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Auto market helping PPS achieve 8 percent annual growth

By: Frank Esposito

April 1, 2013

HOUSTON — The global market for specialty resin polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) is expected to average growth of just over 8 percent through 2016.

That growth rate — projected by Houston-based consulting firm IHS Chemical — "is well above typical commodity GDP growth rates" because of global drivers and material requirements, according to Kyle Mathis, general manager of engineering polymers for plastics and chemicals maker Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LP.

Chevron Phillips — based in The Woodlands, Texas — makes Ryton PPS and Xtel PPS alloys and ranks as the global leader in the PPS market. The firm produces PPS at a plant in Borger, Texas, and compounds the material at plants in Laporte, Texas, and in Belgium.

Mathis spoke at the IHS World Petrochemical Conference, March 20-21 in Houston. He said PPS as a material has benefited from its heat resistance, dimensional stability and weldability. Those properties have allowed PPS to find a home in numerous markets including automotive, electrical/electronic and water management and filtration.

In automotive, Mathis said PPS can meet standards for weight reduction and coolant resistance, and has a cost advantage vs. metal for water pumps, thermostat housings and other applications.

PPS "is one of the highest performing resins," Mathis said. "A lot of our compounds are developed for specialty applications." The global PPS market is expected to total more than 260 million pounds by 2016, according to IHS Chemical.

In the materials marlet, PPS competes with such materials as specialty nylon, sulfones, liquid crystal polymers and polyetheretherketone (PEEK), but Mathis said it's "harder to find competitive material in specialized applications" because of the need for more extensive testing.