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Global Activated Carbon Industry Analysis And Opportunities

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Activated carbon has emerged as an indispensable industry ingredient for a wide array of industries, especially water treatment and food and beverage industries. As an efficient adsorbent, activated carbon is extensively used for purifying drinking water, treating groundwater as well as air purification.

The widespread environmental concerns, paired with increased governmental regulations on the quality standards of basic amenities have necessitated the implementation of additional safety measures in most consumer product industries. Since then, the global activated carbon market has projected a healthy growth, across different geographies and it is anticipated that it will further grow over the forecast period.

Global Activated Carbon Market Overview

  • The scope of application of activated carbon has not only expanded but also largely diversified in recent years. From the medical industry to the cosmetics industry, from metal finishing to soil remediation, from air purification to water and soil treatment, the use of activated carbon is multifold. However, a major portion of activated carbon is used in treating and remediating contaminated water.
  • Driven by the enhanced demand in the water purifying markets, the global activated carbon market is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.2 percent and reach an estimate of $6.2 billion by 2022.
  • Currently, the global production of activated carbon is segmented into powder, granular and extruded forms. In certain forms of applications, fibers are also used. Around 40 percent of the total quantity manufactured accounts for granular activated carbon, followed by 35 percent of powder activated carbon while the rest is constituted by extruded and other forms of activated carbon.
  • The U.S. and Europe are the key markets for activated carbon. China is the leading producer of activated carbon among other Asia Pacific countries.

Global Activated Carbon Market: Industry Analysis

  • The chemical properties of activated carbon make it extremely conducive to removing environmental pollutants and other non-biodegradable industrial wastes. Wastewater treatment is the predominant application of activated carbon. This is expected to be the major driver of the market demands of the activated carbon industry. Spurred by the global demand for clean drinking water as well as stringent government regulations ensuring the availability and access to potable water worldwide, the application and consequently the demand for activated carbon has expanded widely.
  • One unique aspect of activated carbon is its potential for in-situ application. The alarming rate of climate change worldwide calls for the immediate curbing of the polluting agents. One of the biggest causes of environmental pollution is enhanced mercury emission from various coal-based industries. Parallelly, the injection of activated carbon has evolved as one of the most reliable methods of reducing mercury emissions. Given that activated carbon is sourced from raw materials such as coal and wood, many power plants are using activated carbon to not only make their manufacturing process environment-friendly but also putting one of their by-products to profitable use.
  • The global activated carbon market size is currently estimated to be 2.4 million metric tons. This rapid increase in the global activated carbon market recorded a CAGR of 11 percent. Although, it may appear that the projected CAGR has diminished but this only implies that the market capacity of global activated carbon is likely to increase at par with the demand.
  • China and the U.S. currently are the most prominent stakeholders in the activated carbon industry. While China’s export share and import shares are 18 percent and 5 percent respectively, the U.S. holds 16 percent of the export share and 9 percent of the import share. APAC is anticipated to observe the fastest growth in the activated carbon industry globally with Japan, Korea, and India becoming increasingly important in the market contexts.

Global activated Carbon market: Opportunities

  • Stricter environmental guidelines across industries have obligated several industries to opt for eco-friendly alternatives to their manufacturing process and take precautions pertaining to the emission of pollutants in the environment. This has heightened the market demand for adsorbents like activated carbon. Especially with international organizations emphasizing the importance of safe and clean drinking water for all, the demand for activated carbon market is expected to grow significantly.
  • Penetration into newer industries shall prove to be favorable for the global activated carbon industries in the near future. One such industry is the automotive industries. Again driven by the need for solutions for cleaner emissions, most upcoming vehicles are fitted with activated carbon canisters.
  • The demand for activated carbon is further likely to be fueled by the gems and jewelry industries, especially the gold industry. Increased gold mining will automatically expand the market for activated carbon globally.

Conclusion

As a steadily booming industry, the growth prospects of activated carbon are highly promising. However, the high feedstock cost, the acute dependence on weather conditions and by extension, coconut productions for raw materials have added to the volatility of the markets. Further, in the current scenario, 50 percent of the total market revenue is held by the top suppliers and the bargaining power rests with these few since the volumes required to meet the requirements of the related end-user industries are fairly huge.

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