Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber had first found wide commercial use in the roofing industry in North America and Europe in the early 1970s. Then onwards EPDM has found major applications in the automotive, building and construction, wires and cables, plastic modification, lubricant additives and in other such industries. EPDM consists of ethylene (usually 45% to 75% by weight, depending on the application), propylene and a diene (generally between 2.5% and 12%). The main properties of EPDM rubber are its high heat and ozone resistance and exceptional weatherability characteristics. It also has good resistance to polar substances and steam. The material also exhibits excellent electrical insulation properties. EPDM finds major uses in manufacture of seals, washers, belts, hoses, pipes, wires, cables, roofing membranes, electrical cable-jointing as well as plastic modification in the manufacture of thermoplastic vulcanisates (TPV) and thermoplastic olefins (TPO).
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Some of the major factors driving the EPDM market are the increasing demand in the Asia-Pacific region, the continuous growth in the automobile industry where EPDM finds uses in most automobile interiors and parts, boom in roofing and construction in developing countries, and high resistance to prolonged exposure in harsh climates. EPDM is one of the raw materials used in the manufacturing of its substitutes TPO and TPV and the increase in demand for these materials is boosting the overall demand for EPDM.
The most important challenge for EPDM as a market is the irregularity of regulations governing production and usage in different regions in the world and mainly in North America where until recently the roofing and construction industry depended heavily on EPDM and asphalt. This resulted in a slow shift of focus onto TPO and TPV along with bitumen in the North American roofing sector. With increasing environmental concerns, many EPDM manufacturers are trying their best to manufacture EPDM using materials that will reduce their effect on the environment. Most notable of these are the innovations by LANXESS AG.
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