Lubricants are expected to deliver satisfactory performance at all conditions ranging from low to high temperatures, without undergoing drastic changes in their viscosity during the operation. In order to ensure this, lubricant manufacturers rely on viscosity index improvers to deliver optimal viscosity performance at all operating conditions. Viscosity can be described as inherent resistance of a liquid to flow, while viscosity index represents response of the liquid to changes in temperature (generally, from 40°C to 100°C). If a lubricant exhibits drastic change in viscosity over a range of temperature, the lubricant is said to have low viscosity index.
Viscosity index improvers are polymers that are added to a lubricant in order to resist change in its viscosity with rise in the temperature. With increase in temperature, polymeric molecules of viscosity index improvers tend to stretch out, thereby increasing the internal friction of the fluid to the flow. With increase in internal friction, the fluid flows at a slower pace, thereby exhibiting increase in its viscosity. Viscosity index improvers can vary greatly, depending on their molecular structure and specific chemistry.
- Increasing demand for lubricants and rising automotive sales likely to drive the market
Lubricants have become an essential part of the modern-day industry. Almost any type of operation or machining requires some sort of lubricants in order to enhance the overall efficiency of the operation. Lubricants are products that are used to reduce friction between two surfaces, thereby increasing the operational efficiency and providing wear protection to surfaces, which extends machine runtimes and prevents wear and tear of machine parts. A viscosity index improver is an essential part of every lubricant additive batch, as it helps the lubricant to maintain its viscosity when subjected to high operating temperatures.
Moreover, growth of the automotive sector is also projected to drive the market for viscosity index improvers during the forecast period. The automotive industry is one of the largest consumers of lubricants. This correlates the demand for base oils and lubricant additives with the automotive sector. Thus, increasing demand for automobiles and expanding automotive sector are likely to augment the viscosity index improver market in the near future.