Performance Fluorine Chemicals and Polymers
The U.S. overall performance fluorochemical and polymer markets was 1.8 billion pounds in 2010 and is projected to increase to 2.06 billion pounds by 2015, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.3% for five years.
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.
Market analyses, estimates, and forecasts are presented for base year 2010 and a 5-year forward forecast to 2015. 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 or perhaps less than a million. However, the precision of any market analysis and estimate like this one, with many different products serving multiple markets, cannot be much better than a million pounds (and probably not even that precise). Thus, for all materials that have any market at all, the smallest volume will be one million pounds even though the actual volume may be lower than that. All growth rates are compounded and presented as a compounded annual growth rate, or CAGR. Because of rounding of these small numbers, some CAGRs may not agree exactly with figures in the market tables.
This report is segmented into 10 chapters, of which this is the first.
The 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.
Next is an Overview to fluorochemicals and fluoropolymers, with subsections devoted to the three main types or classes of these products: (1) organic fluorochemicals, (2) inorganic fluorochemicals, and (3) fluoropolymers and fluoroelastomers. The most important subclasses of each are introduced and described, such as aliphatic and aromatic fluorine compounds.
The next chapter 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 subsection 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 2010 and forecast year 2015. Then, in each subsection we introduce and describe important applications.
The next chapter discusses and forecasts the markets by application. 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 increasingly 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 its 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, replacement products for the banned CFCs. These include hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), also now being phased out, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and a new class called hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs).
- 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 clothes and some medical packaging.
- Other applications, ranging from fire fighting to Teflon tapes.
The next chapter 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.
Public policy and other public issues are discussed in the next chapter, primarily CFCs and their replacements and their effect on the ozone layer, the greenhouse effect and global warming, and the seemingly never-ending controversy over water fluoridation.
Next we discuss 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 United States. Imports and exports, product prices and pricing methods, distribution, and technical service are also discussed.
Our last narrative chapter contains profiles of companies BCC Research considers to be among the most important or visible in these businesses. 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.
The Appendix is 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 strategy of 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 subsequent estimates overstatement. Many popular refrigerants are mixtures of fluorochemicals.
Captive use further complicates the analysis; for example, a significant percentage of the polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) resin made is used captively, along with significant quantities of organic and inorganic fluorochemicals that are made but then further converted in-house to a different product. Finished fluorine-containing pharmaceutical and agricultural products are beyond our scope since they are huge dollar markets by themselves. This study is concerned only with chemicals and polymers that are commercial products on their own and does not included captive use.
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 pretty 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 our chapter on 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 the chapter that follows on markets by applications, we estimate and forecast markets in each of the major applications groups and “other” applications, cited 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 chapters 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 to 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. BCC Research has published several such reports.
The performance fluorine chemical and polymer market reached nearly 2.4 billion pounds in 2003 and is expected to rise at an annual average growth rate (AAGR) of 1.9% to nearly 2.7 billion pounds in 2009.
Organic fluorochemicals used in refrigerants and elsewhere, will grow from onebillion pounds to 1.09 billion pounds in 2009 at a 2.4% AAGR.
- Fluoropolymers will feature the fastest growth at an AAGR of 4.2%, reaching 272 million pounds in 2009.
- The market for inorganic fluorochemicals, used for fluoride water treatment and toothpaste, is depressed by stagnant or slow growth and will rise at only a 1.1% AAGR to about 1.3 billion pounds in 2009.
Among the barriers to growth are the full banning of CFCs and the phasing out of HCFCs in the U.S.
Performance fluorine chemicals and polymers are a large business in the United States. This is not surprising since they are virtually ubiquitous in our environment and infrastructure. This business also continues to grow, with total estimated sales in our base year of 2000 of more than $5.4 billion, consuming almost 1.9 billion pounds of chemical and polymeric materials. This market has grown from 1995, when BCC last reported on the subject; at that time the overall market was about 1.5 billion pounds valued at $3.75 billion in 1995 dollars.
Organic fluorochemicals, both aliphatic and aromatic have been dominated for years by aliphatic compounds, first chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and now that CFCs are banned for most uses in the United States, by their replacement chemicals, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluoro-carbons (HFCs). These replacements have taken over the primary refrigerants market nicely, and are trying to replace CFCs in other important uses such as plastic-foam blowing. BCC predicts that organics will grow from 827 million pounds, valued at about $2.1 billion in 2000 to a billion pounds valued at about $2.5 billion in 2005.