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news & trends Christmas Day tablet device activation increased by 150 percent in 2012. Transparency Market Research predicts that the market is heading up, up, up. The report, “Tablet PC Market—U.S. Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth And Forecast, 2012-2018,” offers these numbers and estimates. • 34.2 million units: US tablet shipments in 2012. • 71.6 million units: Estimated US tablet shipments by 2018. • 18 percent: Estimated annual growth rate of corporate use from 2012- 2018. Visit: www.transparencymarket research.com/tablet-pc.html n EU awards C1B for graphene research The European Commission, the executive body of the EU, announced in late January that it would sponsor C1 billion in research on graphene aimed at delivering “10 years of worldbeating science at the crossroads of (Credit: ACerS.) science and technology,” according to a press release. The EC will fund directly C54 million, and the rest of the funding will come from other research programs and partnerships. According to the EU’s Future and Emerging Technologies website, the award has been almost two years in the making. In July 2010, 21 proposals were submitted and six were selected as pilots. The six projects, called “FET Flagship Initiatives,” received C1.5 million awards starting in May 2011 to develop an “integrated research agenda,” which were to include an “assessment of feasibility in scientific, technical, and financial terms.” The FET falls under the large umbrella of the EU’s research and innovation funding framework program, called Horizon 2020, the goal of which is to fund research that will drive innovation, economic growth, and jobs. In late 2012 a panel of 25 experts evaluated final proposals and choose two winners. Jari Kinaret of Sweden’s Chalmers University leads the “Graphene” project, which will involve more than 100 research groups and 136 principle investigators. The other winning project involves human brain research. Visit: www.europe.eu/research/horizon2020. n Roskill: Upturn in shipped, traded bauxite; market to be oversupplied short term In what is probably good news for refractory ceramics producers, a new report from a UK-based market research company, Roskill, says that alumina refining and bauxite production have caught up—at least temporarily—with the disrupting surge in demand from Asia, particularly China, for feedstock for the aluminum industry. China’s enormous appetite for bauxite and alumina has been a gamechanger for at least the past five years, and with that demand, the market responded with higher prices in the 2007-09 period. Unfortunately for United States refractory makers, this was also the same timeframe in which they were just starting to benefit from more demand for their products from the steel industry. This effectively put a big squeeze on their profits. Times changed, however, and the economic turbulence of the last half-decade eased some of the supply– demand issues. Demand particularly tapered in the West, though, according to Roskill, demand has remained fairly strong in China (in addition to big buying (Credit: Roskill.) Global bauxite production. Asian supply has grown from 16 percent to 45 percent over the last decade. from businesses in India and the Middle East). But, the lull in demand provided enough breathing space for bauxite producers to expand capacity. China, Indonesia, and India have joined Australia as major producers (and Asia now accounts for 45 percent of global supply, compared with 16 percent a decade ago, reports Roskill). Roskill says, “Global alumina production increased from 80 million tons to 96 million tons between 2007 and 2011, with most of the supply increase from China, which is now the largest producer. More refinery capacity is planned over the next three years, with another 14 million tons in China alone.” New production projects also are underway in Australia, Guinea, Ghana, Indonesia, and Fiji. If all of the planned production comes online in the next three years, Roskill predicts that the market effectively shifts to an oversupplied state— at least in the short term. Some of the above does not necessarily impact refractory makers, who generally fret over the prices and supply stabilities of calcined bauxites. There tends to be fewer producers for this market. But, according to Roskill, “N ew sources of supply and expansions in Guyana and Brazil may ease fears of future shortages.” The report also notes, “European supply of non-metallurgical bauxites has increased over the last five years, mainly through growing production in Greece, Turkey, and Russia.” Of course, the demand for refractory 4 www.ceramics.org | American Ceramic Society Bulletin, Vol. 92, No. 2


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