Growth in the Refractories Industry
Multiple factors are expected to boost demand in the refractories market.
The total global production of refractories is expected to cross 55 million tons by 2020. The growth of end-user industries and increasing demand for high-performance furnaces have been driving the global market. Key end-user industries for refractories include iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, non-metallic minerals, and non-metallic materials such as glass. However, due to increasing equipment efficiencies, overall consumption of refractories has been declining.
Expansions by iron and steel companies, in terms of new raw material site acquisitions and increasing numbers of processing plants, are generating new demands for the refractories market. Iron and steel is the largest end-user industry for refractories, accounting for about 75% of the total market in 2013. Refractories consumption per ton of processed metal varies across countries. For example, Japan consumes about 10 kg of refractories per ton of steel, while China’s consumption is much higher at 23 kg/ton.
The global glass market is growing at a fast pace due to increasing demand from the construction and corporate sectors. This is expected to provide opportunities for growth in the refractories industry.
Refractories by Type
Refractories are produced in basically two categories in terms of form type: brick and shapes, and monolithic. Brick and shapes comprised the largest refractories segment in 2013 by form type. However, the monolithic segment is expected to grow at a higher rate from 2014-2020.
In terms of materials type, refractories can be classified into clay and nanoclay. Clay is the largest and fastest-growing segment in the refractories market. The refractories industry in the past few years has been engaged in serious research and development activities, including the development of a new generation of refractories termed eco-refractories. These types of refractories will be used in furnaces for alternative energy production, including solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, hydrogen, nuclear and biomass.
Refractories by Region
Asia-Pacific was the largest market for refractories market in 2013, followed by Europe. China was the largest producer and consumer of refractories in Asia-Pacific in 2013. China is also the one of the largest suppliers of refractories raw materials, including refractory bauxite, magnesia, graphite, brown fused alumina and silicon carbide. The high rate of infrastructural development and a growing demand for consumer goods (e.g., automobiles) in the country are increasing the demand for iron and steel, leading to growth in the refractories market.
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