Flake graphite is a type of natural graphite. It is a common variety of natural graphite and are mined in the U.S., Central America, Canada, South America, Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Africa, and China. Commercial flake graphite is available in sizes such as +50-mesh, +100-mesh, and -100-mesh and offered in different ranges of purity from around 80% carbon to 99% carbon.
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Flake graphite is used in anodes of lithium ion batteries, which are used in electric vehicles. Growing demand for electric vehicles market is driving growth of the global flake graphite market. According to International Energy Association, number of electric cars sold in 2016, was 750 thousand, worldwide. Moreover, China was the largest electric cars market in 2016, and accounted for over 40% of the electric cars sold, globally.
Flake graphite is used in energy application such as fuel cells, vanadium-redox battery technology, and pebble-bed nuclear reactors. Growing energy industry is propelling growth of the flake graphite market, owing to flake graphite’s wide applications. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, world energy consumption was 575 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2015, which is estimated to reach 736 quadrillion Btu in 2040.
North America held significant market share in the global graphite market in 2017, owing to demand for flake graphite in lubricants, steelmaking, and refractory applications among others. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, natural graphite was not produced in the U.S. in 2017, however the firms operating in the U.S. consumed 24,000 tons of graphite valued at US$ 42.9 million in the same year. During 2017, the U.S. natural graphite imports were 50,000 tons out of which 75% was flake and high quality graphite.
Growing demand for lithium ion batteries in North America is fuelling growth of the flake graphite market. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 80% of the installed energy and power capacity of large scale battery storage in operation in the U.S. was lithium ion in 2016.
Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest growing flake graphite market during the forecast period, owing to increasing demand of graphite flakes from emerging economies such as India and China. Favorable government policies is encouraging adoption of electric vehicles, which in turn is increasing demand for graphite flake for producing lithium ion batteries required for such vehicles. For instance, the government of China exempted electric vehicles from purchase tax between 2012 and 2017, which has extended till 2020.
Players operating in the flake graphite market are adopting various business strategies including mergers and acquisitions for business expansion. For instance, in December 2017, Westwater Resources, Inc. planned to acquire Alabama Graphite Corp., a mineral exploration and development company involved in flake graphite mining.
Key players operating in the global flake graphite market include GrafTech International Ltd., AMG Advanced Metallurgical Group N.V., Asbury Carbons, Kaiyu Industrial (Hk) Limited, Mason Graphite Inc., Triton Minerals Ltd., and Northern Graphite Corporation.
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