By Cameron Chai
According to the research report published by Global Industry Analysts (GIA), the global Zirconium market is expected to reach 2.6 million metric tons by 2017. The report provides sales estimates and forecasts from 2009 to 2017 for the various geographic markets, including Asia-Pacific, Europe, Japan, Canada and the U.S.
The growth in the worldwide nuclear energy industry will increase the demand for Zirconium, as well as increase its production capacities globally. Other growth factors are increasing the demand from the Asia-Pacific region and also the ceramic tile production activity. Zirconium oxide, also known as zirconia, is used in various low-volume, high-end consumer and industrial applications, including medical products, optical fibers, waterproof clothing and cosmetics. There is a greater consumption of zirconia materials like zircon flour and fused zirconia due to a rapid increase in the ceramic tile production capacity in China. Korea, India and China are the important growth markets for zirconium oxide. Based on the Zirconium market research report, Asia-Pacific represents the largest and rapidly growing regional market in the world. Saint-Gobain, headquartered in France, is one of the major manufacturers of zirconia.
The major end-use market of zirconium is the ceramics, which includes tiles, sanitary ware and tableware. The next major markets that use zirconium materials are refractory and foundry sectors. Zircon is utilized as an opacifier for a wide variety of ceramic products and it is also used as a glass component in computer monitor and television faceplates, as the material possesses radiation absorbing characteristics. Zircon-based refractory brick is used as an alternative to fused zirconia based solutions.