The silicon metal market has witnessed high demand in the iron and steel industry due to the large consumption of ferrosilicon. The substantial adoption of ferrosilicon in steel smelting is one of the major revenue drivers in the silicon metal market. The advent of new methods of metallurgical grade silicon has contributed to the production of higher quality products for end users in the silicon metal market. Revenues come from a range of applications, including in the manufacture of silicon chips, solar cells and aluminum alloys. Over the past few years, increasing consumption of silicon metal in paints and coatings industries has helped propel the growth of the market. The automotive industry has exploited the attractive mechanical and physical properties of silicon metal such as structural durability and dimensional stability. The widespread application of silicon-based aluminum alloys is driving the silicon metal market. In recent years, the market has witnessed new avenues of growth through the demand for heat and corrosion resistant ferrous silicon alloys.
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The silicon metal market was worth US$6.53 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 4.98% from 2019 to 2027.
The growth of the automotive sector mainly influences the development of the market
Silicon-based aluminum alloys are increasingly used in automotive applications due to the need to reduce weight to reduce fuel consumption. Silicon and aluminum are alloyed to form silumina. Depending on the silicon content, aluminum-silicon alloys are classified into different grades. In terms of volume, the silicon content of silicon metal alloys ranges from 3% to 50%. The addition of metallic silicon to aluminum creates favorable properties such as high thermal conductivity, good castability, high corrosion resistance and machinability. Silicon-based aluminum alloys are increasingly being used to replace heavy cast iron and steel components in the automotive industry. Increasing the silicon content of aluminum-silicon alloys improves wear resistance under moderate wear conditions. Silicon-based aluminum alloys have sufficient strength for structural durability, stability, and resistance to bumps and shocks. Formability for bending, stretching and deep drawing operations is increased. Additionally, growth in the automotive sector is expected to drive the silicon metal market over the forecast period. The automotive industry is a major consumer of silicon-based aluminum alloys. This, in turn, is driving the demand for silicon metal and aluminum in the automotive sector. Thus, the growing demand for automobiles and growth in the automotive sector is likely to increase the silicon metal market in the near future.
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Fluctuation in the cost of raw materials may hamper the growth of the market
The cost of producing silicon metal depends on key variables such as the cost of energy, raw materials, labor and transportation. The silicon metal production industry requires a long-term stable power supply, as the production process involves igniting an electric arc necessary for the reduction of quartz to silicon metal. The requirement of high temperature and high power makes the production process energy-intensive, which greatly increases overall production costs. Charcoal, quartzite and wood chips are raw materials used in the production of silicon metal and therefore silicon metal manufacturers prefer physiographic regions with large deposits of quartz and charcoal. Thus, high production costs and market volatility are expected to hamper the silicon metal market.
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Based on region, the global silicon metal market has been divided into North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East & Africa. Asia-Pacific dominated the global market in 2018 as the region is an automotive and industrial hub. Additionally, the Asia-Pacific market is expected to grow at a significant rate over the forecast period owing to rising demand for automobiles, wearable electronics, and solar panels in the region, driving particularly in developing countries such as China and India.
Major players operating in the global silicon metal market include The Dow Chemical Company, Elkem ASA, RUSAL, Ferroglobe, Wacker Chemie AG, RIMA Group, Simcoa Operations Pty Ltd, RW Silicon GmbH, MINASLIGAS, and Wynca Group.
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