Silicon Alloys Market size is valued at around US$7.2 billion in 2021 and it is projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.6% during 2022-2027. Silicon is the second most abundantly available element within the earth crust which owns the quality of both metals and non-metals. It is mainly available in numerous forms such as quartz, sand, agate, jasper, and amethyst including others. Silicon is widely used in electronics and microelectronics industry and considered compatible surface to be used in the presence of photon energy. The major portion of silicon production is utilized in the manufacturing of ferro silicon which is the alloy of iron and silicon. The ferro silicon alloy is extensively used in steel industry. Silicon is considered as refractory metal and also used in the formation of aluminum alloy in order to develop superior casting properties. Aluminum silicon alloys are majorly used in industrial components and structure which requires better corrosion resistance and light weight properties.
Many of the industries across the global have faced several challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The industries such as automotive and transportation, aerospace and defense, construction, and electronics and semiconductors including many other has experienced pitfalls. Many projects in such industries have been halted due to an interrupted supply chain and employee shortages due to quarantines. Construction activities were banned in many places due to safety concerns and to curb the spread of infection. Also, the production in automotive industry has declined due to an interrupted supply chain and cessation in transportation of raw materials. Moreover, there was a sharp decrease in the production of steel and steel products due to factory shut down. Thus, the global pause in industrial production and distribution, the demand and consumption of silicon alloys has hampered to an extent in several industries.
Silicon Alloys Market Segment Analysis – By Type
The ferro silicon segment held the largest share in the silicon alloys market in 2021 and it accounts for around 45% of share in the global market. The major share of silicon production is utilized to manufacture ferro silicon alloy which is the alloy of silicon and iron. Initially, ferro silicon was the first commercialized use of silicon. Ferro silicon is primarily used in steel industry where it mainly used to deoxidise steel. It is consumed as an inoculant in the manufacturing of cast iron in order to improve the casting properties. It contains around 15% – 90% of silicon depends on the type of application and industry use. Other than its use in steel industry, it is also utilized as a pre-alloy in the formation of magnesium ferro silicon, production of silicon steel, and the fabrication of transformer core. Thus, the ferro silicon alloy is expected to dominate the global market during the forecast period owing to its wide range of applications.
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Silicon Alloys Market Segment Analysis – By End-Use Industry
The electronics and semiconductor segment is projected to grow with the highest CAGR of around 7.4% during the forecast period. Silicon is majorly used in electronics and semiconductor industry owing to the increase in usage for integrated circuits for modern computers. During the past few years, the demand for silicon alloys in electronics industry has surged due to its unique properties. These are majorly used in electronics and semiconductor devices such as integrated circuits, printed circuit boards, and transistors due to the conductive properties of silicon. Amorphous silicon alloys are remarkably used in thin film photovoltaic cells, thin film transistor, liners image sensors, and two-dimensional optical position detectors. Thus, surge in demand for silicon alloys in electronics and semiconductor along with abundance availability of silicon is further expected to provide the growth opportunity to the industry players.
Silicon Alloys Market Segment Analysis – By Geography
The Asia Pacific is the leading region that accounts for the largest share in the silicon alloys market in 2021 and held nearly 40% of market share. This growth is mainly attributed to the surge in demand for silicon alloys in various end-use industries in the region such as automotive and transportation, aerospace, electronics and semiconductors, and construction including other. China dominated the Asia Pacific silicon alloys market which accounts for nearly one-third of the total market share. Asia Pacific is one of the significant regions in the production of steel. Silicon alloys are largely used in the manufacturing of stainless steel, special alloy steel, and carbon steel. The steel production in this region is growing over the years, in turn, increasing the demand for silicon alloys.
Silicon Alloys Market – Drivers
Rising Demand in Automotive Industry
Currently, silicon alloys play an important role in the several end use industries in wide range of application areas. These alloys are extensively used in automotive industry to produce durable, stronger, and lightweight automotive parts. The most commonly manufactured vehicle parts using silicon alloys are tire rims, piston, and engine blocks. According to The Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles (OICA), in 2020, the global vehicle production was reduced by 16%. However, in Asia Pacific the production was decreased by 10% and it is the largest producer in the world accounting for 57% of world production in 2020. The properties of silicon alloys such as superior corrosion resistance, high strength and weight ratio, wear resistance, and low thermal expansion coefficient make it suitable to use in the automotive industry. Vehicles become heavier with increase in improved comfort and safety features. During the past few years, the demand for electric and lightweight has increased significantly and the precise material is selected based on its performance. Thus, increase in demand for lightweight and high performance material in automotive industry is fueling the growth of global market.
Increase in Global Production and Consumption of Steel
Steel is one of the remarkable metal used in wide range of industries such as automotive and transportation, construction, mechanical equipment, domestic appliances, surgical instruments, and electrical equipment including many others. Properties such as better weld ability, resistance to atmospheric corrosion, and high strength are the major properties which makes it suitable for several industrial applications. Steel is known as the most recycled material and it is easy to recover from waste streams owing to its magnetic properties. According to World Steel Association, the demand for steel will grow by 4.5% in 2021 and 2.2% in 2022. Silicon alloys are extensively used in iron and steel manufacturing to produce cast iron, carbon steel, special steel, and stainless steel. Silicon alloys is considered as a substantial element in steel manufacturing which provides superior wear resistance, low electrical conductivity, improved strength, and scale resistance. Thus, increase in global steel production is boosting the growth of silicon alloys market.
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Silicon Alloys Market – Challenges
High Cost Associated With the Production of Silicon Alloys
Silicon is the second most abundantly available element in the earth crust after oxygen. Since the beginning, silicon and its alloys are widely used in range of applications such as modern electronic product, steel manufacturing, and as a lightweight material in automotive industry. Commercially, it is produced in the arc furnace with the reduction of silicone dioxide. Silicon consists of other elements in its raw form and purification is done with more complex processes. The production process has evolved over the years from blast furnace to the electric arc furnace. The energy intensive manufacturing processes such as smelting and costly equipment ultimately increase the overall production cost of the silicon alloys. This factor is restraining the growth of the market; however, ongoing technological advancement is expected to reduce the impact during the forecast period.
Silicon Alloys Industry Outlook
Technology launches, acquisitions, and R&D activities are key strategies adopted by players in the Silicon Alloys market. Silicon alloys top 10 companies include –
1. Elkem ASA
2. Erdos Metallurgy Group
3. Ferroglobe PLC
4. FINNFJORD AS
5. Iran Ferroalloy Industries Co.
6. Iran Ferrosilice Co.
7. Kuwait Ferro Alloys
9. OM Holdings Ltd.
10. Pertama Ferroalloys Sdn. Bhd.
In December 2021, Elkem ASA announced new project for the production of silicon with reduced CO2 emissions. The Research Council of Norway granted Elkem NOK 16 million for the development of this new project. The company is aiming to overcome the environmental impact in the silicon production.
In May 2019, Elkem ASA has announced the temporary reduction in their production capacity for silicon due to the major decrease in ferrosilicon prices and availability of oversupply in the market.
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Europe is the fastest growing region in the global silicon alloys market. This growth is mainly attributed to the presence and growth of key end use industries and adoption of ferro silicon in numerous applications in this region.
Cast iron is expected to be the fasted growing segment by application owing to the surge in demand from range of end use industries.
Silicon alloys plays an important role in several industries especially in the steel production which is expected to provide significant growth opportunity for the global market.
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