Increased use of graphite in the automotive and battery industries is driving demand for graphite. It is used in gaskets, clutch materials, motors, exhaust systems, and cylinder heads, replacing asbestos in brake pads, for example. It is also an element in the manufacture of ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP), which although mainly used in the aerospace and Formula One car industries, is increasingly used in the passenger car industry due to its light weight which helps reduce fuel consumption and CO² emissions.
Asia-Pacific is the largest market for graphite, with use in pebble-bed nuclear reactors, fuel cells, solar power systems, and automotive and aerospace industries. Rising demand for steel and other metals has increased the demand for graphite electrodes in Asia Pacific. China accounts for over 70% share of the world's graphite production. Its government plans to have around five million battery-electric vehicles on the roads by 2020, which is expected to increase demand for graphite during the forecast period.
The sale of plug-in electric vehicles in North America is expected to rise at a CAGR of 30% from 2012 to 2020. The total sales of tablets in the U.S. market grew from 9.7million in 2010 to 40.6million in 2013. This growth is expected to drive demand for lithium-ion batteries, which in turn, is expected to boost demand for graphite in North America. Europe is the second-largest graphite market, as growing use of carbon fibre instead of steel in the automotive and aerospace industries leads to increasing demand. Graphite is also considered as a key material for green technology, as it is widely used in many applications for energy storage, photovoltaics, and in various electronic products.
The graphite market is bifurcated on the basis of form (natural graphite and synthetic graphite). Synthetic graphite is sub-segmented on the basis of form (graphite electrode, carbon fibre, graphite blocks, graphite powder, and others). Graphite market is also segmented on the basis of end-use (electrode, refractory, lubricant, foundry, battery, and others). All the segments provide market size and forecast by volume and by value. The synthetic graphite segment holds the largest share of £12.49billion in the graphite market in 2013 and is expected to reach $16.06billion by 2020 at a CAGR of 3.7% from 2014 to 2020.
In terms of revenue, the global graphite market grew from $12.3billion in 2010 to $13.62billion in 2013 at a CAGR of 3.4%. In terms of volume, the market grew from 2.19million tons (2010) to 2.68million tons in 2013 at a CAGR of 7.1%. The Asia Pacific graphite market increased by 3.8% CAGR from 2010 to reach $9.17billion in 2013.