Global Silicon Metal Market - Segmented by Product Type, Application and Geography - Growth, Trends and Forecasts (2018 - 2023)
The global silicon metal market is estimated to register a CAGR of 4.5% during the forecast period. Asia-Pacific is expected to hold the largest share of the market owing to the growing construction and electronics industry in the region.
Increasing Demand for Aluminum Silicon Alloy
Over the recent years, there has been an increasing demand for silicon from the aluminum industry, as an alloying agent. The ability of silicon to increase the strength and fluidity of aluminum materials, when added as an alloy, is driving the demand for silicon metal from the aluminum industry.
With the increased usage of aluminum in structural engineering, aircraft manufacturing, and the automotive industry, there has been augmented demand for silicon metal to manufacture aluminum alloys that are lighter and resistant to corrosion. Silicon was found to increase an alloy’s wear resistance, which has made aluminum-silicon alloy castings attractive substitutes for gray iron in automotive applications. Moreover, silicon with its low cost and ease of extraction has become a good option for casting alloy for aluminum. Hence, with the growing emphasis on lightweight and stronger components across various industries, the ability of aluminum-silicon alloys to provide these characteristics at affordable prices is expected to drive the demand for the silicon market over the forecast period.
Aluminum Alloys Account for the Largest Share
Silicon increases the creep resistance of aluminum much less than most other alloying elements. Hence, it is used in aluminum manufacturing. The ability of silicon to lower the alloy’s density when alloyed in aluminum has made it a favorite of the automotive industry. Pistons, engine blocks, and transmission components made from hypereutectic Al-Si alloys are of much lower weight than the conventional ones, thereby reducing the overall fuel consumption of the automotive. Also, silicon was found to improve the wear resistance of these components, further enhancing the shelf life of the automotive components.
Asia-Pacific to Dominate the Market
China is the world’s largest producer of silicon. In 2016, around 4.6 million metric ton of silicon was produced in China, which accounted for about two-thirds of the global production, of about 7.2 million metric ton. According to the silicon branch of China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association (CNIA), China wants to reposition its domestic silicon metal sector as a strategic source of raw material for the nation because of the persistent overseas anti-dumping policies imposed against the import of silicon from China.
The Chinese silicon metal sector has been high energy and resource consuming and polluting industry. Although some regional governments have preferential policies for their local silicon players to lift their competitiveness, owing to the expected limited room for a further fall in rigid costs, domestic silicon prices are likely to be stable in the future. However, an anticipated slowdown in demand for silicon from downstream Chinese aluminum alloy and organic silicon sectors, in the next few years, is likely to grow the Chinese silicon metal market moderately over the forecast period.
Notable Developments in the Market
November 2017: Ferroglobe acquired Glencore European manganese plants in France and Norway doubling its global manganese alloy capacity.
Major players are Ferroglobe PLC, The Quartz Corporation, Elkem, and Rusal, amongst others.
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