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The global activated carbon market size was USD 2.96 billion in 2020. The global impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and staggering, with the product witnessing a fueling demand shock across all regions amid the pandemic. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited a growth of 3.5% in 2020. The market is projected to grow from USD 3.12 billion in 2021 to USD 4.50 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 5.4% during the 2021-2028 period. The sudden rise in CAGR is attributable to this market’s demand and growth, returning to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic is over.
Activated carbon, also known as activated charcoal, is used in various industrial applications that include gas and air cleaning involving reusable recovery. Growing environmental concerns and awareness have led to strict emissions guidelines. This, in turn, has encouraged several manufacturers to invest in developed technologies and advanced concepts for the use of the product in applications such as cleaning and air treatment. It is increasingly used for water treatment, including drinking water, service water, groundwater, and wastewater.
The primary role of the product is adsorption of dissolved organic impurities and elimination of substances that affect the odor and taste. The adoption of activated carbon injection (ACI) technology has provided cost-effective methods for the purification process. These methods are majorly used in cement kilns and power plants for reducing mercury emissions. Growing pollution on account of emissions caused during product manufacturing has been a significant factor driving the market.
The Effect of COVID-19 Pandemic to Decline the Activated Carbon Production
The recent coronavirus outbreak has resulted in a decrease in global productivity and affected several economies across the world. The stagnant nature of manufacturing units has led to a reduction in the production rate. This has led to the reduced availability of activated charcoal globally. It is majorly used for water treatment in industrial, commercial, and residential sectors.
Strict measures taken to curb the spread of the disease have affected the industrial activities across regions due to the temporary shutdown of production facilities, which has reduced the usage in industrial wastewater treatment. To overcome the decline in product sales and rising awareness towards protection from the virus, governments from major developed countries such as the U.S., Germany, the U.K., and others invest enormous sums to set up more efficient water and wastewater treatment plants. Additionally, rising air pollution due to various factors such as vehicles and CO2 emissions has led to the adoption of air purification procedures that slowly contribute to the growth of the activated charcoal market.
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Growing Product Demand for Air & Gas Purification to Strengthen Market Growth
Activated carbon is an excellent choice for air & gas purification due to its high adsorption potential for a wide variety of molecules ranging from odorous compounds to carcinogenic impurities. It eliminates harmful impurities from the air streams in applications such as personal safety and home air purification, delivering clean, non-hazardous air. The product is also used in biogas treatment and hydrogen separation. It minimizes the manufacturing costs by shielding downstream equipment such as engines, catalysts, and fuel cells from corrosive silicon dioxide and increasing output yields.
Most processing plants are expected to reduce the emissions of hazardous or odorous compounds from the air. Activated charcoal air-treatment systems are among the most effective technologies available for both organic and inorganic compound purification. Exposure to volatile organic compounds from airports to workplaces to home environments is a major health issue.
Increasing Demand for Water Treatment Application to Aid Market Growth
The product demand is increasing with the rising need for clean and safe potable water. The market's growth can be attributed to the product's properties, including the high surface area available for adsorption that easily removes impurities such as oils, microbes, odor & taste imparting substances, and chemicals. For example, Carbon Activated Corp. provides industrial solutions, municipal groundwater filter systems in the U.S. and VOC/siloxane removal systems in biogas engines all over Europe. An exponentially rising population is also leading to high consumer demand for freshwater, which has led to the increased consumption of water purification.
Increasing levels of water pollution have compelled government authorities to implement stringent regulations on treating industrial wastewater. This has directed many industries such as paper & pulp, chemicals, and paints & dyes to incorporate water treatment units in their facilities, thereby increasing demand for charcoal to remove pollutants.
Hike in Prices Due to Raw Material Shortage to Impede Growth
The scarcity of various raw materials such as coconut shell charcoal used for production is a risk factor in the market growth. As a result, the prices of the raw materials have risen mainly from coconut shell charcoal. Coal-based product prices have increased due to higher energy needs. In China, coal is widely used in key application areas such as electricity, cement, and iron & steel plants are continuously growing. This has resulted in a shortage of sufficient coal grades which are used to manufacture the product. However, the decline in coconut demand has affected the operational output of producers, which has encouraged manufacturers to increase production capacities by 50% to 60%, resulting in product price hikes.
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Powdered Type to Exhibit Fastest-growth Throughout the Forecast Period
On the basis of type, the global market is segmented into powdered, granulated, and others. Among these, Granulated Activated Carbon (GAC) is the dominant segment owing to the high demand for the product from several end-use industries such as water treatment and air & gas purification. GAC has a comparatively larger particle size than powdered form, thereby making it suitable for removing contaminants from liquids, air, and gases. GAC is used in the food & beverage industry to remove impurities such as odor and color from sweeteners, syrups, beverages, amino acids, and organic acids. It is also used in wastewater treatment to remove oil, industrial pollutants, heavy metals, and pesticides. Additionally, the growing demand for granulated form can be attributable to its easy regeneration and reusability, which leads to overall market growth.
