Microalloyedis a type of steel where small amounts of alloying elements are added primarily in order to increase the strength of the steel. It is designed to provide better mechanical properties as well as high resistance to atmospheric corrosion. It contains small amounts of chromium, nickel, molybdenum, copper, nitrogen, vanadium, niobium, titanium, and zirconium. The individual elements are usually less than 0.10% and total microalloying elements are less than 0.15%. These were originally developed for large-diameter oil and gas pipelines because of the requirement of high strength, along with improved toughness and good weldability.
In addition to this, microalloyed steel is considered a cross between carbon steel and low alloy steel in terms of performance and cost. For realizing the full strengthening potential of microalloying additions, it is important to use a soaking temperature of above 1100°C (2010°F) prior to forging, which is high enough to dissolve all vanadium-bearing precipitates. Moreover, it typically contains 0.07 to 0.12% carbons, up to 2% manganese, and small additions of niobium, vanadium, and titanium (generally max. 0.1%) in various types of combinations. Moreover, it has good resistance to fatigue and dent due to its relatively high yield strengths, which is between 275 and 750 MPa without heat treatment.
The rise in global automobile production is a prime factor driving the demand for microalloyed steel. It is used in the manufacturing of body panels to increase fuel efficiency and help reduce weight. The growing demand for electric and hybrid vehicles across the world is also expected to contribute to the growth of the microalloyed steel market.
As per the data shared by the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency, the industry currently manufactures 26 million vehicles, of which 26 million and 4.7 million were exported in the year 2019–20 and the overall automobile exports registered a growth of 2.95%. In addition to this, the sale of electric cars topped 2.1 million globally in 2019, which represents a 6% growth from 2018, as per the International Energy Agency (IEA). Electric cars accounted for 2.6% of global car sales in the year 2019 and registered a 40% year-on-year growth.
The burgeoning construction of commercial and residential sectors, especially in emerging economies, drives the market growth. Additionally, factors such as improved employment opportunities increased per capita income, and adoption of luxurious lifestyles have surged construction activities across the globe. This has led to an increased demand for microalloyed steels from the construction industry as it reduces product thickness, improves toughness at low temperatures, and have high-yield strength and outstanding weldability.
Burgeoning investments and rising support from governments across the globe are projected to create profitable opportunities for market growth. The favorable rules and regulations and initiatives taken by the governments are providing flexibility to the steel manufactures, further surging the demand for microalloyed steel. Recently, an initiative was undertaken by the government of China, where the prime steel producers of the nation were encouraged to upgrade and improve their steel production techniques in order to ensure the high quality of the steel.
The Welsh Government offered an R&D funding of USD 81.4 million for sites of Tata Steel (India) in 2018, in Port Talbot and Llanwern, to improve the steel quality. The rules and regulations related to the steel industry in emerging economies such as India, China, and Brazil are not as stringent as those in the U.S. and Western European countries.
The Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Program (BNVSAP) mandates all new cars manufactured in India to undergo various safety tests in order to ensure that they adhere to the required safety norms. Government agencies of different countries are also making efforts to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles due to which they are funding a number of R&D activities to develop new materials and technologies, further driving the demand for microalloyed steels.
The weathering steel segment holds the largest market share. It is a steel alloy that contains quantities of copper, chromium, nickel, and other alloying elements that enhance corrosion resistance. It forms a protective patina that bonds with the surface of the steel when the steel rusts under normal atmospheric conditions. Weathering steel finds its application in bridge construction, electrical transmission towers, streams, railroad tracks, and many others.
The growing construction activities in developing and developed nations drive segment growth. The construction industry generated total annual revenue of USD 10 trillion and USD 3.6 trillion and contributed 6% to the global GDP in recent years,as per the World Economic Forum report. Apart from this, the electrical and electronics industry is the second-largest user of weathering steel.
Asia-Pacific holds the largest share in the microalloyed steel market on account of the robust economic growth in China, India, and Taiwan. Rapid advancement in technology in the electrical and automotive industries and industrialization and urbanization in the region has surged the demand for microalloyed steel. As per the report shared by the World Steel Association, Asia-Pacific was the largest region to use steel in buildings and infrastructures in 2018.
As per the data of the World Steel Association, the main steel-producing countries include China with 928.3 mt, India with 106.5 mt, and Japan with 104.3 mt. The prime exporters of steel include China and Japan, with 68.8 mt and 35.8 mt of steel, allowing them to position themselves at higher ranks. As per the Indian Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), the automotive industry in India is projected to reach 282.8 USD billion by 2026.
Europe is projected to hold the second-largest share in the microalloyed steel market during the forecast period, owing to the growing automotive sector and massive government support in this region. As per the data shared by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, the turnover generated by the automotive sector represents 7% of the EU's total GDP. In addition to this, EU automotive investment in R&D increased by 6.1% to reach 72.6 USD billion annually. The region delivers quality 'Made in Europe' products around the world, generating a USD 88.22 billion trade surplus for the EU.