How the US Became a Leader in the Global Polyethylene Industry

The expansion of natural gas production in the US has changed the landscape of thermoplastics. The largest building block in the industry, ethylene, can be produced from derivatives of crude oil or natural gas. Over the past few years, the increased production of natural gas in the US, supported by technological improvements related to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, caused the price of natural gas to see average annual declines of 11% between 2005 and 2015. This price shift, along with elevated oil prices throughout the past decade, caused many thermoplastic producers to prefer natural gas over oil in their production of feedstocks.

Topics: Materials & Chemicals Industry Insights Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group

Flat Glass Manufacturers Expand into Developing Areas

Expansion has always been key to the world flat glass industry. Since it’s impractical to ship glass long distances, companies must open a new plant whenever they enter a new intended market. But with the cost to open a float plant with a 500 metric ton per day capacity between $150 and $200 million, flat glass producers must be sure that such a large investment will pay off. As a result, in recent years more companies have been expanding in developing areas, where less mature markets have a greater potential for growth.

Topics: Materials & Chemicals Industry Insights Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group

After Aerospace: The Future of Carbon Fiber Composites in the US

Carbon fiber has been touted as the material of the future for decades. Reinforced plastics (called composites) with carbon fiber are several times stronger and several times lighter than steel or aluminum. The problem, of course, is that carbon fiber composites are also much more expensive — anywhere from $40 per pound to $500 per pound depending on the application. 

However, carbon fiber has recently scored its first major commercial success, in the aerospace market. Aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus had been experimenting with carbon fiber composites for a number of years, but the material was never able to be used for large aircraft structures such as the wings or body. That all changed with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which uses carbon fiber composites for the main structure, accounting for about half of total weight of the plane.

Topics: Materials & Chemicals Industry Insights Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group

What’s Driving the Demand for Impact-Resistant Windows and Doors

A forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicting a near- or above-normal 2016 Atlantic hurricane season (after years of below-normal activity) throws the importance of impact-resistant windows and doors — sturdy-framed, multi-pane products designed to withstand violent winds and windborne debris — into sharp relief.   

According to Mariel Behnke, a Construction Analyst with The Freedonia Group, impact-resistant windows and doors account for around 10% of the market for window and doors in value terms. And both products are expected to achieve steady, above-average growth through 2020.
Topics: Materials & Chemicals Manufacturing & Construction Industry Insights Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group

Updates to TSCA Will Bring New Regulatory Environment for Solvent Suppliers

On June 22nd, President Barack Obama signed into law the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, an update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that will make a number of changes affecting the solvent industry and other chemical suppliers. While these changes give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) greater control over the evaluation and regulation of chemicals, and could potentially have profound effects on the solvent industry for years to come, on the whole solvent suppliers are likely to fare well in the new regulatory environment.

Topics: Materials & Chemicals Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group

Protecting the Environment, One Shopping Cart at a Time

Environmental protection has an increasingly noticeable impact on consumer products. One major change has been both the makeup of available products in the marketplace and the composition of chemicals used, with producers gradually shifting to more environmentally friendly options. While this transformation is due in large part to regulations and environmental laws, consumer preference is undoubtedly shaping the industry from the front end.

Consumers prefer green products because they are seen as safer and cleaner than traditionally manufactured alternatives. From organic shampoos and lotions to bio-based cleaning products to natural paints and coatings, green products are becoming increasingly prevalent in the modern marketplace.

Topics: Materials & Chemicals Heavy Industry

US Building and Construction Markets Continue Steady Gains

Both residential and nonresidential construction markets are on solid footing, and steady gains can be expected over the next 12 to 18 months. In 2016, year-to-date new home sales are up 9 percent and existing home sales are up about 5.5 percent, according the latest US Census and National Realtors Association.

Furthermore, housing prices are trending upwards and have increased 5 to 6 percent compared to the same period the year before.[1] The US Census indicated in May that the residential housing market was on pace for about 1.164 million starts for 2016, while Freedonia anticipates new residential housing starts will ultimately reach above 1.2 million for the year. In addition, home builder confidence has remained positive throughout all of 2016.[2]

Topics: Materials & Chemicals Manufacturing & Construction Custom Market Research Industry Insights Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group

The U.S. Market for Natural Polymers to Rise 4.3 Percent

U.S. sales for natural polymers will exceed $5 billion in 2020. Natural polymers are polymeric products derived from plant and/or animal sources, including copolymers containing synthetic compounds such as cellulose ethers, starch and fermentation products, exudate and vegetable gums, protein-based polymers, marine polymers, and others.   

These natural ingredients are used extensively in the large food and beverage industry. However, the medical market will take over as the largest outlet for natural polymers by 2020. A slowdown in oil and gas drilling activity will restrain growth for natural polymer use in this industry, especially for gums and other polymers that are used as additives in drilling and fracturing fluids. Read on to see how the many and varied natural polymers are used, and learn how the demand is shifting.

Topics: Materials & Chemicals Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group

Graphene: The Birth of an Industry

As of 2015, the global market for graphene remained in its infancy, with approximately three-fourths of spending dedicated to R&D activities. Challenges related to manufacturing processes and methods of modifying graphene have prevented wider adoption of the material and limited commercialization to just a handful of graphene-based products. As manufacturing technologies advance and prices fall, more and more products are expected to reach market readiness, boosting commercial graphene demand relative to R&D spending across several segments.

Topics: Materials & Chemicals Industry Insights Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group

Tesla and BYD Gigafactories to Strain Lithium Supplies

Soaring demand growth and skyrocketing prices are making 2016 a very exciting year for lithium — the highly reactive, silvery white metal that has revolutionized the rechargeable battery industry. Portable electronics, including everything from smartphones to laptops, rely on lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries. But it will be electric vehicles (EVs) that drive lithium sales going forward, boosting prices while placing increasing pressure on global supplies. 

Topics: Materials & Chemicals Transportation & Shipping Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group