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From the Intertech TiO2 Conference, Rosemont, Chicago, April 1992
Let's begin at the very beginning. Why use TiO2? What is it about this one chemical that an entire conference be devoted it, drawing more than a hundred delegates from all six continents? Let's briefly review the key properties of TiO2, the hallmarks of the industry, the manufacturing technology, global demand and finally pricing trends.
From the ABARE Conference, Canberra, Australia, 4 February 1998
Even the most ardent enthusiast could not pretend that titanium is as well known to the general public as, say, carbon, oxygen, aluminium or uranium. Yet, out of the 110 chemical elements of which all matter is composed, titanium is one of the top ten in terms of abundance in the Earth's crust. And most of us are surrounded by significant quantities of titanium (in paints, plastics, decorative laminates, electronic products, food colourings, sunscreens, etc.) in our daily lives.

True, titanium is much less widely used than carbon, hydrogen and oxygen (mainstays of the fuel, petrochemical and food industries), sodium and chlorine (components of salt, important in its own right and as the coping stone of the chloralkali industry), nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur (the fertiliser elements) or the major metallics (iron and aluminium). Even so, in terms of tonnage usage, titanium is well ahead of chromium, nickel, silver, tin and tungsten.

Ores containing aluminium, copper, iron or zinc are mined primarily to satisfy demand for metal, either unalloyed or in combination with additives to create alloys with enhanced properties. Thus, it is mainly trends in the demand for iron and steel that drive the search for and exploitation of iron ore deposits. By contrast, ores containing titanium are mined primarily to satify demand for a chemical product - TiO2.

From "European Coating Journal", June 1996
Admittedly somewhat down the scale from sunshine, the beauties of Nature and enduring human virtues, pigments nevertheless play a tremendously important part in making the world a brighter and more pleasant place to live in. Pigments impart colour in a reproducible and predictable manner. Pigments can also opacify to a greater or lesser extent, i.e. hide the colour or lack of colour of the other components in the paint, ink, rubber, plastic, paper, food or cosmetic product in which the pigments are incorporated. Pigments are clearly associated with an improved "quality of life."
From "Focus on Pigments", October 1998
Everyone thinks they know what is meant by "inflation" even if they lay no claim to expertise in the dismal science of economics. A simple definition might be "the seemingly inexorable decline in the value of money, the rate of that decline being the inflation rate." In fact, of course, manufacturers are continually improving their products, so the bag of pigment that you buy today may indeed cost more than a bag of pigment bought 25 years ago, but today's pigment should be a superior product, with better dispersibility, durability, tinting strength, hiding power, particle size distribution, etc. Moreover, it should be better packaged and more efficiently transported, as well as being accompanied by more informative technical, quality assurance and health and safety datasheets. In short, the cost of living may be going up, but so too is the quality!
From "Coatings Agenda America", 1996/97
Many executives in American paintmaking companies can vividly recall the anguish suffered ten years ago, trying to obtain adequate supplies of TiO2 at reasonable prices. Thee simply was not enough of the "wonder white pigment" to go round and, on a number of occasions between Q3 1984 and Q4 1988 orders for various TiO2 pigment grades were dealt with on an allocation basis, i.e. customers only received 80-90% of the tonnage they had ordered.

Necessity is said to be the mother of invention and certainly the unrequited need for TiO2 pigment gave a tremendous boost to inventors and researchers proposing substitute pigments and extenders - lithopone, calcined kaolin, precipitated calcium carbonate, hollow acrylic polymer beads, micronised synrutile, cristobalite, brucite, et al. For the first time ever, there was a real threat that long-term consumption growth might be threatened by technical substitition.

