Polymer and Plastics, Rubber and Butyllithium

Rubber and Plastics

Albemarle supplies a broad variety of products for the synthesis of rubber and plastic materials. Our products are used in several applications.

Initiator for Anionic Polymerization

Polyisoprene, polybutadiene and butadiene/styrene copolymers can be manufactures by various processes. The most versatile methodology is the living polymerization or solution-phase polymerization technology employing butyllithium as initiator. The process enables an effective control of the molecular weight, the molecular-weight distribution, the co-monomer ratio, the sequence distribution of butadiene and styrene, the degree of branching and thus the microstructure and properties of the final polymer. Compared to emulsion polymerization, the butyllithium-initiated process can be performed at a higher temperature, which allows the use of less expensive water-cooling systems and results in a good work-up rubber.

Albemarle supplies n- and sec-butyllithium in different solvents and concentrations. Our unique production technology and regional productions sites guarantee the highest quality product for this application.


Ziegler Natta (ZN) catalysts are widely used in the synthesis of α-olefin polymers e.g. polypropylene, polyethylene and polybutadiene. The catalysts consist of a transition metal (Ti or V) and metal-organic groups and are supported for many applications on magnesium based carrier material. Developments in the late 1970s result in the metallocene type catalysts which based on metal cyclopendadienyl complexes. By variation of the cyclopentadienyl ligands the properties of the α-olefin polymer can be controlled, either to isotactic or to syndiotactic polymers.

Both types of catalysts require metal-organic compounds either for the synthesis of the carrier material or the ligands. Albemarle with over 50 years of experience offers various lithium as well as magnesium based products. We supply products like methyllithium, n-, sec-, tert-butyllithium or Grignard compounds in various concentrations and solvents for the synthesis of metallocene-type catalysts. Our solid-free products dibutylmagnesium and n-butylmagnesium chloride are today widely used to manufacture magnesium-carrier material for highly active ZN catalysts.


Albemarle has also developed a new nitrite-free heat-transfer medium that is used for the vulcanization of rubber in salt baths. Its commercial name is Sabalith®.