Silica fume is a byproduct extracted during the manufacture of silicon metal and ferrosilicon alloys. Silicon metal is manufactured by heating raw materials such as quartz and carbon in a smelting furnace. Smoke released from this operation is trapped in the bag house filter. It is then extracted and sold as silica fumes. Silica fumes are amorphous in nature. Ultrafine particles of silicon dioxide with a large surface area make up the primary composition of silica fumes.
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Silica fumes are primarily used in concrete. It is used as a pozzolan in concrete due to its physical and chemical properties such as large surface area and highly reactive nature. Large surface area and active chemical properties help silica fumes impart vertical resistance to mammoth construction structures. Furthermore, these fumes impart durability to concrete structures by providing resistance to penetration of salts and their ions. Silica fumes are available in both dry and wet forms. Generally, silica fumes are mixed in the desired proportion in concrete manufacturing plants during the production of concrete.
The construction industry was followed by the marine sector, which was the second-largest end-user of silica fumes. Rising marine activities leads to increase in construction of marine structures such as ports, shipyards, and bridges. Silica fumes are used as admixtures in concrete in these constructions due to their anti-abrasion and anti-permeability characteristics.
Oil and gas are expected to account for the third-largest share of the silica fumes market during the forecast period. Silica fumes provide durability to concrete structures in the oil and gas industry. Silica fumes are primarily used in the construction of pipelines for flow of lubricants and gas and in the construction of boring and drilling wells.
The Middle East & Africa is expected to the fastest-growing market for silica fumes. Extensive investment in construction projects is driving demand for silica fumes. Increasing construction in economies in the Middle East such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia are anticipated to primarily fuel the silica fume market.
However, China and the U.S. are anticipated to be key consumers of silica fumes. These two economies are likely to maintain majority share of the market due to increasing government expenditure in infrastructural development and maintenance activities in the next few years. Additionally, emerging economies in Asia Pacific and Latin America are estimated to augment demand for silica fumes. Rapid industrialization and urbanization in emerging economies such India, Brazil, Indonesia, and Malaysia are projected to propel demand for silica fumes.
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Investment in research and developmental activities for development of innovative products is expected to boost sales revenue of key players. Majority of key players in the market are associated with product improvement and product diversification to ensure competitive edge over other players. Key manufacturers and suppliers of silica fumes include Norchem Inc., Elkem AS, Cement Industries Inc., Dow Corning Corporation, and Wuhan Newreach Microsilica Co., Ltd.
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