Published August 2018
Sulfone polymers are high-performance thermoplastics that have –SO2– or sulfone moiety linkages. They are high-heat amorphous thermoplastics that offer more toughness, strength, and hydrolytic stability than other transparent plastics. Moreover, they can withstand prolonged exposure to water, chemicals, and temperatures, handling a broad range of temperatures from -40°C to 204°C. Sulfone polymers’ favorable combustion characteristics—inherent flame retardance, low smoke emission, and chemical resistance—have also been recognized as beneficial in meeting stringent safety requirements. Sulfone polymers also have relatively high melt viscosities under processing conditions that cause parts to be molded with the same physical properties. Three types of sulfone polymers are commercially available; they are commonly known as polysulfone (PSU), polyethersulfone (PESU), and polyphenylsulfone (PPSU).
The following pie chart shows world consumption of sulfone polymers:
In 2017, the United States was the dominant producer of sulfone polymers, followed by Germany, South Korea, China, and Japan. World consumption of sulfone polymers is expected to continue to increase during 2017–22.
End-use sectors for sulfone polymers are led by medical and transportation uses, followed by household/food use, electrical/electronic, and industrial/other.
Forces that will continue to drive sulfone polymer consumption include, but are not limited to:
- A continued and increased penetration of sulfone polymers in aircraft, automobiles, and medical applications
- Continued fuel-efficiency (lightweighting) and CO2 emission standards
- More food and consumer items that require higher temperature limits
- The continued use of sulfone polymers in membrane applications
- The continued miniaturization in electronics, which calls for higher temperature requirements
- Aging human population and the increasing desire for a healthy lifestyle, where the healthcare sector will increase and show above-average growth rates