Performance Fluorine Chemicals and Polymers
The U.S. market for fluorochemical and polymers is expected to increase from 2.1 billion pounds in 2016 to nearly 2.4 billion pounds in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.3% for 2016-2021.
- An overview of the markets for fluorchemical and polymers.
- Analyses of global market trends, with data for 2015, estimates for 2016, and projections of compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) through 2021.
- Discussions of the chemistry and physico-chemical properties of fluorochemicals and polymers, their syntheses, and some newer technologies.
- A look at industry and market structure of the U.S. performance fluorochemical/polymers industry, with emphasis on the major domestic producers and suppliers.
- Evaluation of how these affect chemical and electrical/electronic manufacture, packaging, and a number of other important commercial and consumer businesses and markets.
- Profiles of major players in the industry.
This study covers many of the most important technological, economic, political and environmental considerations in the U.S. performance fluorine chemicals/polymers industry. It is primarily a study of U.S. markets, but because of the global nature of chemistry, it touches on some noteworthy international activities; these are primarily those that can have an impact on the U.S. market such as imports/exports, foreign firms that operate here, and the international protocols on issues like the ozone layer and global warming. Our market estimates are for materials sold on the merchant market; we do not include chemicals and polymers consumed captively by their manufacturers.
Market analyses, estimates and forecasts are presented for base year 2016 and a five-year forward forecast to 2021. Market estimate tables are presented in volumes in millions of pounds and are all rounded to the nearest million pounds. Some materials have very small markets, only a few million pounds. However, the precision of any market analysis like this one, with many different products serving multiple markets, cannot be much better than 1 million lbs. (and probably not even that precise). Thus for all materials that have any market at all, the smallest volume will be 1 million lbs. even though the actual volume may be lower than that; in our market estimate tables a volume shown as 1 million lbs. can mean anything between zero and 1.5 million lbs. All growth rates are compounded and presented as a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR). Because of rounding of these small numbers, some CAGRs may not agree exactly with figures in the market tables but serve to provide our growth estimates.
For purposes of this study, the term “fluoropolymer” is used to denote any fluorochemical that is prepared from some significantly smaller molecule and that does not have an exactly defined molecular structure. Thus we consider as polymers not only the fluorocarbon resins and elastomers usually classified as such, but also the shorter, lower molecular weight materials that are usually not solids. These include, for example, textile treating chemicals, surfactants, functional fluids and reactive fluorochemical intermediates. Since many of these products are made from the same basic fluorocarbon or fluorosilicone monomers as the resins and elastomers, they have greater kinship with the other polymers than with other organic fluorochemicals.
Aside from this chapter, the report consists of eight others:
Chapter Two, Summary, encapsulates our findings and conclusions and includes the summary table with our overall major market estimates and forecast. It is the place where the busy executive can find the major findings of the study in summary format.
Chapter Three, Overview of Fluorochemicals and Polymers, has sections devoted to the three main types or classes of these products: organic fluorochemicals; inorganic fluorochemicals; and fluoropolymers and fluoroelastomers. The most important subclasses of each are introduced and described, such as aliphatic and aromatic fluorine compounds.
Chapter Four is the first of two chapters devoted to market analyses, estimates and forecasts. It discusses, estimates and forecasts markets for performance fluorine chemicals by product type or class, again segmented into the three large groupings of organic chemicals, inorganic chemicals and polymers. We start the section for each of these three major product types/classes with a market estimate and forecast for the major types of performance fluorochemicals and polymers in each class, for base year 2016 and forecast year 2021. Then, in each section we introduce and describe important applications, with additional breakout tables.
Chapter Five discusses, estimates and forecasts the markets by applications. We have categorized applications into nine specific groups, plus one catch-all “other” class for some uses that do not fall easily into one of the other nine. These applications groups are as follows:
- Water fluoridation chemicals, relatively large volume silicofluorides and inorganic fluorides.
- Dentistry, inorganic fluorides used in toothpastes.
- Nonelectrical equipment. End-uses covered here utilize the physical, rather than chemical, characteristics of fluorochemicals; these lead to uses in industrial equipment and machinery manufacture and use as cleaning agents, functional fluids and in finished polymer parts such as piping.
- Electrical and electronics (E/E) manufacture, mostly in the important business of microelectronics and semiconductors. Principal uses are in microelectronics and semiconductor manufacture, such as for cleaning and preparing E/E equipment for further processing.
- Electrical equipment, a segment dominated by two large end-uses: fluoropolymer wire/cable sheathing and switchgear dielectrics.
- Chemical processing, which include all applications that serve the “chemical processing industries” (CPI) in the term’s chemical sense. This means applications that stress chemical rather than physical properties, since physical applications such as chemical piping and valves are covered in nonelectrical equipment.
- Refrigeration, a market group served by only one type of fluorochemical, currently HCFC and HFC replacement products for the banned CFCs .
