Advanced Materials

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High quality materials that offer superior desired characteristics for the intended purpose are called advanced materials. These can either be a single product or a combination of products. Manufacturers are focusing on developing new advanced materials and on fine-tuning already existing products to enhance its desired properties. The high quality of these materials has led to their application in physics, electronics, medical devices, green packaging, and wastewater treatment among others. Some of the popular advanced materials are helping manufacturers meet the rising demand for advanced steel and aluminum alloys, and a variety of ceramics that include silicon nitride, toughened zirconia, and aluminum nitride among others. Researchers have also developed a range of advanced fibers such as Dyneema, Vectran, M5, and Zylon PBO which is estimated to have a positive impact on the advanced materials market.

Advanced materials provide improved chemical and physical properties, including high stiffness coupled with lightweight, superior strength in reinforcing fiber, high resistance to chemicals and temperature, dimensional stability, and high flexibility, among others. Some of the end-use applications of advanced material markets are in aerospace, electronics and semiconductor, automotive, and medical devices. Advanced composites can be segmented (on the basis of their matrix phase) into ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), polymer matrix composites (PMCs) and metal matrix composites (MMCs).Europe is the largest market for advanced materials, due to rampant growth of various end-use industries in the region. North America is estimated to be the fastest growing region in the advanced materials market, followed by Asia Pacific, mainly due to major investments in R&D by major players, rampant demand for high-tech materials across various sectors in the region and growing concerns about environmental safety. For example, advanced materials are used in wastewater treatment due to features such as enhanced redox, strong adsorption, and photocatalytic properties. Polyvinyl chloride membrane reactor works as an advanced material that helps in ground water safety by removal of nitrate.  

Extensive R&D in the field of advanced materials has led to the development of an enhanced range of advanced materials. Some of the newly developed products in the advanced materials market are superior strength polymers (PPS, PEEK, and Radel), fiber-polymer composites (epoxy lytex glass), and aluminum with silicon carbide or boron fiber whiskers. Other types of advanced materials include metallic glasses, pyrolytic graphite, hard coatings (titanium nitride, titanium aluminum nitride), doped mediums, and optical modulators among others.

Some of the major factors driving growth of the global advanced materials market are rising demand for lightweight vehicles in order to increase fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions, and increasing demand for graphene as an advanced material. Graphene has various highly sought after features such as being a material that is thin and strong, transparent and pliable, superior conductor of electricity and heat, and high frequency. This has led to its wide application in various sectors which is expected to drive growth of the global advanced materials market over the forecast period (2016–2024).

Advanced Materials–Regulatory Scenario

Various government regulations are in place across the globe pertaining to production, usage and export/import of advanced materials. For example, manufacturers and end users in the advanced materials market must take into account standardized rules and regulations defined by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for graphene production and usage. Also, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that regulates the usage of carbon nanotubes. The Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 provides the safety guidelines for advanced packaging materials especially used in food packaging. The Directive 84/500/EEC provides the EU laws on advanced ceramic materials which come into contact with food items.

Increasing demand for lightweight vehicles is expected to drive growth of the advanced materials market over the forecast period. Lightweighting is a trend in the automotive sector as it allows superior fuel efficiency, improved safety, and greater overall performance of the vehicles. According to Scientific American (a leading science magazine), fuel economy of a car increases by 6 to 8% by decreasing its weight by one tenth. For example, Nissan significantly reduced weight of its 2016 model cars such as Altima, Frontier, and JUKE, among others. There is a misconception that lightweight vehicles are not as safe as heavy vehicles, which, previously was posing a challenge to the growth of the lightweight vehicles market. However, over the years the general conception regarding safety issues of lightweight vehicles has changed, thanks to newly developed lightweight vehicles offering enhanced safety. Newly developed advanced materials (carbon, aluminum, and magnesium composites) provide lightweight vehicles with greater safety features. Some of the newly developed cars that are manufactured using advanced materials are BMW and BMW i8. The passenger cell of these cars is made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) which is very strong yet 50% lighter than steel. According to Coherent Market Insights, the global sales of passenger cars were pegged at 73.9 million in 2015 which has created a highly conducive environment for growth of the advanced materials market.

Some of the factors restraining the growth of the advanced materials market are high price, complex fabrication, and low availability of advanced materials. Production and usage of advanced materials require experienced professionals and extensive and continuous research which, in turn would result in high investments. Some of the emerging technologies that could boost market growth during the forecast period are expandable polymer technology, which is projected to have a significant positive impact on advanced electronics. Also, bio-based polycarbonate is also expected to gain significant traction in the energy and gas sector over the forecast period. Some of the major companies operating in the global advanced materials market are Akzo Nobel, 3M Company, BASF, Dow Chemical, and Momentive Performance Materials Inc.

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