According to Global Market Insights, Inc., forecast, global refractories market size is expected to exceed US$41 billion by 2025. Refractories are materials that work under extreme temperatures without changing their shape and chemical properties. These materials are ideal for applications that require high-temperature resilience, such as furnace lining and others. The efficiency and production capacity in the cement industry are predominantly dependent upon the performance of refractories. Nearly 15% of the global refractories production are used in cement industry.
Extensive investment towards infrastructure development such as airports, roads, ports, and energy & power can be seen especially in Asian countries. For example, owing to the presence of numerous infrastructural development projects, Thailand is expected to witness a significant amount of construction expenditure among ASEAN countries, which is likely to be around US$58.5 billion by 2025.
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Mentioned below are some factors driving the demand for refractories across different industries.
Ceramic fiber based refractories to gain traction
Refractories industry based on the form is categorized into brick & shapes, monolithic, and others such as ceramic fibers and raw materials. The raw materials and ceramic fibers segment is predicted to witness a CAGR of 3% up to 2025. Thermal shock resistance, high-temperature stability, and lighter weight are some key properties of ceramic fibers that make it a suitable raw material for the manufacture of refractories ‘inhouse’.
Robust demand for nonclay-based refractories
With respect to composition, the industry can be classified as clay-based and non-clay refractories. The non-clay refractories industry share is anticipated to witness over 4% through 2025. Nonclay refractories are manufactured as bricks and pressed shapes. Whereas, magnesite-chrome and alumina materials are fused into molds. Carbonates and oxides of metal including magnesium, zirconium, and aluminum are the prime raw materials used to produce nonclay refractories products.
Preference for handmade and non-ferrous refractories
The refractories industry as per the manufacturing process is bifurcated into formed, unformed, hand-molded, fused cast, and dry press process. The hand molded refractories segment generated revenue worth over US$1.5 billion in 2018. Even though these handmade refractories products provide a cost-effective manufacturing option, they substantially lack in rendering smooth surfaces as compared with machine-made refractories products, which could limit their adoption to some extent.
As per the end-user, the refractories industry is segmented into iron & steel, non-metallic, non-ferrous metals, and others. The non-ferrous metals segment is predicted to grow at over 3.9% up to 2025. A large amount of refractory materials is required for the manufacture of non-ferrous metals such as copper and aluminum.
Booming non-metallic industry in Europe
Europe refractories industry is slated to grow significantly at over 2.5% through 2025. Such growth trend is majorly attributed to the flourishing non-metallic industry in the region. Moreover, the demand for lime, cement, and glass from numerous end-users such as solar panels, aerospace, and automotive is expected to complement the regional industry share in the global market.
Prominent companies functioning in the global refractories industry include Seven Refractories, Morgan Advanced Materials, RHI Magnesita, CoorsTek Inc., Vesuvius PLC, Resco Products, Krosaki Harima Corp., IFGL refractories ltd., HarbisonWalker International, and Imerys, among others.
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Restrictions on construction and industrial operations in the major parts of the world owing to a significant surge in COVID-19 cases could slow down the product demand to some extent. However, the positive approach of governments globally to curb the spread of the coronavirus is expected to revive refractories business growth in the coming years. The industry is expected to grow steadily in the coming years as investments in private and public infrastructures grow across the globe.