Compared with polymers produced with conventional catalysts, metallocene and single-site polymers are tougher, more resistant to puncturing and tearing, and clearer and glossier. These polymers are expected to account for 9% of all polyolefin polymers in 2011. Demand for metallocene and single-site polymers is projected to advance nearly 18% pa to 5.2 bln pounds in 2011, valued at US$5.8 bln. Threats to further advances include high metallocene and co-catalyst costs, and the introduction of more competitive Ziegler-Natta catalyst systems.
Metallocene and single-site thermoplastics accounted for 85% of all metallocene and single-site polymer demand in 2006. The remainder consists of elastomers, plastomers and other materials such as cyclic-olefin copolymers. Thermoplastics will remain dominant as leading suppliers boost capacity and introduce new families of materials. Metallocene linear low density polyethylene (mLLDPE) will continue as the major polymer, although more rapid growth is expected for much smaller polypropylene and high density polyethylene plastics. In 2006, the mLLDPE market was larger than all other metallocene polymers combined.
Packaging, the leading market, accounted for 63% of all uses in 2006. Uses include film and sheet, as well as blow molded bottles and injection molded containers. Film and sheet will remain the leading application based on growing use in products such as stretch and shrink film, trash bags, food films and vapor barriers. However, better growth is expected in blow and injection molding polymers due to their excellent structural strength and stress crack resistance, as well as greatly improved processing characteristics. Other markets for metallocene and single-site polymers include fibers and nonwovens - a major emerging market for metallocene PP.
Faster growth, however, is anticipated for consumer good and durable equipment markets, such as appliances, houseware and industrial machinery and equipment. Automotie uses, particularly for metallocene grades of EPDM and thermoplastic elastomers, will be stimulated by a stronger outlook for automotive production.