Continuous basalt fibers are fibers manufactured by heating and processing basalt rocks. Basalt, a volcanic rock is abundantly available across the globe in earth’s crust and ocean beds and is the only raw material employed in manufacturing of these fibers. Continuous basalt fibers have similar physical characteristics as glass fibers but possess higher tensile strength, durability and are also inert to various acids, salts and alkalis. On account of its superior physical properties and easy renewability, continuous basalt fibers are an effective substitute for glass & carbon fibers, asbestos, nylon, and steel among others. The major applications of continuous basalt fibers include molded materials, transportation, electronics, building & construction and other applications such as sports equipments, aviation, and defense among others.
The demand for continuous basalt fiber is driven mainly on account of its superior physical properties over its traditional substitutes such as glass fiber and steel. However, high technological cost of these fibers has restrained the market growth. With increasing research & development activities, the cost is expected to reduce in the near future thus driving market growth in the near future. Continuous basalt fibers are employed in the production of various components of wind turbines including blades. Thus increasing threat of energy crisis coupled with government policies to promote the use of wind energy is expected to emerge as a major growth opportunity for the industry.
Continuous basalt fiber can be processed to have higher tensile strength than steel and are chemically inert hence doesn’t rust thus increasing durability of structures. In 2012, 37% of the global consumption of continuous basalt fiber was employed for building & construction applications which emerged as the largest application segment for these fibers. Exponentially increasing e-waste is expected to drive the demand for renewable products in electronic applications. On account of which, electronics is expected to be the fastest growing application segment for continuous basalt fibers during the forecast period. Electronic application segment is expected to reach 3,916.1 tons by 2019 at an estimated CAGR of 12.8% from 2013 to 2019. Transportation application segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.0% in terms of revenue from 2013 to 2019. Demand for other niche application segments is mainly driven by innovation and research & development. The market for other application segment was valued at USD 5.4 million in 2012 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.1% between 2013 and 2019.
North America accounted for the largest market share of continuous basalt fibers with around 39% of the global volume consumption in 2012. In North America, the demand for continuous basalt fibers is expected to be mainly driven by the growing demand in the transportation segment. In the Asia Pacific region, the demand is mainly driven by high GDP growth rate leading to growth in various application segments such as construction, electronics and others. In recent times, China has emerged as the leading exporter of continuous basalt fiber with several companies expanding their production capacities to meet the global and domestic demand. Europe was the second largest consumer of continuous basalt fiber. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.1% mainly owing to the increasing demand from the electronics application segment.
Basalt has been known to mankind for decades however owing to high cost of production basalt was initially employed only for defense applications. On account of which major researches done were classified and other economic substitutes such as glass fiber were discovered. Hence investment in the industry has been significantly low. However recent technological advancements have reduced the manufacturing cost and the market is attracting high level of investments. Some of the major global players include Kamenny Vek, Technobasalt LLC, Sudaglass Fiber Technology, and Basaltex NV among others.