While market demand has not matched the considerable hype that nanotechnology has generated over the past decade and a half, nanomaterials have managed to attain an appreciable commercial presence in recent years. Global nanomaterial demand will continue to rise, posting robust 21 percent annual gains to $3.6 billion in 2013. By 2025, nanomaterials are expected to reach over $34 billion in sales, having still only scratched the surface of their immense market potential. While the outlook for nanomaterials is generally bright, a number of potential complications exist. In some instances, technical issues such as agglomeration of nanotubes in plastic composites are still a challenge. Concerns about the safety and environmental effect of nanomaterials may be impediments to commercial success. These and other trends are presented in World Nanomaterials, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry research firm.
Many of the initial uses for nanomaterials that have had the greatest commercial impact have involved relatively low-tech materials and applications. These include nanoscale versions of conventional materials, including silica, alumina, titanium dioxide, clays and metals such as gold and silver. In the next decade or two, however, some of the relatively novel nanomaterials, particularly carbon nanotubes, will account for a larger share of overall nanomaterial demand.
Health care was the second largest market for nanomaterials in 2008, but is expected to overtake electronics as the leading outlet in 2013 and beyond. Nanomaterial-based pharmaceuticals, which include nanoscale drug delivery systems as well as nanosized drug active ingredients, have enjoyed a significant degree of commercial success to date. In the future, it is expected that nanomaterials will expand from pharmaceuticals into other medical product and health care applications, including diagnostics, imaging and dental care.
In 2008, the nanomaterial market was overwhelmingly concentrated in the developed world. The US and Japan combined to account for over half of world demand, while Western Europe and two high-income Asian nations, Taiwan and South Korea, represented an additional 34 percent. By 2025, it is expected that China will rise to overtake Japan as the second largest market for nanomaterials in the world behind the United States, accounting for twelve percent of global demand.
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