Table of Contents
US demand to rise 5.9% annually through 2019
Demand for specialty silicas in the US is forecast to grow 5.9 percent per annum to $2.1 billion in 2019. Gains are expected to be strong by historical standards, though moderating slightly from the robust post-recession growth of the 2009- 2014 recovery period. Demand will benefit as silicas gain wider appeal through changing market trends, such as increased usage in tires, or by an improvement in certain segments of the economy, particularly the housing and construction industry. Advances will be limited, however, by market maturity in a number of products, including toothpaste and cat litter.
Precipitated silica to offer best growth opportunities
Demand for specific silica products is closely tied to the outlook for key enduse industries. For example, demand for silica gel, which finds application in a variety of paint and coatings, will see its most significant gains on the back of a strong rebound in building and construction spending. As resource conservation trends make their way into the tire industry, silica is finding greater use as a filler and reinforcement agent in tires, offering improved fuel economy over conventional tires.
Precipitated silica will remain the leading segment of the specialty silica market in both volume and value terms. This silica type is expected to be the fastest growing specialty silica product through 2019, promoted by robust gains in the large tire rubber sector as well as coatings and inks. Overall market value will benefit from the ongoing development of more expensive and higher-performance precipitated silicas, such as highly dispersible grades for tire reinforcement.
Rubber market to expand at most rapid annual pace
Among specialty silica markets, the rubber market is forecast to expand at the most rapid pace through 2019, further increasing its position as the major outlet for specialty silicas. Though advances in US rubber consumption will slow as domestic production of motor vehicles and other manufactured goods face weak growth, in the tire rubber segment precipitated silica will find higher usage and increased loadings in low rollingresistance tires. Demand for these tires will be promoted by efforts on the part of vehicle manufacturers to improve fuel efficiency in order to comply with ever more stringent governmental regulations, as well as to satisfy consumer demand for improved gas mileage. The nontire rubber segment is forecast to rise at a moderate pace, compared to its gains in the 2009- 2014 period. Nontire rubber applications for silica include industrial rubber, silicone rubber, footwear soles, and carrying agents.
Cosmetics and toiletries represent the next largest market for specialty silicas in both volume and value terms through the forecast period. Silica will remain a key ingredient in toothpaste formulations, serving as a thickener and/or abrasive polishing and cleaning agent. In other cosmetic and toiletry applications, silica suppliers are introducing products as alternatives to plastic microbeads, which are increasingly coming under environmental scrutiny. Above average gains are also expected for specialty silicas in the coatings and inks market, fueled by a strong acceleration in paint and coatings production.
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