Powdered Activated Carbon (PAC) has a particle size smaller than 0.177mm as defined by ASTM; thus, they have a larger surface-area-to-volume ratio. PAC is used to remove a wide range of organic contaminants that impart color, odor, and taste from wastewater, potable water, and water required in industrial processes. It is also used in processes with high flow rates of liquids to minimize capital expenditure. Hence, the major application of PAC is in water treatment.
Water Treatment Segment to Dominate till 2028 Owing to Increasing Industrial Activities
The market is categorized into water treatment, air & gas purification, food & beverage, and others based on application. The water treatment segment holds the largest market share in 2020 and is expected to remain the largest throughout the forecast period. The product is commonly used in water treatment to adsorb organic compounds, odor and taste compounds, toxic substances, and oils. It is widely used due to its high porosity and offers a larger surface area for adsorption. The rising need to treat water throughout the world due to the depleting natural sources and increasing number of pollutants is responsible for the market growth. Besides, the strict norms implemented to treat industrial wastewater are expected to support the segment growth.
In the food & beverage industry, the product is used to remove contaminants such as odor and color imparting substances, heavy metals, toxic components, amino acids, and refining of edible oil. Increasing attention of consumers towards food safety and quality is expected to support the market growth. Furthermore, the product has applications in industries to recover various solvents and purification of CO2, waste gases and control mercury vapor emissions, especially from fossil fuel-based power plants.
The charcoal is used in other applications such as rare metal recovery, energy storage, and specialty chemicals manufacturing. The current rising demand for energy has led to growth in the manufacturing of energy storage devices, thereby increasing the product consumption in the batteries.
Asia Pacific Activated Carbon Market Size, 2020 (USD Billion)
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Asia Pacific dominated the market with a value of USD 1.24 billion in 2020. It is expected to remain dominant throughout the forecast period due to China and India being two of the consuming countries, mainly for water treatment applications. The exponential rise in population in Asia-Pacific has led to an increased need for pure and safe potable water, thereby resulting in increasing demand. Additionally, ease of availability of raw materials and their low costs will support the growth of the market.
In North America, the U.S. led the market due to increased demand for water and air purification applications. Regulations imposed by the government on the disposal of industrial wastewater and gas emissions have led to growth in the use of the product for removing contaminants such as CO2, mercury vapors, and other toxic gases.
In Europe, stringent standards and guidelines, and government initiatives to safeguard the environment have resulted in the growth in demand for applications including water treatment, mercury absorption, and air purification. In addition, regulations have also influenced automotive manufacturers to use activated charcoal in order to minimize emissions from the vehicle. This is expected to create several growth opportunities for the activated carbon market in Europe.
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The market in Latin America is expected to observe significant growth in the coming years. Mexico is the major country in this region. Increasing product consumption in the water purification and pharmaceutical industries for deodorization and decolorization is projected to drive the market. In the Middle East & Africa, low water availability, increasing oil exploration, and industrial activities are the key factors influencing the demand for purification applications and driving the activated charcoal market growth.
Key Market Players to Strengthen their Position by Providing Solutions to Various Industries
Major producers such as Kuraray Co., Ltd., and Cabot Corporation have a widespread presence around the globe. They offer various types of activated carbon products. Kuraray Co., Ltd., and Cabot Corporation used acquisition and new product development as their key strategies to increase their global presence and serve the customer demands in the market. These companies serve various end-use industries such as water treatment, pharmaceutical, oil & gas, and food & beverage.
Osaka Gas Chemicals Co., Ltd. develops and uses technologies to supply various products to meet consumer requirements. These include products with higher performance for special application in several industries such as air environment, water purification, food and beverages.
January 2019, Calgon Carbon Corporation announced the global price increase on all carbon products and other related equipment. This price increase is due to a continued boom in raw material prices and transportation expenditures. The price increase ranged between 10-15%, depending on the type of material, specific product, and global market dynamics.
An Infographic Representation of Activated Carbon Market
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The activated carbon market report provides a detailed analysis of the market and focuses on crucial aspects such as leading companies, applications, and types. Also, the report offers insights into the activated carbon market trends and highlights vital industry developments. In addition to the factors mentioned above, the report encompasses various factors that have contributed to the growth of the market over recent years.
Value (USD Billion); Volume (Kilo Tons)
By Type, By Application, and By Geography
Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 2.96 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 4.50 billion by 2028.
In 2020, the market size stood at USD 1.24 billion.
Growing at a CAGR of 5.4%, the market will exhibit steady growth in the forecast period (2021-2028).
Water treatment is expected to be the leading segment under the application segment in this market during the forecast period.
Increasing demand for water treatment applications will drive market growth.
Cabot Corporation, Kuraray Co., Ltd., Donau Carbon GmbH, and KUREHA CORPORATION are few of the leading players in the global market.
Asia Pacific dominated the global market in 2020.
Rising demand for packaged beverages and an increasing need for clean water is expected to drive the adoption of the product.
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