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Silicon metal or industrial silicon is a grey, lustrous metalloid element that is soluble in hydrofluoric acid and alkalis. It is used in the manufacture of silanes & silicones, aluminum alloys, solar cells, and microchips. Silicon metal is commonly manufactured by smelting immersed electrical arc furnaces, a highly energy-intensive process. However, refining of the material in various product grades improves its viable applicability in many manufacturing processes. It possesses two allotropic shapes, a brown amorphous shape and a dark crystalline shape. These properties make it an ideal product for the manufacture of transistors that enhance electrical signals.
The growing demand for the product from semiconductor applications has stimulated the market growth. Silicon metal acts as the conductor of electricity under certain situations, otherwise behaving as an insulator. It can provide the right conductive efficiency at controlled specifications and thus finds large application as a semiconductor in PCBs, ICs, transistors, and other electrical products. However, it requires about 6 tons of raw material to produce 1 ton of silicon metal along with 2.8 tons of quartz, 1.5 tons of reductants, and 1.5 tons of wood. Another vital cost component is energy, with about 13,000 Kwh required per ton of silicon metal produced. Thus, the major menace to the growth of the market is the high cost of production of the material.
Key Market Driver -
Increasing demand from semiconductor application is likely to drive the market growth.
Key Market Restraint -
Large production costs to hinder the market growth.
Based on product type the market for silicon metal is further segmented into metallurgy grade and chemical grade. Based on the application the market is further categorized into aluminum alloys, semiconductors, solar panels, stainless steel and other. From a geographical standpoint, the market is categorized to North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa.
The global & regional players operating in the silicon metal market includes, Ferroglobe Plc, Dow DuPont, Elkem ASA, RIMA Group, Rusal, LIASA and Wacker Chemie AG.
Asia Pacific dominated the global market, with the largest consumption coming from countries such as China and India. China is the world's largest producer of silicon metal. The existence of a large aluminum and silicone manufacturing core in China has provisioned the growth of the market. On the flip side, the North America market is anticipated to diversify at a considerable rate. In the coming years, the rising popularity of electric vehicles will perhaps be the main driving factor for semiconductor in the region, in turn driving the demand for silicon metal. Europe is a key manufacturing hub for silicone and represents considerable growth opportunities for silicon metal manufacturers operating in the region. The increasing application of solar energy is estimated to be the largest factor in strengthening industry growth in the Middle East and Latin America. Saudi Arabia, for instance, announced the introduction of a new solar photovoltaic project in March 2018, which shall push the market development in these regions.
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