- Coatings and surface treatments for both inside and outside surfaces. We include here applications that may not end up on an outside surface, such as the important use in making insulation foam for architectural walls.
- Packaging and other consumer applications. These include fluorochemical replacements for CFCs as blowing agents for consumer products (such as appliance insulation and flexible foams for cushions, etc.), plus diverse other end-uses such as sports apparel and some medical packaging.
- Other applications, ranging from firefighting to Teflon tapes.
Chapter Six is devoted to fluorochemical technologies. It includes discussions of the chemistry and physico-chemical properties of fluorochemicals and polymers, their syntheses and some newer technologies.
Chapter Seven discusses the industry and market structure of the U.S. performance fluorochemical/polymers industry, with emphasis on the major domestic producers and suppliers. We also note several important foreign-owned supplier companies that operate in the U.S. Imports and exports, product prices and pricing methods, distribution and technical service are also discussed.
Chapter Eight, Regulation and Public Policy, covers public issues, primarily CFCs and their replacements and their effect on the ozone layer, the greenhouse effect, the seemingly never-ending controversy over water fluoridation, and a newer controversy over some perfluorochemicals.
Chapter Nine offers profiles of companies that BCC Research considers to be among the most important or visible in this industry. There are many more companies that operate in one or more niche markets, but we try to list the ones that we consider important enough to be considered major producers and suppliers.
Ending the report is an Appendix, a glossary of some important terms, abbreviations, acronyms, etc. used in the fluorochemical and polymer industry.
Outside the scope of this study are compounds we do not consider “performance” compounds. We make no attempt to cover the entire field of fluorine chemistry; it is simply too large. Literally thousands of compounds, most of them organic, are in use in chemical synthesis to make pharmaceutical and agricultural chemicals. These compounds, especially the many intermediates, are impossible to categorize and characterize except for the fact that they contain fluorine.
We thus restrict the scope of this study to those performance fluorine compounds and classes of compounds for which definite markets have been established, whose suppliers are known, and which meet our criteria of “performance.” Only single-entry moieties are considered here; that is, mixtures and compounded resins are excluded to avoid double counting of the same chemical or resin in virgin stock and in the finished product.
This insistence on including only single-entry moieties can be difficult. Since many such compounds are monomers or other starting materials as well as intermediates, there is always the possibility of double counting and overstatement of subsequent estimates. Many popular refrigerants are mixtures of fluorochemicals. Captive use further complicates the analysis; for example, a significant percentage of the PTFE resin made is used captively. Finished fluorine-containing pharmaceutical and agricultural products are beyond our scope since they are huge dollar markets by themselves.
We define “performance” as signifying that the product has properties that make it unique for its performance and applications. Such chemicals, which normally command higher prices and are made in relatively small volumes, are also usually grouped with specialty chemicals and products (as opposed to commodities). This delineation holds fairly well for all products and applications in this report except three: hydrogen fluoride, some CFC replacements and water fluoridation chemicals. These three groups are made in large quantities and thus could be considered to be commodity in nature. We include them because they do perform specialty functions that other chemicals do not do as well; thus they are truly performance chemicals. To date the CFC replacements are also more costly than true commodities.
Because of the versatility of these compounds, many products and companies appear more than once in the report. In order to reduce repetition, in Chapter 4’s discussion of markets by product type/class, we present overall market estimate tables for each class of fluoro product (organics, inorganics and polymers); each table is then segmented by major product type or application. Then we introduce the most important applications for each type or class.
In Chapter Five, which further discusses markets by application, we estimate and forecast markets in each of the major applications groups and “other” applications, as mentioned above. For each of these groups, we break the forecasts down into the type of fluorochemical or polymer, and in many cases further break down the forecast to individual compounds, compound classes or application (see below for more on the difficulties in classifying these materials).
Even with this separation, we still discuss some products and applications in more than one place. This treatment may seem repetitious, but we feel that it is important to cite key information at the place where it is appropriate and pertinent. Many readers will only purchase or may turn to particular sections of the report for specific information, and we want that information to be there for them. Thus, any apparent repetition is a deliberate action to place information where it will be the most helpful. By covering the bases in this manner, we attempt to show all the different uses and interactions, and by this means also again show the versatility of fluorine chemicals and polymers.
This report is an overview of the entire field of performance fluorine chemistry and its products, and as such is not as detailed as some specialty reports that focus in greater detail on one specific group of fluorine chemicals or polymers.
Dr. J. Charles Forman is a research analyst for BCC Research covering polymers and chemicals. His work in industry included 21 years at Abbott Laboratories in R&D and manufacturing management. Dr. Forman has researched and written more than 70 multiclient market research reports on a variety of subjects ranging from building construction materials and spectroscopy to several studies on plastic packaging. He has been writing for BCC Research for over 20 years. His educational credentials include an S.B. from MIT and M.S. and Ph.D. Degrees from Northwestern University, all in chemical engineering. He is also a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.)