NEWS RELEASE                                                                            DECEMBER 2016

Water Treatment Chemicals Market is Growing Faster than GDP

The expansion of municipal drinking and wastewater treatment in Asia is one of the driving forces which will ensure that growth in the water treatment chemicals market will exceed the rise in GDP.  The 2017 market is forecast at $27 billion.  This is the latest forecast in N026 Water and Wastewater Treatment Chemicals: World Market.  Corrosion inhibitors will be the leading product segment.

Subject 2017
 Total  27,585
 Activated Carbon  772
 Chelants  663
 Corrosion Inhibitors  6,111
 Defoamers  608
 Inorganic Flocculants  3,459
 Ion Exchange  903
 Odor Control  956
 Organic Flocculants  4,497
 Other  1,389
 Oxidizers & Biocides  2,993
 pH Adjusters  1,486
 Scale Inhibitors  3,748

Water treatment chemicals are part of a larger category labeled specialty chemicals or performance chemicals.  The market for this broader category is $1 trillion per year. Large players include Dow Chemical, BASF, Bayer, INEOS Group and DuPont.

The major markets for specialty chemicals are:

  • Agrochemicals
  • Polymers & Plastic Additives
  • Construction Chemicals
  • Electronic Chemicals
  • Cleaning Chemicals
  • Surfactants
  • Lubricants & Oilfield Chemicals
  • Specialty Coatings
  • Paper & Textile Chemicals
  • Food Additives
  • Adhesives & Sealants

The major revenue producers in the water treatment chemicals market are formulators such as Ecolab (Nalco) and GE Water (Betz).  They in turn are buying the specialty chemicals which they then mix and sell along with service expertise.

A number of acquisitions have taken place in the industry in recent years. In the most recent announcement, Lanxess AG agreed to buy U.S. competitor Chemtura Corp. for about $2.1 billion in cash, more than doubling the size of its additives business and accelerating a shift towards specialty chemicals. Chemtura sales are €1.5 billion with a pretax EBITA of €245 million.  Chemtura sells bromine directly to some large customers but is also a supplier to formulators such as Ecolab. GE is planning to divest its water business.  This includes the Betz water treatment chemicals.  The sale of this group will have an impact on the market going forward.  The divestiture target date is mid-2017.

The forecasts do not include the pH adjusters used in scrubbers. There is a very large market for lime and sodium compounds sold to power plants and other industrial emitters.  Lime and limestone react with SO2 to form gypsum. Much of the world’s gypsum wallboard is made with flue gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum.

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