Silicone Lube Demand to Hit $250M

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U.S. demand for silicones in lubricant and grease applications will rise over 5 percent per year through 2014 to $250 million, Freedonia Group predicts.

In volume terms, U.S. silicone demand for lubricants will grow 4.8 percent annually to 76 million pounds by 2014, driven by a rebound in machinery production, according to the new study, Silicones, from the Freedonia Group.

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While machinery production is the largest U.S. market for silicone lubricants and greases, other growing markets include motor vehicles and power generation equipment. Growth is also expected in the personal lubricant market.

Silicone-based lubricants are typically used in the maintenance of industrial machinery, including food processing, and in motor vehicles, due to their effectiveness over a wide temperature range, excellent thermal and oxidation stability, low flammability, and compatibility with a variety of surfaces such as metal and rubber. They are also used in textile applications to eliminate friction and fabric drag.

In heat transfer applications, silicone fluids provide superior oxidation resistance, withstand temperature extremes, and are durable and stable. Advances in heat transfer applications, however, will be somewhat restrained by competition with lower-cost materials, Freedonia noted.

Moderately slower growth is expected in silicone hydraulic fluid applications. Silicone hydraulic fluids are frequently used in aviation, aerospace and similar environments where enhanced fire resistance is essential.

Freedonia summarized its forecast for U.S. silicone demand as follows:

U.S. Silicone Lube & Grease Demand by Application
(in millions of dollars)

1999 2004 2009 2014 2019
Heat transfer fluids

$ 53

53

55

71

83

Dielectric fluids

26

25

26

33

38

Transmission/hydraulic fluids

26

26

26

32

36

Other

88

94

88

114

137

Total lube/grease demand

193

198

195

250

294

Total U.S. Silicone Demand
(all applications)

2405

2604

2780

3600

4400

Source: The Freedonia Group, Inc.

Total U.S. silicone demand for lubricants and greases in 2009 was about 60 million pounds, at an average $3.25 per pound. Freedonia predicts demand in 2014 will reach 76 million pounds, at $3.30 per pound. By 2019, the market research firm forecasts demand of 85 million pounds, at $3.45 a pound.

The 246-page study, Silicones, is available from Freedonia Group, Cleveland, Ohio, for $4,700. More information is available at www.freedoniagroup.com.

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