Introduction to Silica Gel Industry Silica gel, also known as silicic acid gel, is a highly active adsorption material, which is an amorphous substance. Its main component is silica, which is chemically stable and does not burn. According to its properties and components, silica gel can be divided into organic silica gel and inorganic silica gel.
The silica gel industry refers to industries related to the production and application of silica gel. The upstream of the silica gel industry chain is mainly the silica gel raw material and silica gel production equipment industries. The production equipment is mainly silica gel molding equipment. The middle reaches of the silica gel industry chain is the silicone product manufacturing industry. Downstream of the chain is the application area of silicone products. From the perspective of application fields, a wide range of silicone products are widely used in almost all industries such as construction engineering, textiles, electronics, transportation, petrochemicals, aerospace, new energy, medical, machinery, papermaking, daily chemicals and personal care products. Fields and high-tech fields have become indispensable high-performance materials for modern industry and daily life.
The industry is currently in a period of vigorous development. my country has started the research and industrial production of silica gel products in 1951, and initially mastered the technology of agitated bed synthesis of methyl monomers in the late 1950s. Since the end of the 1950s, my country’s silica gel industry has continued to develop fluidized bed technology while continuing to improve the stirred bed technology. Entering the 21st century, as domestic enterprises continue to improve their processes, increase and expand equipment, the production situation continues to improve. At the same time, the rapid development of my country's national economy has become a strong driving force for the development of the silicone industry. The country has successively introduced a series of policies to support the development of the industry, and my country's silicone has entered a period of vigorous development.
Organic silica gel products account for over 80% of China’s silica gel products are dominated by organic silica gel. In 2019, China’s inorganic silica gel output was about 350,000 tons, accounting for only 17%, and the organic silica gel output was about 1.76 million tons, accounting for 83%. . Among the organic silicone products, silicone rubber and silicone oil accounted for the largest proportion, 56% and 18% respectively.
Sufficient supply of raw materials upstream of the industry chain Organic silica gel accounts for the largest proportion of silica gel, and the supply of its raw materials has the greatest impact on the silica gel industry. Therefore, the most important raw materials in the upstream raw material market of the silica gel industry are silicone monomers and silicone intermediates. (1) Organosilicon monomer production capacity and output According to statistics from Zhuo Chuang Information, China's organosilicon monomer production capacity continued to expand from 2013 to 2018. In 2018, China's organosilicon monomer production capacity remained at 3.09 million tons/year; Since 2019, with the successive commissioning of new organic silicon monomer production capacity, the production capacity of organic silicon monomer has increased in 2019. According to statistics from Baichuan Yingfu, by the end of 2019, China's organic silicon monomer production capacity reached 3.28 million tons/year. (Including foreign capital and joint venture capacity)
According to statistics from Zhuo Chuang Information, the output of organic silicon monomers in China continued to expand from 2013 to 2015. In 2016, the output of organic silicon monomers decreased due to the impact of environmental inspections. The output of organic silicon monomers rebounded in 2017-2018, and the output of organic silicon monomers in 2018 was 2.3 million tons. According to statistics from Baichuan Yingfu, China's organic silicon monomer production reached 2.31 million tons in 2019.
(2) Silicone intermediate production capacity and output Polysiloxane composed of silicon-oxygen bonds as the skeleton accounts for more than 90% of the total amount of silicone. In a narrow sense, the silicone intermediate material mainly refers to polysiloxane. According to the statistics of the National Silicon Industry Green Development Strategic Alliance (SAGSI), as of the end of 2018, there were 13 methyl monomer manufacturers in China (including the Dow-WACK Zhangjiagang plant), with a total production capacity of 1.415 million tons of polysiloxane per year. (The production capacity is 1.307 million tons/year). In 2019, the production capacity of polysiloxane was 1.423 million tons/year.
At the same time, according to the statistical data of the National Silicon Industry Green Development Strategic Alliance (SAGSI), China's polysiloxane production continued to grow from 2010 to 2019. In 2019, China's polysiloxane production reached 1.18 million tons, an increase of 4.42% year-on-year.
The downstream application areas of the industrial chain are broad (1) Inorganic silica gel has the characteristics of strong adsorption, which can quickly and effectively adsorb the moisture in the sealed package, stable chemical properties, non-toxic and harmless; continuous innovation and development, various inorganic silica gels have been It is widely used in drug purification, DNA separation, food drying, high-precision electronics, high-grade cosmetics, sewage purification, beer purification, high-grade paint, and resin production or preservation. In our daily life and production and business activities, inorganic silica gel is often used in the following aspects:
At present, the largest proportion of organic silicone consumption in my country is in the fields of construction, electronic appliances, electricity and new energy, medical treatment and personal care. It is estimated that in the next 5 years, among the many downstream application fields of organic silica gel, construction, electronics, textiles, and personal care will still be the main application fields of organic silica gel. The market demand for organic silica gel in energy-saving and environmental protection industries such as photovoltaics and new energy will be To maintain medium-to-high-speed growth, the construction of ultra-high voltage and UHV power grids, 3D printing, smart wearable devices and other emerging fields will be one of the future market growth points and breakthrough points for organic silicone.
The scale of industry imports and exports has decreased According to the statistics of the General Administration of Customs, the import volume, export volume and net export volume of silica gel from 2017 to 2019 experienced a process of rising first and then falling. In 2019, my country's silica gel imports were 4,695.75 tons, and exports were 120,550.19 tons, achieving a net export of 115,854.44 tons. From January to May 2020, my country’s silica gel imports amounted to 1873.18 tons and the export amount was 49889.53 tons, achieving a net export of 48016.35 tons.
High import dependence of high-end products From the perspective of industry import and export product prices, although my country has achieved net exports of silica gel, high-end products still rely heavily on imports. In 2019, the average unit price of China's silica imports was US$3.46/kg, and the average unit price of exports was US$0.99/kg. The unit price of imports was much higher than the unit price of exports.
The industry has a large room for growth In the future, benefiting from the continuous expansion of the application range of silica gel and the huge demand potential of emerging market countries, the consumption of silica gel will continue to grow at a medium-to-high speed. Taking silicone as an example, according to the German WACKER annual report, per capita silicone consumption is basically proportional to the per capita GDP level, and the growth of silicone demand in low-income countries is more elastic to income growth. At present, the per capita consumption of organic silicon in my country is about 0.7kg, while the developed countries and regions such as Europe, the United States and Japan are close to 2.0kg. my country's per capita consumption of organic silicon still has much room for improvement. The increase in per capita consumption of silicones has driven the growth of the silicone market.