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Rust Inhibitors Carry Golden Prospects

Thursday, April 18, 2013

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Busting rust is a booming enterprise, with the U.S. demand for all types of corrosion inhibitors set to grow by a steady 4.1 percent annually through 2017, a new market forecast projects.

Rebounding construction spending and the oil and gas industry's expansion of horizontal drilling and shale exploration will drive much of the growing demand, with the industry reaching $2.5 billion in 2017, according to "Corrosion Inhibitors to 2017," a new report from Cleveland-based market researcher The Freedonia Group.

Corrosion inhibitors

Corrosion inhibitors are commonly added to coolants, fuels, hydraulic fluids, boiler water, engine oil, and many other fluids used in industry. They can also be used for process equipment cleaning and descaling. The market is growing.

Construction will bring the fastest growth in corrosion-inhibiting additives for concrete, cement, coatings and metal applications, the report said.

Growing Demand

"U.S. demand for corrosion inhibitors is forecast to expand 4.0 percent per year through 2017 on a value basis, supported primarily by an expanding economy, increasing chemical production, and rising oil and natural gas output," Freedonia reports.

Analyzing the $2+ billion U.S. corrosion inhibitors industry, the report presents historical demand data for the years 2002, 2007 and 2012, and forecasts for 2017 and 2022 by application (for example, water treatment, process and product additives), market (for example, petroleum refining, utilities, chemicals, oil and gas production, metals, pulp and paper, cement and concrete) and product (for example, organics, molybdates, nitrites, phosphates, phosphonates, silicates).

Sailor cleaning corrosion
U.S. Navy / Photographer’s Mate Airman Timothy F. Sosa

With the annual cost of corrosion in the U.S. topping three percent of GDP, corrosion prevention remains a top priority for a variety of sectors, including the nation's armed forces.

The study also considers market environment factors; details industry structure; evaluates company market share; and profiles 33 industry competitors, including Nalco, General Electric, and Ashland.

Trending Greener, Cheaper

As with most chemical products, the corrosion inhibitors industry is moving to respond to environmental concerns (in this case, about popular products using nitrites and molybdates) and to pricing issues (in this case, sustained pricing volatility for molybdates).

The industry is investing in the development of new, less costly products with improved performance and better environmental profiles, Freedonia says.

"Organic corrosion inhibitors will be the primary beneficiary of these trends, as they have been the focus of much of the new product development," the report says. "Value growth will also be aided by the introduction of new hybrid products that include additional functions other than corrosion protection."

'High Priority'

Corrosion control will remain a critical need in the United States, but the inhibitors industry will be changing to meet it, the report forecasts.

Corrosion inhibitors graphic
Freedonia Group

Organic inhibitors will likely continue to gain market share.

With government estimates of the annual cost of corrosion exceeding three percent of GDP, corrosion prevention remains a high priority for a number of different sectors in the US economy," the report says.

"However, despite significant need for corrosion protection in many industries, pressures such as environmental concerns, price volatility, and new product developments have influenced the amount, types, and availability of certain types of corrosion inhibitors."

Chemical manufacturing, petroleum refining and other industries that use copious amounts of water that require treatment with corrosion inhibitors are reducing the amount of water used per unit produced, influencing the types and amounts of inhibitors being consumed.

Closed-Loop Benefits

Environmental concerns over process and waste waters have prompted many industries to implement closed-loop cooling systems, benefiting nitrites and other traditional products that function well in such systems.


The growth of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of shale reserves will help drive increased demand for corrosion inhibiitors, the Freedonia Group forecasts.

New hybrid products are also being developed to offer corrosion protection along with other functional qualities, Freedonia reports.

More growth is expected as the power industry transitions from older coal-fired plants toward new natural gas plants that require the use of closed-loop systems. However, non-water-based cooling systems may dampen this demand slightly, the report said.

Higher Prices, Lower Demand

Pricing has also been a major concern over the past decade as costs have soared for molybdates and other inhibitors. Molybdate prices soared between 2002 and 2007, driving down demand for the popular additive, the report said.

While molybdate prices moderated from 2007 to 2012, they remain high compared to other corrosion inhibitors, bringing pressure on manufacturers to develop molybdate-free alternatives—pressure that is expected to continue to curb demand going forward, Freedonia said.


Tagged categories: Concrete; Construction; Construction chemicals; Corrosion inhibitors; Corrosion protection; Fracking; Market forecasts; Oil and Gas

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