Posted: August 16, 2007

Evolving Nanotechnology Impacts Specialty Chemicals Prices In Various Ways

(Nanowerk News) An article today in says that surging demand is having a variety of impacts on specialty chemicals prices, depending on the maturity of downstream markets for the respective chemicals.
While generally pointing upward, "not all specialty chemicals prices are on the rise – some are actually going down. The most consistent pattern of downward movement in specialties exists in newly emerging fields such as bioconversion of cellulose into ethanol, or in nanotechnology.
"When a technology is still in the laboratory or pilot plant, prices of the key chemical ingredients are likely to be "relatively high," says Roger Shamel, president of Consulting Resources Corp., a Lexington, Mass. firm that follows trends in specialty chemicals. As the technology advances into the commercial sphere, producers of the required ingredients "move down the learning curve," finding ways to make their production more efficient, benefiting from economies of scale.
"Similarly, notes Shamel, some of the chemicals used in developmental nanotechnology applications are still priced at a premium. He cites as a case in point advanced pigments for auto coatings that would allow drivers to switch the color of their vehicles from, say, red to black at the flick of a switch. These pigments are exceptionally pricey and likely to remain so for a long time to come, Shamel notes. But even some of the most innovative specialties eventually reach commodity pricing status, he adds. Nonetheless, he says that development can take "decades," allowing those in the specialties business to make "some pretty good returns" along the way."
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