16 June 2010 17:31 [Source: ICIS news]
BERLIN (ICIS news)--Annual global polycarbonate (PC) demand growth for 2010 and beyond will be 6%, Hermann-Josef Dorholt, senior vice president of Bayer MaterialScience, said on Wednesday.
“Future growth will be 6%. This is very good, it’s double GDP. It’s showing PC is coming back and will be strong in the future,” Dorholt said, speaking at the 6th ICIS World Phenol Acetone conference in Berlin.
Long-term growth would come predominantly from the electrical and IT, automotive, and construction industries, buoyed by new applications and growth in the Asian polycarbonate market, according to Dorholt.
“In the global PC market now, 60% of demand is coming out of Asia Pacific. By 2013, it will be two-thirds of demand,” Dorholt said.
At the same time, he added, the number of automobiles in the world would rise from 600m to 2.7bn by 2050. Although appearing a long way off, Dorholt stressed the importance of planning for this now.
“We build capacity over decades, so we need to keep these figures in mind,” he said.
Dorholt also pointed to double-digit growth in the downstream liquid-crystal display (LCD) television market, and areas of growth in construction and automotives, such as architectural glazing, safety glasses for building workers, the substitution of glass for polycarbonate in windshields, usage of polycarbonate in car dashboards and combining car paint resins with injection moulding to provide cost savings.
Much of the growth in automotive areas was for more sustainable, durable and lightweight alternatives to glass, which would cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, providing a ‘greener’ alternative.
“There’s a lot of support from the public over CO2 reductions,” he said.
Automotive glazing was seen as a long-term growth area.
“It takes a long time to get PC into auto glazing; we’ve had some success now though. We’re intensively doing prototypes at the moment. It will ramp up in the next 5-10 years,” Dorholt said.
The only area of downstream polycarbonate demand that was not likely to grow was the optical data sector, which he said peaked in 2006-2007. This was due to changing consumer tastes, with people switching to things such as digital music downloads rather than compact discs, he added, although Blu-ray discs were preventing some of the global deterioration in the optical media sector.
“There’s now negative growth [for worldwide optical media]. It’s shrinking 3-6% per year,” Dorholt said.
The growth in PC demand would necessitate investment in new phenol plants, Dorholt went on to say, particularly in Asia, where the strongest growth was predicted.
“We need really reliable feedstock supply, this is a basic requirement... we will need lots of phenol growth in the future,” he said.
Phenol is the raw material for bisphenol A (BPA), which in turn is the feedstock for PC.
The European PC market has been in tight supply throughout the second quarter, due to the low availability of BPA, which was caused by production problems in the upstream phenol market.
($1 = €0.81)
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