Expanded Graphite Market – Snapshot
Expanded graphite, also known as expandable flake, or intumescent flake graphite, is a type of intercalated graphite, which exfoliates or expands when heated. Expanded graphite is manufactured by treating flake graphite with diverse intercalation reagents such as acids, which are likely to move between the graphite layers in the presence of heat. When flake graphite, after the intercalation process, is heated at high temperatures (around 1000ºC), the intercalation compounds break down into gaseous products, which increase the pressure between the graphene layers.
This high pressure generates enough force, which pushes apart the graphite planes. This results in an increase of around 300 times in the volume of the graphite, huge increase in surface area, and also reduces the bulk density of graphite. Moreover, the coarser flake graphite has comparatively higher expansion ratio than smaller flake graphite, and not all graphite are expandable. Expandable graphite has several unique properties such as high corrosion resistance, heat resistance, radiation resistance, compression resilience, and softness.
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Rise in concerns about building fires is a primary driver of the expanded graphite market. A large number of building fires have occurred in recent years, which has led to notable tragedies. These fires not only destroy property but also lead to loss of lives and do considerable damage to the environment also. Government and regulatory authorities across the globe are formulating regulations mandating the usage of fire-resistant building materials for construction of residential and non-residential buildings in order to reduce these fires. Demand for residential and non-residential construction is also rising owing to the increasing population, which in turn is fuelling the demand for fire-resistant building materials in order to make these buildings fireproof and more fire-resistant. Expanded graphite plays an essential role and is an important component in the manufacturing of fire-resistant building materials. Therefore, the increase in demand for fire-resistant building materials from the construction segment is likely to drive the market during the forecast period.
Demand for consumer electronic goods such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets is rising at a substantial pace. These electronic devices employ graphite foils manufactured from expanded graphite. Graphite foils have excellent electric and thermal conductivity; hence, they dissipate heat from crucial electronic components and protect them from any damage.
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Increasing bans on hazardous fire-resistant materials such as brominated or asbestos-based fire-resistant materials in buildings, gaskets, and other products that require fire-resistant materials are likely to provide new opportunities to the expanded graphite market. Several countries have banned the manufacture of these hazardous fire-resistant materials owing their ill-effects on the environment and human health & life. These bans are likely to provide considerable opportunity for non-toxic and high fire-resistant expanded graphite in the near future.
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Based on region, the global expanded graphite market can be segmented into North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Middle East & Africa. Asia Pacific dominated the global expanded graphite market in 2017. This can be primarily ascribed to the high demand for expanded graphite products, especially in building construction, foundry, and energy storage applications in the region, especially in China. The region is the global leader in the production of expanded graphite and in graphite mining output. Furthermore, the market in the region is anticipated to expand at a significant pace during the forecast period, primarily due to the rise in demand for expanded graphite in developing countries in the region, especially in China and India.