High purity alumina (HPA) is a high-value, high margin and highly demanded product used primarily to manufacture industrial sapphire substrates in electronics, production of synthetic sapphire, LED lighting applications, in plasma display panels such as those found in handheld devices, laptops, televisions, and cellular phones.
HPA is mainly used for its superior properties, such as corrosion and scratch resistance, high brightness, and its ability to withstand extreme temperatures. The high-purity alumina market is driven by several factors such as growing demand for LED lighting systems and LED displays. Products that use LEDs are energy efficient and is driving the demand for high-purity alumina, which is used in the manufacturing of sapphire substrates.
The increasing use of sapphire glass in high-end smartphones would propel the demand for high purity alumina during the forecast period. The sapphire substrates have seen a surge in demand for end-products along with LED products, owing to applications as watch cover, front cover in high-end mobile devices, and industrial windows. In the last few years, sapphire has been a key component in the LED industry, with market demand influenced by lens cover applications in digital cameras, home buttons on smartphones, and smart wearables such as the Apple watch. The high purity alumina demand is set to rise sharply on the back of its role in the production of synthetic sapphire, which has a rapidly growing number of high‐technology applications.
The rising demand for high-purity alumina in LEDs is propelled by the growing adoption of LED lighting technology on a global basis. For instance, according to the U.S Department of Energy in 2017, from 2014 to 2016, installations of LED products have increased in all applications, more than quadrupling to 874 million units, increasing penetration to 12.6% of all lighting.
The traditional high-purity alumina production method, which enhances the purity of alumina, results in massive exploration, mining, labor, reagents, and energy costs. High production costs mainly because of the significant amount of electricity consumed during the process. Also, any increase in energy tariff affects a vendor's profit margins. Also, the higher power costs lead to the higher production cost of aluminum, which gets transferred to downstream products i.e. high purity alumina affecting the margins.
High Purity Alumina market is segmented based on the application and technology. Based on the technology the market is further bifurcated into Hydrolysis and Hydrochloric Acid Leaching. Hydrolysis technology holds the largest market share as it is a widely adopted technique to manufacture high purity alumina. Owing to optimal processing that helps in reducing operational cost. Further, the procedure also consumes less energy, increasing cost-saving efforts of the companies, and propelling the adoption of hydrolysis procedure.
Recently, the demand for high purity alumina is expanding in fields which are expected to show a high growth rate, e.g., display materials, energy, automobiles, semiconductors, and computers. To attend to these needs, Sumitomo Chemical established mass production technology of high purity alumina using a unique process of hydrolysis of aluminum alkoxide.
Based on the application, high purity alumina is segmented into LED, Semiconductor, Phosphor, Sapphire, and others. The LED segment is anticipated to hold the largest market share in the high purity alumina market. It is owing to the shift towards LED lighting as compared to traditional lighting. Moreover, stringent regulations across the globe have led to increased penetration of energy efficient light sources such as LED bulbs. Also, increasing per capita consumption of power has boosted the demand for electricity across the globe.
Geographically, the market is divided into North America, Europe, South America, Asia-Pacific and the rest of the world.
Asia Pacific region is the leading geographical segment of the HPA market, driven mainly by the rising demand of high definition television, smartphones, and rising application of electronic sensors and display in automotive in this region. China dominates the high purity alumina market in the Asia-Pacific region, owing to technological advancements made in the electronics sector in this country. Also, China is the major revenue-contributing country for LED due to the presence of a large number of LED lighting manufacturing companies. The companies are focused on the expansion of production capabilities in order to increase production capabilities and to strengthen the regional market position. For instance, in July 2018, Altech Chemicals has announced plans to start construction at its high-purity alumina (HPA) plant site in Johor, Malaysia, with US$ 14.8 Million.
North America is anticipated to emerge as the next biggest market for high purity alumina owing to the growing adoption of smart lighting products in this region which will lead to high demand for LED lights as the region focuses more on energy conservation. In the North America region, The US is the highest contributor to the increasing demand for high purity alumina. For instance, The City of Chicago is installing better quality, more reliable LED light fixtures on streets, alleys and viaducts to increase safety, reduce energy costs and improve the environment.
The High Purity Alumina market is highly consolidated with a few leading players accounting dominating the market. Orbite Technologies Inc. Altech Chemicals Limited, Sumitomo Chemical Company, Sasol Limited, and are prominent players in the high purity alumina market. These players have own one-third of the market of the high purity alumina.
High Purity Alumina manufacturers are adopting acquisitions as a key strategy to expand their product portfolio and increase their presence by business expansion. For instance, in March 2019, Pure Alumina has signed a binding agreement to purchase Pure Alumina a Canadian high-purity alumina (HPA) company for approximately $25.75 Mn. The acquisition will help Pure Alumina start its commercial production by developing a 1000 tonnes a year production facility outside of Toronto by early 2020.
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