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Global Germanium Market: Overview

Germanium is a brittle grayish-white metalloid that exhibits both metallic and non-metallic properties. It is recognized as a rare earth metal. Germanium is mainly used as a semiconductor owing to its electrical properties, low optical dispersion, high refractive index, and transparency to infrared electromagnetic radiation. It is essentially a byproduct of zinc ore processing. The development of germanium transistor has opened the door to countless applications of solid-state electronics, which has provided potential growth opportunities to the germanium market. Moreover, demand for germanium in fiber optics communication networks, infrared night vision systems, and polymerization catalysts increased significantly. These applications represented more than 60% of the global consumption of germanium in 2015. However, high cost, tight supply, and health hazards associated with the product are anticipated to hamper the growth of the global germanium market during the forecast period.

Germanium is recovered as a by-product from sphalerite zinc ores where it is concentrated in amount as high as 0.3%, especially from low-temperature sediment-hosted. Although it is primarily produced from sphalerite, germanium is also found in silver, lead, and copper ores. Another source of germanium is fly ash of power plants, fueled from coal deposits that contain germanium. 

Global Germanium Market: Key Segments

In terms of application, the global germanium market can be divided into optical fibers, infrared optics, solar cells, PET catalysts, and others. The optical fibers segment is anticipated to dominate the global germanium market during the forecast period. Growth of the solar installation market is estimated to drive the global germanium market from 2018 to 2026. Use of germanium substrates in the production of solar energy has increased in the last few years, driven by the advantages associated with the product, such as, low cost and increased efficiency. Germanium substrate material is used for manufacturing of gallium arsenide solar cells. These cells are used for producing concentrated solar power. Germanium is used as the lenses or windows, given its high transparency to infrared radiation in infrared optics applications. Furthermore, germanium is used as a catalyst for the synthesis of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used to manufacture food containers and plastic bottles.

Global Germanium Market: Regional Outlook

In terms of region, the global germanium market can be segregated into North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Middle East & Africa. Asia Pacific dominated the germanium market in 2017. China, Russia, and the U.S. are the leading producers of germanium. Prices of germanium have been increasingly rapidly due to tight supply of the product.  Currently, a major portion of the germanium produced globally is from recycled products. Additionally, due to environmental concerns, several production plants in China had to be shut down temporarily for installation of safety controls. The global germanium market in Europe is anticipated to expand at a remarkable pace from 2018 to 2026 due to the rapid growth of the electronics industry. Latin America and Middle East & Africa also account for prominent shares of the global germanium market. This can be ascribed to the increase in demand for global germanium market in various end-user industries in these regions.

Global Germanium Market: Key Players

Prominent players operating in the global germanium market include Yunnan Chihong Zinc & Germanium Co., Ltd., Shaoguan Smelting Plant, China Germanium Co., Ltd., Yunnan Luoping Zinc & Electricity Co., Ltd., and Yunnan Lincang Xinyuan Germanium Industry Co., Ltd. 

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