US demand for refractories is projected to grow 3.7 percent per year to $2.6 billion in 2016. Output of steel in the US is expected to reverse its decline, driving up demand for refractory products. Gains will also result as nonresidential fixed investment spending returns to strong growth through 2016, prompting a resurgence in the production of a number of goods such as cement and glass. The market for refractories as measured in tons will increase 1.4 percent per annum to 2.3 million tons in 2016, still short of 2006 levels.
In 2011, sales of refractories to iron and steel manufacturers made up 45 percent of total refractory sales. After the steep decline in steel output during the recent recession, steel manufacturing in the US -- along with the associated refractory demand -- is expected to rebound. The expected resurgence in US manufacturing output through 2016 will aid in driving sales of refractories; however, trends in refractory technology toward long lasting, durable refractories that resist corrosion, spalling, and mechanical stresses will limit gains in demand going forward by lengthening replacement intervals. Nevertheless, high-performance refractories can command premium prices, aiding value gains in the market. Most materials manufacturing industries have reduced their per-production-unit consumption of refractories by using these new products and utilizing improved industrial processes.
Market gains for refractories will be led by sales of monolithic refractories, specialized shapes, and other types of refractories through 2016. The performance of monolithic refractories has improved greatly over time, making them more versatile, durable, and easier to use, raising sales of these types. Technological advancements have also made products such as specialty shapes much more cost effective and efficient, spurring demand for those forms as well. With regard to materials, the shift toward optimized product selection will continue. Refractory consumers are increasingly choosing high-grade refractories with an elevated price, tuned to perform well under specific operating conditions. As a result, sales of materials such as zirconia, zircon, and silicon carbide will increase quickly. Shipments of nonclay products are expected to outperform shipments of clay refractories through 2016.
The fastest gains of any market will be posted in the nonmetallic minerals market through 2016. This market includes glass, ceramics, and cement producers, all of which were hurt by the recent economic downturn. Shipments from these industries will rise quickly as the US economy continues to grow, fueling associated refractory demand. Further gains will come from nonmanufacturing markets for refractories, such as waste-to-energy plants, traditional power plants, and the construction and renovation of restaurants with in-house bakeries and stone ovens. These refractory markets are much smaller than those for metals or nonmetallic minerals processing.
This Freedonia industry study, “Refractories”, presents historical demand data for 2001, 2006 and 2011, plus forecasts for 2016 and 2021 by refractory form (e.g., bricks and shapes, monolithics), material (e.g., nonclay, clay) and market (e.g., metals industries, engineering contractors, nonmetallic mineral processing). The study also considers key market environment factors, evaluates company market share and profiles industry competitors such as ANH Refractories, Cookson, Magnasita, Minerals Technologies, RHI, and Saint- Gobain.