Growth of the flame retardants market is restricted by factors, such as the toxic nature of halogenated flame retardants and high loading levels of non-halogenated flame retardants altering the properties of final products. The opportunities for flame retardant manufacturers lies in developing more effective synergist compounds to boost the performance of flame retardants. Synergist blends help in reducing the amount of halogenated flame retardants by percent weight, thus reducing the toxicity and improving the retardant properties.
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In this scenario, it is extremely important that the players operating in the market remain competitive by adopting key growth strategies. The companies are aiming at increased market penetration at regional level by making expansions in production units or by introducing new innovations in the existing product lines meeting the guidelines of fire safety standards and environmental regulations. Global players have adopted a focused approach of expanding into emerging markets through expansions and new product launches.
Major players of the flame retardants market include Albemarle (U.S.), ICL (Israel), Chemtura Corporation (U.S.), Clariant (Switzerland), The Dow Chemical Company (U.S.), Nabaltec AG (Germany), Lanxess AG (Germany), Italmatch (Italy), Huber Engineered Materials (U.S.), and Akzo Nobel (Netherlands).
ICL (Israel) and Lanxess AG (Germany) are the most active players in the market. They are focusing on entering new markets by launching technologically advanced and innovative products, and making strategic expansion. Besides new product launches and expansions, companies have also adopted strategies, such as mergers & acquisitions and joint ventures/agreements/partnerships to enhance their product portfolio and distribution network.
ICL (Israel) announced the expansion of its polymeric flame retardant F-122P by establishing a production facility of capacity of 10,000 metric ton. The company also increased its production for Fyrol HF-5 to meet the growing demand. ICL signed an agreement in January 2012 to use the patents of The Dow Global Technologies (U.S.) for the production of an innovative polymer flame retardant FR 22P.
Lanxess AG (Germany) opted new product launch as a strategy to gain a strong foothold in the market. For instance, it developed Polyamide-6, a non-halogenated flame retardant of high thermal stability. The company also launched Durethan BG XF30 and Durethan BG 30 X FN01 for application in glass. It launched thermostable flame retardants at UTECH Europe with products names FRP 45, Levagard DMPP, TEP-Z, Disflamoll TOF, and DPK. It also invested USD 6.45 million for expansion in capacity by 10% of its phosphorous flame retardants group.
Growth prospects for the flame retardants market are positive with the market size projected to witness a CAGR of 6.4% between 2016 and 2021, in terms of value. Asia-Pacific is estimated to be the largest market during the forecast period, followed by North America and Western Europe. In terms of end-use industry, the building & construction dominates the flame retardants market. Aluminum trihydrate is the most widely used flame retardant worldwide.
Emerging technologies and developing more effective synergist compounds will be the key opportunities for flame retardant players in the future. For instance, there is an increasing trend of technological advancement, with manufacturing companies shifting to the use of lightweight and durable nanoparticles/nano-fillers in their polymer matrix. The Dow Chemical Company (U.S.) introduced the new polymeric technology. Polymers are reinforced with nanoparticles either by melt compounding or in-situ polymerization. The blend exhibits high thermo-mechanical and flame retardant properties by adding only 2%–5% of these particles. The main challenge posed by nanotechnology is its higher cost than other flame retardant technologies. However, their long-term benefits prove to be much more lucrative for them in such blends. According to a study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the nano-based retardants are comparatively less toxic and their chemical consumption by weight is 30% lower than conventional flame retardants with no effect on their final properties.
Phosphorous-based flame retardants are projected to register the highest growth between 2016 and 2021. The rapid growth of these retardants is triggered by the ban on use of toxic flame retardants as directed by regulatory bodies such as ROHS and IPC. The stringent regulatory framework is driving the market for phosphorous-based flame retardants in North America and Europe. In addition, the demand from polyurethanes and engineering plastics also pushed the market as phosphorous flame retardants emerged as the best commercially feasible replacement. Asia-Pacific is projected to be the largest and fastest-growing market owing to increasing production from small- to medium-scale manufacturers and consumption in various end-use industries in China.
The wires & cables market is estimated to show a significant rise in demand in near future. This growth is projected to be driven by rapid expansion in wind energy, nuclear energy, telecommunication, and other end-use industries. The demand will also be driven by the rapid expansion of the information processing and communications sectors. These users are estimated to trigger the demand for global flame retardants in the wires & cables industry. The major users of wires & cables are the building & construction, automotive, and telecommunications industries. There is considerable scope of expansion of the industry in the emerging markets of Asia-Pacific and Middle East & North Africa (MENA). Stable economic growth in developing economies, such as China and India, along with fast urbanization and investment opportunities will boost the demand for flame retardants in the region in future.
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