Cryolite (with the chemical name sodium hexafluoroaluminate) is an inorganic compound with the formula Na3AlF3. Cryolite is generally manufactured from aluminum oxide, sodium hydroxide and hydrofluoric acid or their equivalent reagent — hexafluorosilicic acid. Cryolite is a fluxing agent with a very low melting point. In large amounts, cryolite can become volatile in presence of silica and can cause blistering.
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Cryolite is primarily used as a flux in the smelting or electrolytic production of aluminum. Although it is used in a small amount, it still plays a crucial role in aluminum production. For instance, for the production of one ton of aluminum, approximately 2 Kg of cryolite is required. The melting point of alumina is very high and hence, it is blended with cryolite to reduce the melting point of alumina. Cyrolite is also used for the production of abrasives, welding agents, soldering agents, blasting, glazing frits and glass and pyrotechnics. Cryolite also finds applications in metal surface treatment and is used as a component in pickling pastes for stainless steel.
Cryolite Market: Market Dynamics
Rising demand for aluminum in the automotive industry due to its light weight & high strength and stringent vehicle emission regulations are expected to be two of the most prominent factors responsible for the growth in demand for cryolite for aluminum production in near future. Further, increasing construction spending led by rapid urbanization, growing global per capita income and global GDP growth is expected to augment the demand for aluminum over the forecast period. Since cryolite is a principal material used in aluminum smelting as it drastically reduces the melting point of aluminum ore (generally between 900 °C to 1,000 °C), the growth in aluminum production will directly lead to the growth of the global cryolite market.
However, over the recent past, several geographies, such as Brazil, France, Argentina, etc. have witnessed decline in aluminum production, which is expected to restrain the demand in the cryolite market in these regions. The growth of the market is also expected to be hampered by the high demand supply gap and fluctuations in aluminum prices. Several companies are investing in research and development activities to promote the development of potential alternatives of cryolite in aluminum smelting to further reduce the melting temperature of the aluminum ore. Such positive developments can pose a significant threat to the overall global cryolite market.
Moreover, increasing demand for cryolite for the production of abrasives and welding agent applications is expected to create significant growth opportunities for the cryolite market during the forecast period. Further, other niche applications of cryolite are set to lead to lucrative growth opportunities, which will eventually lead to the growth of the market.
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Cryolite Market: Segmentation
On the basis of application, the global cryolite market can be categorized as:
- Aluminum Smelting
- Abrasive Production
- Metal Surface treatment
- Welding Agent
Cryolite Market: Regional Outlook
The Global cryolite market, by region, is segmented into North America, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, South East Asia & Pacific (SEAPAC), China, Japan and MEA. China leads the global cryolite market and is followed by North America owing to significant aluminum production facilities in the region. China is expected to witness significant increase in aluminum production to meet the growing demand from end-use industries, primarily from end-use industries.
South East Asia & Pacific is expected to be the most lucrative region in terms of growth and is set to create significant opportunities for the growth of cryolite manufacturers. Countries, such as India, Thailand and Malaysia, are expected to key regions for the growth in demand for cryolite over the forecast period owing to increasing automobile production along with aluminum production. Increasing stringent environmental regulations in Europe are pushing the automotive OEMs towards lightweight (aluminum) products, which in turn, is creating significant growth opportunities for the cryolite market in the region.
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