Although the hype surrounding polymer nanocomposites has been in full-throttle for over a decade, so far the market for these new materials has been relatively slow to develop. However, as commercial interest has moved beyond pilot programs and niche applications, it appears that nanocomposites are finally ready for a breakthrough in markets such as motor vehicles and packaging. By 2011, nanocomposites demand will more than double, reaching 300 million pounds, as per a report by Market Research. Growth will be fueled by declining prices of nanomaterials and composites, as production levels increase and technical issues concerning the dispersion of nanoadditives in the compounds are overcome. By 2025, it is expected that nanocomposites will be a US$9 billion market, with volumes nearing 5 billion pounds.
While thermoplastics currently comprise virtually all demand for nanocomposites, compounds based on thermoset resins will eventually become a substantial part of the market, 20% of demand in 2025. Over the near term, the most rapid gains will be seen in higher-priced resins such as engineering plastics, in applications where the additional cost of nanomaterials is not a critical factor. Looking forward, however, nanocomposites based on commodity plastics, such as polypropylene, polyethylene and PVC, will dominate the market. Among thermosets, nanocomposites will make the strongest impact as enhancements for reinforced polyester and epoxy compounds.