Polypropylene catalyst used in the conversion of propylene into polypropylene through the polymerization reaction is termed as polypropylene catalyst. Different types of polypropylene catalysts are Ziegler–Natta catalyst, metallocene catalyst, and others. A Ziegler–Natta catalyst is a multi-sited catalyst comprising a transition metal and an organometallic co-catalyst. Metallocene catalysts are single-sited catalysts with a transition metal such as titanium (Ti) or zirconium (Zr) located between two cyclic organic compounds. Based on process, the polypropylene catalyst market can be classified into gas phase, bulk phase, and others. The gas-phase process occurs in a fluidized bed reactor and it does not require removal of polypropylene catalyst after the reaction. In the gas-phase process, the polymerization reaction occurs between the catalyst and the polymer matrix. The bulk-phase process takes place preferably in a loop reactor, wherein polypropylene is produced in a bulk. The polymerization medium in the bulk-phase process consists of monomers only and it does not include any solvent or includes a very low amount of solvent. Polypropylene catalyst is used in the production of polypropylene films, fibers, tubes, injection-molded products, etc. Asia Pacific is anticipated to offer significant growth potential to the polypropylene catalyst market in the near future.
Polypropylene catalyst is required to support the production of polypropylene. Hence, the increasing production of polypropylene is a major driver for the polypropylene catalyst market. Globally, the demand for polypropylene is increasing due to rise in the demand for lightweight polypropylene-based materials in different industries. This has resulted in new investments in the polypropylene production globally. Recent major deals include ExxonMobil’s announcement in March 2018 about its plans to expand polypropylene production facilities along the U.S. Gulf Coast to cater to the demand for high-performance, lightweight, durable plastics in automotive, appliances, and packaging industries. In December 2017, Inter Pipeline Ltd. announced approval of its management for construction of Heartland Petrochemical Complex consisting of an integrated propane dehydrogenation (PDH) and polypropylene (PP) plant in Strathcona County, Alberta, Canada. In September 2017, SABIC inaugurated its pilot plant for the development of next-generation polypropylene in Sittard-Geleen, the Netherlands.
The cost of polypropylene catalysts has not been consistent for the last few years, due to new developments taking place in this field. Metallocene and non-phthalate polypropylene catalysts are the most expensive among all polypropylene catalysts. Average prices of metallocene and non-phthalate polypropylene catalysts are two times more than those of Ziegler–Natta catalyst. The series of developments observed in the polypropylene catalyst market is very interesting from the research perspective; however, from the cost perspective, these developments have made it difficult for commercial producers of polypropylene to change their catalyst. Though polypropylene producers are not required to make changes in their automation, machines need to be cleaned and reconfigured every time when a new type of catalyst comes in picture.
This may take several days. The new catalyst has to be tested by the polypropylene producer for cost calculation and needs to be checked for properties defined by the consumer for the specific polypropylene required.