An inorganic compound, zinc oxide has been used for medicinal purposes in India since as far back as 500 BC, later used in other ancient civilizations of Greece and China. The applications of zinc oxide have grown multi-fold since then. Zinc oxide is used as an additive in building and construction, in cosmetics as moisturizers, in paints as a coating agent, in food as additives, in cigarette manufacturing as a filler, in the vulcanization of rubber for tires, in electronics, automobiles, and ceramics.
Zinc oxide is a white powder that is insoluble in water and has unique chemical and physical properties, including having high chemical stability, high photostability, high electrochemical coupling coefficient ability and a wide range of radiation absorption. It is classified as a semiconductor with a covalence on the boundary of ionic and covalent semiconductors and has high thermal and mechanical stability making it suitable for uses in electronics, laser technology, and optoelectronics. Due to the piezoelectric and pyroelectric properties of zinc oxide, it can be used in the form of a sensor, converter, and photocatalyst and energy generator in the production of hydrogen. It has low toxicity rates, biocompatibility and biodegradable traits that indicate the potential for the biomedicine industry.
Future Business Opportunities in Zinc Oxide Market
The global zinc oxide market is estimated to reach a value of $4.70 billion by 2022, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6 percent, while the global demand for zinc oxide is estimated to be growing at a CAGR of 5 percent in the same period. There is surplus supply in the global zinc oxide market that is expected to continue over the next 2-3 years, providing an ideal environment to launch a business in the zinc oxide market. Based on the growth of the zinc oxide market, there are plenty of business opportunities in the field.
- Emerging Markets: The APAC region is expected to lead in both the demand and supply for zinc oxide in the coming years, with more capacity additions planned as well. The economic growth in countries of China, India, and Brazil are further driving the demand for zinc oxide, especially in the industries for tires, innovative electronics, and cosmetic products. Setting up a business in these regions for zinc oxide will provide immense growth opportunities.
- Topical Application: Application on the skin is one of the oldest uses of zinc oxide and one with numerous business opportunities to this day. A combination of zinc oxide with iron oxide known as calamine is popularly used as calamine lotion. It is also used in a variety of creams, lotions, and ointments to protect against sunburn since zinc oxide is the broadest spectrum UVB and UVA absorber, approved by the FDA for use as a sunscreen. Nanoparticles of zinc oxide are also used in sunscreen to reflect the sun.
- Medicine: Zinc oxide has antibacterial and antifungal properties that make it useful in medical treatments. In nanoparticle form, zinc oxide is used to enhance the antibacterial activity of the medication. Zinc oxide is used in dermatology as an ointment or dusting powder to treat rashes, itching, inflammation and to speed up the wound healing process. In addition, zinc oxide is also used in dentistry, as a component of various dental pastes and for temporary fillings.
- Rubber Industry: More than 50 percent of the zinc oxide produced at a global level is used in the rubber industry, with a significant segment used in tires. Zinc oxide is used in the vulcanization process of rubber to produce tires, shoe soles, hockey pucks, and similar objects. Adding zinc oxide helps in protecting the rubber from fungi and UV rays, extending the life of the rubber.
- Textiles: The use of zinc oxide nanoparticles in textiles offers numerous possibilities as the zinc oxide nanoparticles are water repellent, self-cleaning and offer safety from UV rays. The benefits of zinc oxide nanoparticle based clothing are especially useful in military garments, as very little washing would be required. Even in civilian clothing, textiles with zinc oxide nanoparticles are immensely durable.
- Electronics: Zinc oxide serves as an important semiconductor with a variety of applications in electronics due to its high bond energy and wide energy band. It is used in field emission display equipment, sensors, UV lasers, photoelectric equipment, devices emitting surface acoustic waves and in solar cells. Zinc oxide is also used in gas sensors, and while it has weak selectivity towards certain gases, its capabilities can be improved by adding other materials.
Zinc oxide has been around for thousands of years and it serves a variety of purposes across multiple industries, enhancing the market potential further. A surplus supply of zinc oxide, combined with increasing demand, ensure that there are plenty of business opportunities in the future, which can be identified primarily on the basis of end-user industry and region.