Global Scandium Market Size and Share Analysis 2022-2027
Scandium is a rare earth metallic d-block element with a silvery-white color. It is predominantly found in deposits of rare earth and uranium compounds, but its extraction is limited to only a few mines worldwide. The Global Scandium Market was valued at USD 545 million in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 837 million by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 8.94% during the forecast period (2022-2027).
The scandium market was negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to lockdown measures, major end-user segments such as aerospace and defense, ceramics, and electronics were temporarily suspended, resulting in reduced usage of scandium. However, after 2020, the market gradually recovered due to the resumption of activities in these segments.
USD 837.1 Mn incremental growth between 2021 and 2026
Product Type, End User, Region
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The market’s growth is primarily driven by the increasing use of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) and the growing demand for aluminum-scandium alloys in the aerospace and defense industries. SOFCs are high-efficiency renewable energy technology that generates electricity through the chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen. They help reduce pollutants from methane gas emissions and have various applications in fuel substitution, energy generation, and revenue generation. SOFCs are economically viable due to their steam pre-reforming catalyst and innovative internal recycling design. With higher temperature ratings and efficiency, they are ideal for hybrid power and power production applications while emitting fewer pollutants. Scandium, as a high-value element, exhibits excellent electrical and heat-stabilizing properties, making it beneficial for enhancing the performance of SOFCs. It replaces yttria as a stabilizing agent for zirconia in the solid electrolyte part of SOFCs, enabling lower temperature operations, higher power outputs, and improved unit life cycle. These factors make SOFCs cost-effective, extending the life of fuel cells and making them competitive compared to other sources of electricity. Additionally, SOFCs can be used for energy storage in regions with high electricity demand. The increasing demand for scandium in SOFCs drives market growth during the forecast period.
However, the high price and limited availability of scandium are likely to hinder the growth of the studied market. Scandium’s scarcity and limited production result in a higher demand than its supply, making it one of the most expensive natural elements. Over the past decade, the price of pure scandium has ranged from USD 4000 to USD 20,000 per kilogram. Furthermore, the restricted global production and limited availability of scandium lead to fluctuating prices. Different forms of scandium, such as oxide, fluoride, and acetate, have varying prices, with fluoride being the most costly. The high cost of scandium restricts its adoption in industries such as aerospace and automotive, despite its superior performance compared to traditional metals. The high price scenario is expected to continue until there are significant additions to global scandium production capacity, particularly in Western countries. Consequently, the high cost of scandium remains a major restraint for market growth.
Nevertheless, advancements in energy storage technology and potential applications in the downstream industry create opportunities for market growth in the future. The use of aluminum-scandium master alloy, which contains 2% scandium and 99.7% aluminum, allows the addition of scandium to Al-Mg-Zr alloys used in sheet and plate forms. These alloys find extensive use in the aerospace sector, particularly among aircraft manufacturers who rely on their high strength-to-ductility-to-weldability ratio, enhanced corrosion resistance, and lower density due to magnesium content. Aluminum-scandium alloys offer weight reduction of 15%-20% in aircraft design, making them highly desirable. Weldable structures using these alloys also promise cost savings. Various grades of aluminum, such as AA 2014, AA 2024, AA 5052, and AA 6061, are commonly employed in manufacturing airplane parts. Consequently, the demand for aluminum-scandium alloys increases, contributing to market growth.
The market is segmented based on various factors, including product type, end user, and region.
Segmentation by Product Type
Carbonate and Other Product Types
Segmentation by End User
Aerospace and Defense
Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC)
Other End-user Industries
Segmentation by Region
Rest of the World
Fluoride holds the largest share in the product type segment of the global scandium market. This is primarily due to its extensive use in the manufacturing of aluminum alloys, particularly for the automobile industry, because of its low impurity levels. Scandium fluoride, also known as scandium trifluoride or trifluoro scandium, is a crystalline ionic compound produced through the reaction of scandium and fluorine. It is also formed during the extraction of scandium from thortveitite ore by reacting scandium oxide (Sc2O3) with ammonium bifluoride at high temperatures.
Scandium fluoride is a crucial material for producing high-purity metallic scandium. Pure scandium can be obtained by heating scandium fluoride (ScF3) with calcium. It is also a primary material for alloy production. With a high melting point of approximately 1,552°C, scandium fluoride exhibits ionic characteristics. This compound forms strong ionic bonds, requiring significant energy to melt. Furthermore, scandium fluoride is insoluble in water. It demonstrates negative thermal expansion over a wide temperature range from 10 K (~ -263.15°C) to 1100 K (~ 826.85°C), meaning it shrinks when heated. Its polymorphism property makes it an excellent glass former and modifier. Scandium fluoride has also found applications in the synthesis of visible light-stimulable phosphors and as a dopant for light amplifiers. Additionally, it is widely utilized as a chemical reagent and finds uses in optical coatings, catalysts, electronic ceramics, and the laser industry. This rare chemical can even be found in everyday household items such as energy-saving lamps, glasses, fluorescent lamps, and televisions. Scandium fluoride’s oxygen-sensitive properties make it valuable in applications like metal production. The compound has diverse applications across various technologies and scientific fields, from etching and oil refining to synthetic organic chemistry.
In the application segment of the global Scandium Metal market, solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) hold the largest share. This is attributed to their increased ionic conductivity, cell efficiency, and operating life. SOFCs utilize a solid oxide material as an electrolyte, facilitating the conduction of negative oxygen ions from the cathode to the anode. The anode and cathode of these cells are made from special inks that cover the electrolyte. Therefore, precious metals, corrosive acids, or molten materials are not required for SOFCs.
A solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) is an electrochemical conversion device that directly produces electricity by combining an oxidant and a fuel through an ionic conducting oxide electrolyte. Electrolyte materials are exposed to high temperatures to catalyze the conversion of natural gas into energy. However, the high temperatures involved in the catalyzing process can lead to rapid degradation of ceramic electrolytes, resulting in higher capital and maintenance costs. By incorporating scandium into solid electrolytes, the system can operate at much lower temperatures compared to conventional SOFCs. This application of scandium has effectively reduced the costs of SOFCs and facilitated their widespread adoption for distributed power generation. As electricity prices rise and there is a growing need for sustainable power generation methods, there are significant market opportunities for the SOFCs market, thus highlighting the importance of scandium. The increasing demand for clean energy and concerns regarding energy generation from conventional sources such as coal and natural gas are expected to drive the demand for solid oxide fuel cells in the future. Scandium-containing SOFCs have proven to offer outstanding performance compared to conventional yttrium-stabilized zirconia solid electrolytes. The use of scandium-based electrolytes has improved ionic conductivity, cell efficiency, and operating life of fuel cells. Currently, SOFCs find applications in transport, industrial equipment, power generation, cooling, disaster relief, and areas where grid connections are unavailable. Furthermore, according to the Energy Information Administration, electricity consumption in the United States reached approximately 3,930 terawatt hours in 2021, representing a 2% increase from the previous year.
The United States, with its significant demand from industries such as aerospace and defense, electronics, and printing, has contributed to the growth of the scandium market. Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) represent the largest consumption of scandium in the country. Scandium-stabilized zirconium has become the preferred material for oxide-conductive electrolytes in SOFCs. Scandium effectively replaces yttria in stabilizing zirconium in the solid electrolyte, resulting in higher power outputs at lower temperatures. The United States was among the early adopters of large-scale fuel cell deployment, supported by industry players and government funding, and has seen increased uptake by end-users. Bloom Energy, a leading manufacturer and supplier of SOFCs for on-site electricity production, is the largest consumer of scandium. Their Bloom Box, a carbon-free power generation system that utilizes scandium in the fuel cell ink coating (15 kg scandium oxide per 100 kW fuel cell assembly), is considered a benchmark in the solid oxide fuel cell market. With their strong market presence and growing product penetration, Bloom Energy holds the largest share in scandium consumption volume.
These concerted efforts by the government and industry players are expected to result in significant cost reductions for SOFCs and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). This will drive the demand for fuel cells in the country, creating opportunities for significant growth in scandium consumption within this sector over the study period. The primary use of scandium is in the form of an alloy in conjunction with aluminum. Scandium-aluminum alloys are increasingly employed in constructing airframes, thinner fuselages, welded gas tanks, and dashboard panel structures due to their corrosion resistance and high durability-to-weight ratio. These alloys enable weight reductions of around 15-20%, leading to improved fuel efficiency in aircraft. Scandium also finds diverse applications in the electronics sector, ranging from smartphone displays, circuitry, and speakers to computer switches and television and computer monitors. The United States electronics market is the largest in the world and thus represents one of the leading potential markets for scandium. In 2021, its consumer electronics industry revenue amounted to USD 154.62 billion.
The global Scandium market exhibits a partially consolidated nature, with the top five players contributing to approximately 47% of the total global production capacity of scandium and scandium oxide, which is the most commonly traded and produced form of scandium metal.
Amongst these companies, three have emerged as the top players in terms of production capacity. The Hunan Institute of Rare Earth Metal Materials, China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC Group), and Sunrise Energy Metals Limited each possess a production capacity of around 20 tons per year for scandium oxide. Consequently, these companies hold an equal share of approximately 11.55% in the global market’s total production capacity. Occupying the second position in the market is Longbai Group Co., Ltd., with a production capacity of approximately 11.9 tons per year for both scandium metal and scandium oxide. Taking the third position are two companies, Henan Rongjia Scandium Vanadium Technology Co., Ltd., and Hunan Oriental Scandium Co., Ltd. Each of these companies commands a market share of 5.78%, with a production capacity of around 10 tons per year. Several other significant companies operate in the market, including Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp. (a subsidiary of Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd), Guangxi Maoxin Technology Co., Ltd., Rio Tinto, RUSAL, and JSC Dalur, among others.
Key Companies Profiled in this report include China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC Group), Guangdong Dongfang Zirconium Technology Co. Ltd, Guangxi Maoxin Technology Co. Ltd, Henan Rongjia scandium vanadium Technology Co. Ltd, Huizhou Top Metal Materials Co. Ltd (TOPM), Hunan Institute of Rare Earth Metal Materials, Hunan Oriental Scandium Co. Ltd, JSC Dalur, Longbai Group Co. Ltd, NioCorp Development Ltd, Rio Tinto, Rusal, Scandium International Mining Corporation, Stanford Advanced Materials, Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd (Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp.), Sunrise Energy Metals Limited, Treibacher Industrie AG.
Recent Industry Developments
In October 2022, Rio Tinto entered into a collaboration with the Canadian government to implement decarbonization measures at Rio Tinto Fer et Titane (RTFT) in Sorel Tracy, Québec. The objective of this partnership is to enhance scandium production, with a target of achieving an annual production of 12 tons of scandium oxide.
In June 2021, Scandium International Mining Corporation and Nevada Gold Mines signed a letter of intent for various collaborative activities. These include conducting bench test work, pilot plant testing, and feasibility study design work. One of the key focuses of this collaboration is the development of an ion-exchange recovery system to extract critical metals such as scandium, cobalt, nickel, and others.
In March 2021, Rio Tinto and Amaero reached an agreement to supply the first commercial batch of high-performance aluminum-scandium alloy. Amaero intends to utilize this alloy for 3D printing applications, particularly in high-temperature environments. The product will subsequently be made available in the market.
Key Questions Answered
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