Published August 2014
This report covers the markets for silicates and silicas. Specifically, it covers the silicates of sodium, calcium, zirconium, potassium and magnesium, along with ethyl silicate. It also covers the specialty silicas of precipitated silica, colloidal silica, silica gel, fumed silica and fused silica.
The following pie charts show world consumption of silicates.
World consumption of sodium silicate is forecast to grow at about 2.5% annually during 2013–2018. China is the leading consumer, accounting for almost 35% of total world consumption, followed by Western Europe, the United States and Other Asia. In addition to a variety of direct uses, sodium silicate is consumed in the downstream production of derivative silicates, silicas and aluminosilicates, including zeolites. These derivatives account for a substantial percentage of total sodium silicate consumption.
World consumption of calcium silicate is forecast to grow at almost 2% annually during 2013–2018. China, where calcium silicate is used in fertilizer applications and in the production of wallboard, is by far the leading consuming region at almost 88% of world consumption. Calcium silicates are amorphous, water-insoluble powders precipitated from sodium silicate solutions, which function as specialty carriers (especially of oils), flow-control agents and fillers.
World consumption of zirconium silicate is forecast to grow at 2.0% annually during 2013–2018. China is the leading consuming region, accounting for almost 95% of total world demand. Zirconium silicate is used in the manufacturing of refractory materials, where resistance to corrosion by alkali materials is necessary. It is also used in ceramics, ceramic glazes and enamels.
World consumption of potassium silicate is forecast to grow at 1.8% annually during 2013–2018. Other Asia is the leading consumer, accounting for 41% of total world consumption, followed by Western Europe at 22% and China at 17.5%. Potassium silicate is used as a binder in welding rods and in several other markets. It is also used as a detergent builder in both consumer and industrial and institutional (I&I) products, and in various water-based coatings for the construction industry. However, future growth potential exists in oil field cementing.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of specialty silicas:
Precipitated silica is the driving force for specialty silicas and is being driven by the “green revolution” to meet environmental and legislative regulations to improve automotive fuel efficiency. It is projected to grow at about 5.5% annually during 2013–2018, but certain segments may see growth of 20% annually. China is the leading consuming region, followed by Other Asia and the United States.
Colloidal silica (silica sol), which has a much smaller particle size and a lower tendency to clump, is being adopted in chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) slurries, a reason for its accelerating growth. It is also growing for consumption in pulp and paper mills as part of a retention/drainage aid system with a polymer. Growth is forecast at 3.5% annually. The leading growth market is in the electronics/semiconductor industry as a polishing agent.
Silica gel grew at an average rate of 3.6% annually during 2005–2010 as a result of silica gel cat litter produced in China and higher-value gels for industrial binders for sensor components, absorption for environmental uses and prevaporation membranes for dehydration of alcohol and other solvents. Use in cosmetics and cat litter has reached maturity in developed markets. Future growth is forecast at almost 3% annually. China is the leading consuming region, followed by Other Asia.
Fumed silica consumption has been growing at 7.0% annually for a number of years and is projected to continue to grow at 7.0% annually during 2013–2018, led by growth in electronic components (related to advances in CMP), the rubber market and new appliances, and a rebound in the production of silicones. Rubber is expected to account for 45% of consumption in 2014. China is one of the leading consuming regions and is projected to see 20% annual growth during 2013–2018.