The Global Synthetic Graphite Market was valued at USD 2,382.99 million in 2020 and the market is projected to register a CAGR of over 5% during the forecast period (2021-2026).
COVID-19 has negatively impacted the market in 2020. During the pandemic, various manufacturing and production facilities such as steel plants, batteries, and other components production have been halted for quite a long period. For instance, the world crude steel output has declined by around 0.9% in 2020 compared to 2019. However, in the second half of 2020, with the ease of regulations, manufacturers have resumed production. This, in turn, is projected to drive the market in the coming years.
- Over the short term, major factors driving the market studied are increasing demand for electric vehicles and high purity levels of synthetic graphite. With the increasing government policies and support through subsidies across major economies, such as China, India, Japan, Canada, the European Union, and the United States, the sales and demand for EVs are increasing at a significant rate across the world, which is stimulating the growth of synthetic graphite market.
- On the flip side, high costs compared to natural graphite, stringent environmental regulations, and the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to hinder the growth of the market studied.
- Metallurgy dominated the application segment of the market, and it is expected to continue its dominance during the forecast period as well.
- Asia-Pacific dominated the market across the globe, with the largest consumption seen in countries, such as China, Japan, and India.
Key Market Trends
Increasing Demand from Metallurgy Segment
- In metallurgical applications, graphite is used in several forms, such as electrodes, refractories, bricks, monolithic, crucibles, etc. During the production of steel or Ferro-alloys and aluminum, synthetic graphite is used as an anode in the electric arc furnace (EAF) method.
- Synthetic graphite electrodes are employed in metallurgical applications as a source of energy for the processes, including melting scrap iron in an electric furnace, refining of ceramic materials, manufacturing chemicals, such as calcium carbide, and other applications, that require high temperature and clean energy source.
- Synthetic graphite electrodes are made in various grades, like ultra-high power (UHP), high power (HP), and regular power (RP), based on electric current capability. High purity graphite electrodes are used to conduct electrical current to melt scrap steel. Synthetic graphite is used in various compositions, including at a purity of 99.99%. In most metallurgical applications, synthetic graphite is preferred to natural graphite, as they are known to handle very high electric currents, due to their high purity and conductivity.
- Some of the typical customers in the metallurgical application include metal producers and refractory producers. Synthetic graphite powders are used as a re-carburizer in this application.
- Electric arc furnace (EAF) in steel mils and iron and steel foundries use UHP electrodes (usually 350 mm and larger) and HP and UHP electrodes (usually 400 mm and smaller), respectively. Ladle metallurgy/refining furnace in steel mills employ UHP (usually 400 and 450 mm) and HP (usually 200 - 400 mm) electrodes. In fused mineral applications, the industry uses HP and some UHP (usually 350 mm and smaller). For zinc and copper melters, HP (usually 300 and smaller) is used. For coke purification, UHP (400 mm, extra densification steps) is employed.
- The growing crude steel production across the world is expected to affect the usage of synthetic graphite in metallurgical applications. According to the World Steel Association, the world crude steel production increased from 1,538 million tons in 2010 to 1,864.0 million tons for the year 2020.
- All the afore-mentioned factors are expected to show significant impact on the market over the forecast period.
China to Dominate the Market in the Asia-Pacific Region
- China continues to dominate synthetic graphite production and demand globally. Almost all stages of the lithium-ion battery manufacturing chain are focused on China and China is by far the largest and most rapidly growing market for lithium-ion batteries, which paves the way for the market growth of synthetic graphite.
- China accounts for more than 45% of global graphite demand in lithium-ion batteries but is forecasted to reach more than 50% during the forecast period.
- China's battery manufacturers led by CATL and BYD, supported by the government's industrial expansion vision, are coming up with massive battery production plants. China is the premier destination to produce lithium-ion batteries effectively and cheaply, moving ahead of East Asian rivals Japan and South Korea.
- As of December 2019, the number of Li-ion battery mega factories in China that are in pipeline to 2029 stood at 88, and the planned Li-ion battery capacity is 564GWh by 2028. The coronavirus outbreak costed Chinese battery manufacturers with around 26GWh of output in 2020.
- Synthetic graphite major application include electrodes in steel making industry. China holds the largest share in terms of consumption and production capacity of graphite electrodes in the global scenario. At present, there are more than 40 official graphite electrode producers in China in which 30 more new entrants to the market in the past two years which make other refractory products as well as electrodes.
- The government of China is also focusing on developing eco-friendly means of producing steel and it has lately announced its target to produce 20% of the country's steel through electric arc furnace, by 2020.
- According to World Steel Association, the crude steel production in China has reached 1,053.0 million tonnes in 2020 witnessing a rise by around 5.2% compared to 2019.
- Therefore, considering the aforementioned factors, the demand for synthetic graphite is expected to witness a rapid increase in Asia-Pacific, during the forecast period.
The global market for synthetic graphite is partially consolidated in nature, as the top five players in the market control nearly 60% of the market share. The top five players in the global synthetic graphite market are SHOWA DENKO K.K. (including SGL Carbon), Better New Energy Material Ltd., GrafTech International., Shanshan Technology, and Imerys Graphite & Carbon, among others.
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