Expected surge in demand for polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) as 5G develops 05-08-2020

PTFE is expected to obtain new market opportunities and bring about market growth with its outstanding physical and chemical properties as the 5G communication industry develops.

 

A fluoropolymer is a product that is chemically developed to a high level of efficiency and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) has become the fluoropolymer whose production and consumption has increased most rapidly out of all fluoropolymers due to the its wide variety of newly developed applications. From a demand perspective, due to the emergence of the worldwide 5G market, PTFE has recently been sought out for use in high frequency copper plates, radio frequency cables, base station antenna filters, and other related components. Furthermore, Tesla’s launch of dry electrode technology based ultra-high nickel anode lithium battery technology has not only brought about revolutionary changes in the lithium battery industry, but it is also expected to bring about a large increase in the demand of PTFE binder. Previously, the main obstacle to progress in China’s material industry was that advanced materials were mainly used in applications aimed at the local development of China. However, as China aims to become a worldwide leader in the areas of 5G and lithium batteries, the Chinese material industry plans to expand its market for advanced materials. And closely connected with these two areas of development is the “king of plastics” PTFE.

China leads PTFE production, but mainly produces low-end products

The worldwide PTFE industry has experienced frequent merging and reorganization throughout the years, and the current level of competition in the industry is fairly stable, and the major producers of PTFE outside of China are the American company DuPont, the French company Arkema, and the Japanese companies Daikin, AGC Inc., and Kureha Ecology Management Co. Ltd. Due to breakthrough developments in Chinese fluorination technology during the last twenty years. However, as well as advantages regarding fluorite resources and end markets, PTFE production has gradually moved from other countries into China. During 2019, China produces approximately 140,000 tons of PTFE, which accounted for over 40% of all PTFE produced worldwide. However, from a production structure perspective, China mainly produces low-end injection molding products and demand for PTFE products in China has been slow to increase. Data shows that rate at which PTFE products were used in China has consistently maintained a level below 70%, and many high-end PTFE products were imported from other countries.


The supply of PTFE in China has been relatively high since the end of 2015, with one reason being the price difference between PTFE dispersion resin and R22 raw materials. However, from a supply perspective, PTFE requires upstream distribution of T22 and hydrofluoric acid, which often leads to byproduct waste disposal problems. Therefore, recent environmental protection efforts have limited the production of new PTFE materials, which has limited the operations of PTFE-producing businesses and the elasticity of supply.


Chemical properties of PTFE are well-suited for diverse applications

Fluoropolymers are a type of macromolecular polymer in which hydrogen atoms are either partially or entirely replaced by fluorine atoms and carbon-carbon bonds. Fluorine atoms have relatively low molecular polarizability, the strongest electronegativity of any atom, a short van der Waals radius, and therefore, fluoropolymers which contain carbon-fluorine bonds often possess many advantages compared to other common polymers. For instance, fluoropolymers often have good heat insulation, low corrosiveness, high weather fastness, resistance to dissolution, low flammability, high optical transparency, low friction, a low index of refraction, low surface energy, resistance to water, and strong anti-oxidation.


For more information on China’s fluoride market, please check our China Fluoride materials monthly report or email emarket1@cnchemicals.com. 

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