Rising demand for coatings, chemicals and manufacturing worldwide will drive market growth for specialty silicas by 6.3% annually, to 2.7 million metric tons in 2014, new research forecasts.
Gains in precipitated silica, fumed silica, silica gel, silica sol, and related materials will be driven by growing strength in such key silica markets as tires, rubber, chemicals, and agricultural products, according World Specialty Silicas, a new study from The Freedonia Group Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market-research firm.
Silica sol is expected to continue to see favorable opportunities in paper coatings, while also increasing its share of the semiconductor polishing market, according to the report. Silicas will also see strong gains in demand in the chemicals market, as more of these products employ silica additives to improve their processability and performance.
But precipitated silica, which accounted for 70% of world specialty silica demand in 2009, will remain the dominant product type through the forecast period. Precipitated silica will also be the fastest-growing silica product, driven by a strong rebound in the rubber market and increasing use in tires as a partial replacement for carbon black. Fumed-silica gains will be fueled by a rebound in the production of silicone rubber, which accounts for a large portion of demand.
Rubber is the largest market for specialty silicas and will account for 45% of total demand in 2014, the report projects. Bolstering demand will be increasing penetration of “green” tires, which use precipitated silica to lower rolling resistance and improve motor-vehicle fuel economy.
Specialty silica demand in the Asia/Pacific region will advance at the fastest pace through 2014, rising nearly 9% per year and comprising half of the total world demand. Gains will be fueled by continued double-digit demand growth in China, the world’s largest single silica market.
Demand in North America and Western Europe will improve from the sluggish gains of 2004-09 but will still lag the world average. Silica demand in all other regional markets will post gains moderately higher than the world average, but from a small 2009 base.