Demand for specific silica products is closely tied to the outlook for key end use industries. According to analyst Larry Catsonis, “As a strong rebound in building and construction spending is expected in the forecast period, demand for silica gel, which finds application in a variety of coatings and paints, will see its most significant gains.” The outlook for precipitated silica, on the other hand, is tied strongly to the tire industry. Precipitated silica is finding greater use as a filler and reinforcement agent in tires, as it offers improved fuel economy over conventional tires.
Precipitated silica will remain the largest segment of the specialty silica market in both volume and value terms. Precipitated silica is also expected to be the fastest growing specialty silica product through 2019, promoted by robust gains in the large tire rubber sector, as well as in coatings and inks. Overall market value will benefit from the ongoing development of more expensive and higher-performance precipitated silicas, such as highly dispersible grades for tire reinforcement.
Among specialty silica markets, the rubber market is forecast to expand at the most rapid pace through 2019, further strengthening its position as the leading outlet for specialty silicas. Though advances in US rubber consumption will slow as domestic production of motor vehicles and other manufactured goods posts weak growth, in the tire rubber segment precipitated silica will find higher use and increased loadings in low rolling-resistance tires. Cosmetics and toiletries represented the second largest market for specialty silicas in both volume and value terms in 2014 and will continue to do so through the forecast period. Precipitated silica is the most widely used product, accounting for more than 80 percent of demand in this market.