The market for corrosion-resistant materials is currently capacity limited, as supplies of many specialty materials are seriously low or experiencing shortages, according to an online report by McIlvaine Company (www.mcilvainecompany.com), titled “World Market for Your Products.” New applications and growth in demand in Asia are tapping out the supplies of stainless steel, FRP, and other corrosion-resistant materials and fabrications.

McIlvaine says the high cost of new facilities for manufacturing materials is creating a situation where suppliers must attempt to anticipate future demand in an effort to match their expansion efforts to the need for a given material.

According to McIlvaine, the power industry has greatly expanded its purchases of stainless steel, FRP, resin, rubber coatings, and is even making use of glass blocks and ceramic tiles to substitute for less available materials.

Coal-fired power plants are cited as the primary source of the current demand surge for corrosion-resistant materials, as the pollution control equipment used in these facilities requires large quantities of corrosion-resistant vessels, piping, pumps, stacks, and ductwork.

McIlvaine says LNG (liquid natural gas) is a key driver for high demand for low-expansion nickel alloys, which are used to line the tanks that hold the LNG at cryogenic temperatures during the transport process.

Another source of demand is applications for the transport and treatment of water, as the purification of drinking water, the treatment of industrial and municipal effluents, and the desalination of seawater all require corrosion-resistant materials. McIlvaine says there is also extensive use of FRP piping in desalination plants in the Middle East. Stainless steel is required for distillation, as well as reverse-osmosis separation.

According to McIlvaine, many of the metal fabricators that build equipment for the dairy industry and food processing companies are now filling their shops with work from the ethanol industry. Ethanol equipment manufacturers are building storage vessels, heat exchangers, and evaporation equipment from stainless steel. Demand for corrosion-resistant materials in the ethanol industry is expected to grow rapidly over the next decade.

In the microelectronics industry, McIlvaine says corrosion-resistant materials are in demand for ultrapure water systems. PVDF has gained increasing popularity recently as an ultrapure polymer used for the processing of semiconductor and pharmaceutical high-purity fluids. The flat-panel display industry has greatly accelerated its purchases of ultrapure water systems.

China is the leading purchaser of corrosion-resistant materials for industrial applications, according to McIlvaine. Purchases in China are expected to grow at double-digit rates over the next five years. The United States is expected to be the second leading purchaser. McIlvaine says these two countries will account for the majority of purchases of corrosion-resistant materials for coal-fired boilers.