Kraton is the trade name given to a number of high performance elastomers manufactured by Kraton Polymers, and used as synthetic replacements for rubber. Kraton polymers offers many of the properties of natural rubber, such as flexibility, high traction, and sealing abilities, but with increased resistance to heat, weathering, and chemicals. It was first made by the chemical division of the Shell Oil Company in the 1950s, under the technical leadership of Murray Luftglass and Norman R. Legge. Shell sold its Kraton polymers business to private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings in March 2001.
Kraton polymers are styrenic block copolymer consisting of polystyrene blocks and rubber blocks. The rubber blocks consist of polybutadiene, polyisoprene or their hydrogenated equivalents. The tri-block with polystyrene blocks at both extremities linked together by a rubber block is the most important polymer structure observed in SBC. If the rubber block consist of polybutadiene, the corresponding triblock structure is: poly usually abbreviated as SBS. Kraton D and their selectively hydrogenated versions Kraton G are the major Kraton polymer structures. The microstructure of SBS consists of domains of polystyrene arranged regularly in a matrix of polybutadiene, as shown in the TEM micrograph. The picture was obtained on a thin film of polymer cast onto mercury from solution, and then stained with osmium tetroxide.