SOURCE: Freedonia Group

May 05, 2006 09:34 ET

U.S. Polymer Nanocomposites Demand to Exceed 7 Billion Pounds in 2020

CLEVELAND, OH -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 5, 2006 -- By 2010, nanocomposites demand will grow to nearly 350 million pounds, and will rise to over seven billion pounds with a value nearing $15 billion by 2020. Although the hype surrounding polymer nanocomposites has been in full-throttle for nearly a decade, the market for these new materials has not played out as well as many had hoped. However, as commercial interest has moved beyond pilot programs and taken hold in applications such as packaging and motor vehicle parts, it appears that nanocomposites are finally ready for a market breakthrough. Advances will be fueled by declining prices of nanomaterials and composites, as production levels increase and technical issues concerning dispersion of nano-additives in compounds are overcome. By 2020, over 360 million pounds of nanomaterials, valued at $2 billion, will be used to produce nanocomposites, with demand for nanotubes alone exceeding $1 billion. These and other trends including market share, market leaders, market size and company profiles are presented in "Nanocomposites," a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry research firm.

Over the near term, growth will be fastest in higher-priced resins such as engineered plastics and thermoplastic elastomers, as much of the initial demand will be in higher-end applications. Eventually, however, nanocomposites based on commodity plastics, such as polypropylene, polyethylene and PVC, will dominate the market. While nearly all current demand is in thermoplastic resins, nanocomposites based on thermosets will grow to over 20 percent of the total by 2020. Unsaturated polyester will become the primary thermoset used in nanocomposites, as nanomaterial additives will increasingly enhance or replace glass fiber-reinforced materials in a number of markets.

Packaging and motor vehicles, two key early markets for nanoclay and nanotube composites, will remain important through the end of the next decade, accounting for nearly 40 percent of demand in 2020. Nanocomposites are expected to penetrate a number of key packaging applications, including soft drinks, beer, food, pharmaceuticals and electronics, driven by the improved barrier, strength and conductive properties that they offer. In motor vehicles, automotive manufacturers are increasingly turning to nanocomposites in an effort to replace higher-priced materials, increase production speed of parts and reduce motor vehicle weight in a number of exterior, interior and underhood applications.

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