Cristobalite is silica (SiO2); however, the crustal structure of cristobalite is distant and therefore known as polymorph of silica. The crystalline structure of cristobalite is octahedral or sometimes occurs as spherulite. The mineral is colorless or sometimes white and exhibits properties similar to that of quartz. Cristobalite has vitreous luster and is used in various industrial applications. It is primarily used as engineering stone and filler. It is also employed in ceramics, glasses, etc. The mineral is found in two variants: low-cristobalite and high cristobalite. Low cristobalite occurs naturally at temperatures up to 270°C and is relatively unstable. High cristobalite occurs at temperatures above 270°C. However, it is stable only at higher temperatures. For the same reason it is difficult to obtain stable cristobalite, usually industrial manufacturing is preferred over naturally occurring cristobalite. Furthermore, akin to quartz, cristobalite exhibits chemical inertness; hence, it is usually used as a filler in many processes and products.
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Cristobalite Market: Market Demand & Trends
The mineral possesses properties such as hardness of 6.5 (Mohs); low density (2.35 g/cm³); significantly high degree of whiteness (color Y > 94); high chemical resistance/inertness; and good thermal coefficient of expansion: 54*10-6K-1 (at a temperature of 20°C to 300°C). Therefore, cristobalite is a preferred choice of material for several applications such as fillers for emulsion-bound paints, coatings, and renders; PMMA engineered stone; composites for dental impression; anti-blocking additive for PE and PP films; silicone sealant compounds; and additives in road marking paints. Demand for paints, coatings, and renders is rising at a rapid pace across the globe. This has significantly boosted the demand for cristobalite as additive and filler. Furthermore, the mineral is used in the manufacture of specialty glasses, glass fibers, ceramics, rubber, and as an abrasive. The versatility of cristobalite along with its superior properties are the key drivers of the global cristobalite market. On the other hand, due to its similar chemical composition and relatively similar physical and chemical properties, cristobalite may be replaced with either quartz or other polymorph. This may affect the demand for cristobalite and restrain its growth.
Cristobalite Market: Key Segments
Based on application, the cristobalite market can be segmented into engineered stone, anti-block agent, filler, glass, investment casting (dental, jewelry, etc.), and others. The filler segment can be further broken down into filler for paints & coatings, adhesives & sealants, polymers, and others. Cristobalite is considered a premium and superior additive for paints & coatings applications. In terms of source, the cristobalite market can be bifurcated into natural cristobalite and synthetic cristobalite. The natural form is difficult to obtain and relatively unstable; therefore, industrially manufactured/synthetic cristobalite is employed in most applications.
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Cristobalite Market: Regional Outlook
Based on geography, the global cristobalite market can be divided into Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. Asia Pacific is a major region of the global cristobalite market, followed by Europe. Cristobalite is primarily used as filler in paints & coatings, plastics and adhesives & sealants. Demand for cristobalite is high in Asia Pacific and Europe, as these regions are among the leading manufacturers of paints and coatings, plastics, and adhesives. Furthermore, glass and ceramics industries have been expanding significantly in Asia Pacific. Thus, demand for cristobalite is high in countries such as China, Japan, India, and Thailand.
Cristobalite Market: Key Players
Key players operating in the global cristobalite market are Sibelco; Quarzwerke Group; Silmer; C.E.D. Process Minerals Inc.; Goldstar Powders; Hoben International Limited; and Lianyungang Changtong Silica Powder Co. Ltd.