The demand for bromine has remained steady with no major upsurge. The reasons for this trend in the bromine market are touted to be many. Bromine has a plethora of applications in both big and small industries and even in some consumer products. Yet, the overall demand for bromine has not risen as much as analysts and industry participants had anticipated. Recent statistics peg the consumption of bromine at 470 kilo metric tons (KMT) in 2015 where as the 2016 figure is estimated at 483 KMT, which is a puny increase over the previous year.
Reduced Demand from Flame Retardants Hurting Global Bromine Market
One of the major applications of bromine is in flame retardants. But the very method that makes bromine effective as a flame retardant also makes it hazardous for human health. This has resulted in flame retardant manufacturers shifting their focus to sustainable and alternative solutions for fire retardants. This has resulted in the descent of the demand for bromine.
Government sanctions against the use of bromine also hurt the market with Europe and the U.S. banning its use in fire retardants. Albemarle Corp., one of the leading HBCD-based (hexabromocyclododecane – a bromine compound) fire retardant manufacturing company made an announcement in May 2016 to cease the production of the flame retardant. This move can be attributed to the reduced demand for the product amidst environmental concerns and in favor of sustainable alternative.
Slowdown in Oil and Gas Drilling Slackens Bromine Market Growth
Another major application of bromine, oil and gas drilling, has also taken a minor hit due to the global slowing down of oil and gas exploration activities. Bromine as a drilling fluid finds reduced application as the world is moving towards alternative energy sources. Nevertheless, the demand for bromine is still going strong in APAC.
With the exception of China, the largest consumer of bromine, the demand from other mature markets has plummeted. Chemtura, a key player in drilling fluid manufacturing and a major consumer of bromine, has reported significant losses in the previous quarter. The company’s Q1 2016 figures recorded a US$101mn operating loss as compared to the Q1 2015 figure of US$29 mn profit.
Pharmaceutical Sector Bears Promise for Global Bromine Market
With the demand for bromine subsiding in two leading sectors, the global market is now turning to the pharmaceutical sector to stay afloat. Though bromine finds application in agriculture, water purification, and photography on a small scale, it is not sufficient to sustain the global bromine market. Healthcare and pharmaceuticals have the potential to sustain the bromine market as the element is widely used to treat pneumonia and cocaine addiction among patients. Several clinical trials currently underway have been studying the use of bromine in the treatment of STDs, AIDS, cancer, and Alzheimer’s – a trend that is giving those involved in the global bromine market a ray of hope.
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Key market players in the global bromine market include Chemtura Corporation, Israel Chemicals Limited, Albemarle Corporation, Hindustan Salts Limited., Tosoh Corporation, Tetra Technologies Inc., Tata Chemicals Limited, and Gulf Resources Inc.
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