane, polystyrene, phenolic, and polyolefin. Polyurethane segment hold a dominant position in the market, owing to its wide application scope in an array of industries such as automotive industry for manufacturing seats, insulation, gaskets, seal, and bushing. Moreover, it is used in flooring in the construction industry and also to seal boat hulls from water in the marine industry. This is mainly attributed to its superior insulating and shock absorbent properties.

Rapid growth of the economy and population in the Asia Pacific region, has led to an increase in urbanization and industrialization. The polyurethane foam is expected to witness substantial demand in this region, due to a rise in the application scope in automobile and construction industries. Furthermore, core application industries growing at a substantial pace particularly in India, Indonesia, and Vietnam is expected to drive growth over the forecast period. In addition, increasing foreign direct investment in the region primarily due to high market potential, as well as low labor and land cost is likely to propel growth of the blowing agents market, over the next few years.

The blowing agents market is expected to exhibit below average growth in North America and Europe, owing to mature end-use industries in these regions. Furthermore, stringent regulations by EPA in 2003, and by UK to limit the use, recovery, and reuse of HCFC. Governing the use of blowing agents is expected further expected to hamper growth over the following few years. However, gradual recovery of the construction industry—one of the key end-use industries for blowing agents—in both the regions, is expected to have a positive impact on market growth.

Honeywell, Solvay, Arkema are key industry players in the blowing agents market. Continuous research and development, technological advancement, and marketing strategies help in attaining the highest market share in the global blowing agents market. Solstice Liquid Blowing Agent, the latest product developed by Honeywell, is the least harmful to the environment and possesses immense potential to replace HC, HFC, and HCFC, in the future. Blowing agents industry is a consolidated market place with a large number of small manufacturers present in the industry. This trend is primarily witnessed in Asia Pacific, which is one of the major producers of blowing agents. Furthermore, the industry comprises of leading players with global presence including DuPont, Arkema S.A., Honeywell International Inc., Solvay S.A., Foam Supplies, Inc., AkzoNobel NV, Haltermann GmbH, Linde AG, Americhem, and HARP International Ltd.

Key Developments

Increasing research and development related to blowing agents is expected to boost the market growth. For instance, in October 2018, researchers from Budapest University of Technology and Economics presents the applicability of different types of chemical blowing agents in the case of poly(lactic acid) (PLA). The team demonstrated that PLA can be successfully foamed with the use of chemical blowing agents.

Key players in the market are focused on upgrading production technologies to strengthen their product lines. For instance, in May 2019, LANXESS, a producer of low-dust organic chemical blowing agent for the production of polymer foam, entered into collaboration with Citrine Informatics, a U.S.-based AI company specializing in data-driven materials development, to deploy AI in product development.    

However, increasing CFC emissions is expected to hinder the market growth. For instance, a study published in the journal Nature in May 2019, ‘Increase in CFC-11 Emissions from Eastern China Based on Atmospheric Observations,’ found that the provinces of Shandong and Hebei on the northeastern coast of China are a source to 7,000 metric tons per year of CFC-11 (trichlorofluoromethane) emissions.

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