The global needle coke market is projected to expand at a CAGR of 4.8% from 2018 to 2026, according to a new research report titled ‘Needle Coke Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast, 2018–2026’ by Transparency Market Research (TMR). According to the report, the global needle coke market is expected to reach 1.43 million tons by 2026 in terms of volume. The global needle coke market is driven by expansion in the graphite electrode manufacturing industry. The needle coke market in Asia Pacific is estimated to expand at a CAGR of more than 5.0% during the forecast period owing to the presence of a large number of manufacturers of graphite electrode in the region. In terms of grade, the super premium segment held significant share of the market in 2017.
Rise in demand for super premium grade needle coke for graphite electrodes due to its low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE)
Based on grade, the needle coke market has been divided into intermediate, premium, and super premium. Production of petroleum derived needle coke involves specific feedstock, calcination settings, and coking environments. The hardware apparatuses engaged are similar to that of conventional delayed coker unit. The sulfur content in super premium grade is less than 0.01%/w and super premium grade has the lowest coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), which makes it more suitable for the production of high grade graphite electrodes that can withstand higher temperatures and have high thermal factor. Thus, super premium needle coke is an ideal choice of graphite electrode manufacturers.
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Cyclic fluctuations in prices of needle coke
China’s decision to shut down carbon industries in mid-2017 had adverse impact on needle coke manufacturers. At the same time, the decision of major manufacturers to cut down production capacities in order to maintain profit margin led to supply deficit. By the fourth quarter of 2017, the prices of needle coke rose very high, increasing by seven times the prices in 2016. Major players are expanding their production capacities to increase their market share.
Several players have announced plans to build new EAF steel plants. This is anticipated to boost the demand for graphite electrodes. This, in turn, is estimated to increase the demand for needle coke. China is expanding its graphite electrode production. It is likely to lower imports by the end of 2021. The market is estimated to be flooded with oversupply of graphite electrodes and needle coke by the first quarter of 2022 due to the significant increase in production capacities. Thus, the prices are likely to be cyclic; they are expected to decrease from 2022.
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Graphite electrode application to dominate the global needle coke market
Based on application, the needle coke market has been segregated into graphite electrode, lithium ion batteries, and others. The graphite electrode segment holds the major share of the needle coke market. This trend is likely to continue throughout the forecast period. However, the usage of needle coke is rising in the manufacture of lithium ion batteries owing to the increase in demand for electric vehicles. This is expected to augment the demand for needle coke for lithium ion batteries in the near future.