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Precipitated silica market seeing solid growth, driven by green tires

The precipitated silica market will see healthy growth in 2011, with global volumes forecast to expand 6.4% to 2.0 million tonnes. This performance follows double-digit volume growth in 2010 as the market recovered from 2009’s recessionary lows. Based on feedback from suppliers and leading customers, 2012 is expected to be another solid growth year, while long-term gains (2010 to 2015) are forecast at 5.7% per year.

Green tires, where highly dispersible silica is used in tread compounds to reduce rolling resistance or improve handling, are a key driver of future growth, and non-tire rubber and battery separator markets also have seen strong recovery after being hard-hit during the downturn. Oral care markets continue to benefit from new consumers in the developing world, as well as expanded market share for silica at the expense of less effective fillers.

These forecasts are the conclusions of a new report, the Silica Market Update, published this week by Notch Consulting. The Silica Market Update is a bi-annual (twice yearly) report on current conditions and future prospects for the global precipitated silica industry. The October 2011 issue is 23 pages with 12 tables, and includes a special section providing precipitated silica market share by company (including total precipitated silica sales in US dollars, as well as market share by company for major markets and regions). The report also covers demand by region, current expansion projects, and capacity by company. The report provides annual demand for 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, as well as forecasts for 2011, 2012, and 2015. Average pricing is provided for various grades of precipitated silica (dental, food, highly dispersible and conventional rubber grades) for the United States, the European Union and China.

Silica pricing has benefited from solid demand and very tight supplies, allowing suppliers to offset rising feedstock costs through price increases. Tight supplies and solid long-term forecasts have also prompted leading suppliers to invest in new capacity; the Silica Market Update provides details of recent and current projects by Evonik Industries, Rhodia, Huber Engineered Materials, PPG Industries, OSC Group, Madhu Silica, and PQ Corporation, among others.

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