World demand to rise ne 5% annually through 2018
Demand for catalysts will grow nearly five percent per annum through 2018 to more than $20 billion. Growth will be led primarily by a rebound in the chemical and polymer industries, most notably in developed economies hit hard by the great recession. The fastest advances, however, will be seen in the developing world where increasing income levels and vehicle ownership rates, plus rapid industrialization, will encourage capacity expansion. Across the board a more stringent regulatory environment will support a shift in the catalyst product mix toward higher-value catalyst products that are highly efficient, facilitate product differentiation, and provide flexibility to manufacturers. However, despite tightening fuel sulfur regulations in large developing markets such as China and India, growth in refining catalyst demand will be restrained as global efforts to improve vehicle fuel efficiency lead to weak refined product consumption.
Feedstock shifts to benefit chemical synthesis catalysts
Regional shifts in feedstock slates will lift demand for generally higher-value chemical synthesis catalysts. In China, abundant coal resources and a focus on coal-to-olefins technology will support demand for synthesis gas. The shale gas boom and low natural gas prices in North America will fuel a similar shift in that region. Additionally, demand for synthesis gas catalysts, especially those utilized in the production of hydrogen, will be fueled by growing hydrogen demand in the petroleum refining industry where hydrogen plays a key role in reducing sulfur content in fuel, and helping manufacturers produce more valuable petroleum products. An increased focus on product sustainability, regulatory efforts to reduce chemical waste, and the continued development of structurally complex active pharmaceutical ingredients will also drive a shift toward highervalue products such as biocatalysts in the chemical synthesis catalyst market.
Polymer production to drive polymerization catalysts
Polymerization catalyst demand will rise at a healthy pace in response to accelerating global polymer production. However, the commodity nature of many polymers and varying raw material costs will encourage a focus on product differentiation that will stimulate a shift in the polymer catalyst product mix, especially in more developed regions. Demand for polymer catalysts will be strong in Asia and the Middle East where low-cost, commodity polymer capacity will continue to expand. In North America and Western Europe, polymer production growth will be more modest, but producers in those regions will look to manufacture more specialized products to remain competitive on a global scale, resulting in increased demand for Ziegler-Natta and single-site catalysts.
Air pollution rules to impact petroleum refining catalysts
Tightening environmental regulations will have a profound impact on the petroleum refining catalyst market. Efforts by developing countries such as China, India, and Russia to battle air pollution by reducing fuel sulfur levels will continue to stimulate demand for hydrotreating catalysts. However, the increased availability of tight oil crudes that are lower in sulfur may restrain growth in hydrotreating catalysts in more developed markets. Opportunities will exist, though, for catalysts that allow refiners flexibility in responding to the changing crude oil supply.