Thermic fluids have various applications in number of processes across various industries. These fluids are required to maintain the temperature of the processing machines and carry the heat energy which is produced during the process. Major end use industries where thermic fluids are extensively used include foods and beverages, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, plastics, oil and gas, concentrated solar power (CSP) and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning). Concentrated solar power (CSP) is one of the major applications of thermic fluids and is expected to remain a key focused application among thermic fluid manufacturers owing to growing demand for renewable energy. Thermic fluids play a major role in improving efficiency of CSP plants. A property of thermic fluid, namely heat storage increases the electricity generation capacity of the plant.
Combined with thermal storage, CSP has an advantage of storing the energy that can be used even if the clouds block the sun and also after sunset to generate electricity. CSP plants with storage of six hours can add capacity and operational value of USD 35.80/MWh compared to PV. Some of the plants have incorporated thermal systems already which are expected to grow in future. As the global energy landscape is rapidly developing, the CSP industry is witnessing significant growth leading to increase in demand of thermic fluids. Increasing applications of CSP and its competitive advantages over other renewable energy sources is responsible for CSP’s attractiveness. The U.S. and Spain are leading with rapid development of CSP projects at present and are expected to grow in the near future due to increasing investment in the region. Spain with advantages of resource coupled with favorable policy framework in the region is reached a capacity of 2.3GW in 2013.
Thermic fluids are generally classified as mineral oils, aromatics, glycols and silicones among some others including molten salts & HFPE. Silicone and aromatics are classified under synthetic thermic fluids, while mineral oil thermic fluids are non synthetic thermic fluids. Glycols are commonly based on ethylene and propylene glycol. Each type of fluid can be used in a variety of applications, under different temperatures. The major factor that differentiates these fluids is their life time. Synthetic fluids have a longer life compared to the other thermic fluids and hence are more expensive. As the working temperature range increases, the cost of the thermic fluid also increases. Minerals oils emerged as the leading product segment and accounted for 41.7% of total market volume in 2013. Mineral oils are usually lightly refined and need the least additives to protect from corrosion. However, glycol based thermic fluids are expected to be the fastest growing product segment at an estimated CAGR of 7.9% from 2014 to 2020. Glycol thermic fluids are best suited for low temperature applications up to -50o C. Glycol thermic fluids require additives such as inhibitors for protection from corrosion and longer life of the fluid. With increasing advantages over other types, demand of glycol based thermic fluids is expected to grow in the near future.
Some of the major application segments described in this report include oil & gas, chemical industry, concentrated solar power (CSP), food & beverages, plastics, pharmaceuticals and HVAC among some other. Oil & gas industry emerged as the leading consuming industry for thermic fluids and accounted for 24.1% of total market volume in 2013. Oil & gas was followed by CSP which accounted for 14.5% of total volume in 2013. In addition to being the second largest application market, CSP is expected to be the fastest growing application market for thermic fluids at an estimated CAGR of 8.5% from 2014 to 2020. Regulatory support for food grade thermic fluids is expected to push its demand in the food & beverages industry over the next six years.
Europe was the leading consumer of thermic fluids which accounted for 33.9% of total market volume in 2013. Europe was followed by North America and Asia Pacific both in terms of volume consumed and revenue. However, Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest growing regional market for thermic fluids at an estimated CAGR of 6.9% from 2014 to 2020. Growth of major end use industries such as Oil & gas, chemical, food & beverages and CSP mainly in China and India is expected to boost the regional market. Some of the other regions that are showing development in CSP projects include Middle East and South Africa.
The global market for thermic fluids is highly concentrated with top four companies including Dow Chemical Company, Solutia Inc., ExxonMobil and Shell Chemicals accounting for over 60% of total market in 2013. Other companies operating in the global market include British Petroleum, Paratherm, Chevron Corporation, BASF, Dynalene Inc, Multitherm LLC and Kost USA Inc. among some other companies.
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