From "European Coatings Journal", May 1994
Despite the historically low level of prices that have prevailed in recent years, paintmakers still tend to consider titanium dioxide to be a relatively expensive ingredient and use it sparingly. Even so, TiO2 typically represents 10-25% of the total raw material costs of making paint. It must therefore count as a tribute to TiO2's unrivalled characteristics - as an opacifier and as a brilliant white pigment which is stable and safe (for the environment and for human health) - that the paint industry is happy to continue to buy TiO2 in substantial and ever increasing quantities. There are no realistically viable substitutes, nor do there appear to be any poised for introduction on to the market in the foreseeable future. TiO2 currently accounts for more than 90% of the total tonnage of all pigments used in the world paint industry.
From "Environment Matters", February 1990
The TiO2 industry's environmental problems are typically oversimplified. The accepted image is that the industry has two processes - one "good" and one "bad". The "good one" uses modern - 1950s vintage - environmentally friendly chloride-route technology. The "bad one" uses outdated and dirty sulphate-route technology. Understandably, the likes of DuPont, Kerr-McGee, India's KMML and now Tiofine in Holland, have little objection to such a simplistic image. They use exclusively chloride-route technology. But other major players, such as Ishihara Sangyo, Kemira, Kronos, SCM and Tioxide, who operate both routes - chloride and sulphate - face a painfully equivocal image problem. Their obvious defence against environmental criticism of their sulphate operations would be to point out that there are pollution problems and hazards inherent in chloride technology too. But that would only worsen the problem, by highlighting the inescapable conclusion that all TiO2 processes are environmentally hazardous, whatever the production route.
From "Coatings Agenda Asia/Pacific, 1997/98"
Two of the most striking characteristics of any paint are colour and hiding power. Both are essentially determined by the type of pigment incorporated in the paint system. A white pigment reflects most of the white light falling on it; a black pigment absorbs light at all wavelengths of the spectrum; while a coloured pigment selectively absorbs light within certain wavelength bands and reflects a mixture of light of other wavelength bands. Commercial pigments never produce pure colour (light of a single wavelength). For example, phthalocyanine blues nearly always have a greenish cast, but ultramarine pigments tend to give reddish blues. Although this may be annoying for a generation accustomed to "pure colours" obtainable by electronic means (on a computer screen, for example), the nuances that can be achieved by blending different types of pigment provide constant fascination for paintmakers anxious to influence (or keep pace with) shifting customer preferences for fashionable colours.

Opacification is of even greater importance. The opacifying ability of white pigments is achieved mainly by light scattering, while with coloured or black pigments light absorption is the key underlying factor. Pigments can also contribute: ultraviolet protection, corrosion resistance, gloss enhancement, improved rheological properties and other desirable characteristics.

From the Intertech TiO2 Pre-Conference Seminar, Vancouver, 28 April 1997
Over the past twenty years, public demand for improved quality of life has entailed the enactment of increasingly stringent environmental and health/safety legislation. These trends have benefitted TiO2, playing to its virtues as a non-toxic material in contrast to pigments based on lead and other heavy metals. On a smaller scale, greater public awareness of health and pollution have boosted the usage of TiO2 for denitration catalysts and for protection against ultraviolet radiation.

However, green lobbyists have also focussed attention on manufacturers' waste disposal practices and forced a number of far-reaching changes. Feedstock producers and TiO2 end-users have also been forced to take more account of environment matters, including radioactivity, energy conservation, despoliation of sites of oiutstanding natural beauty, etc.

From "Coatings Agenda America", 1999/2000
Rampant price inflation has been virtually killed off throughout the Americas and the prices of most pigments are falling. TiO2 suppliers raised prices sharply last year and thereby maybe sowed the seeds of distrust of the industry's consolidation moves.
From "International Carbon Black Directory: Market Outlook & Review", 1999
More than 6 million tonnes per annum of carbon black are produced and consumed in the world, making carbon black one of the top 25 large-volume industrial chemicals. Carbon black is also one of the oldest materials known to mankind. Some 500 years ago, the ancient Chinese and Egyptian civilisations were making carbon black from resins, vegetable oils and asphalt and using it for their paints and inks. In Roman times - about 2000 years ago - the works of Marcus Vitruvius Pollo on building science and materials include a detailed description of the production of carbon black from pine resin in a brick-lined furnace and methods for mixing it with glue to make stucco for covering walls. About 500 years ago, in order to meet the surging denand for black pigment required for printing inks, a number of small-scale units were established in Europe for making carbon black by this same method - the "lampblack process."

Carbon black remains one of the most important pigment materials today, but the main reason why it is used on such a substantial scale is because of its role as an active functional filler or reinforcement material, reducing the stickiness and enhancing the physical properties of rubber. It has been demonstrated that incorporating carbon black into the tread compound of a tyre extends the life of the tyre from 8000 kilometres on average (without carbon black) up to 130,000 kilometres. Nowadays, carbon black is by far the most important rubber reinforcement material. Its usage for applications in the tyre and rubber product manufacturing industries exceeds 5.4 million tonnes and represents 90% of world carbon black consumption.

From "The Papermaker", June 1996
Several universal trends in the world paper industry are conspiring to accelerate demand for wet-end chemicals. Increasingly stringent legislation on paper mill effluents and the use of higher filler/fibre ratios have led papermakers to seek better fillers retention. The drive towards higher throughput and productivity has led papermakers to seek faster drainage and to minimise the down time involved in clearing away sticky deposits and slimes. Government exhortations to reuse more waste paper have led papermakers to spend more on sizing and strengthening agents in order to compensate for the relative weakness of recycled fibre. Customer demand for continuous quality improvement also feeds back into enhanced requirements for wet-end chemicals - all those products (other than fillers) that are added to the pulp slurry at the beginning of the papermaking process.
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