Clean water regs to drive global activated carbon market growth, report says

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SAN JOSE, CA, Dec. 20, 2013 -- According to a recent report by Global Industry Analysts (GIA), the global market for activated carbon is projected to reach 1.87 million metric tons by 2018, driven by stringent clean water and environmental regulations, particularly in the United States.

Activated carbon has emerged as one of the most effective solutions for water and air purification due to its exceptional adsorption capabilities. While mercury control regulations is expected to play a major role in fuelling demand for activated carbon in the U.S., the growing focus on improving water quality and air in China will also aid market growth in accordance with the goals of the 12th Five-Year Plan.

Activated carbon is an ubiquitous material finding usage in myriad of applications ranging from water treatment, air purification, and food & beverage processing, to medical & pharmaceuticals and automotive emission canisters for the purpose of absorption of impurities. Most common forms of activated carbon include powdered activated carbon and granular activated carbon, which can be produced from variety of high carbon content materials such as coal, coconut shells, peat, and wood.

Powdered activated carbon is expected to benefit from Mercury and Air Toxics Standards in the United States, which encourages installation of activated carbon injection systems. Granular activated carbon is anticipated to gain from the implementation of Stage 2 of the Disinfectants and Disinfection By-Products Rule. Activated carbon market is also expected to benefit from the 'the Minamata Convention' signed in Japan in October 2013, which places special emphasis on addressing issues relating to mercury releases and emissions globally.

Air Purification end-use segment is also rapidly emerging as a key enabler of growth, supported by the growing focus on mercury removal in coal-fired power plants and other facilities, especially in the U.S. The food & beverage sector is also adding to market prospects, given the steady development of the sector in developing countries. Surging automobile production and stringent emission norms in the automotive sector is also driving demand due to increased usage of emission canisters and cabin air filters.

Given the current tight raw material supply conditions and the ensuing increase in prices of virgin activated carbon, demand for reactivated carbon is poised to witness steady growth in the coming years. Owing to its regenerative ability, granular activated carbon is especially expected to benefit from this trend. In refineries, reactivated carbon is often used for reducing volatile organic compounds (VOC) levels in vapor-phase applications, groundwater remediation, and wastewater treatment processes. Demand for reactivated carbon is also anticipated to increase among municipalities and industries in line with their increased focus on lowering carbon footprint while achieving cost savings.

As stated by the new market research report, Asia-Pacific represents the largest market worldwide, supported by growing population, increased urbanization and robust pace of industrialization, which necessitates increased usage of activated carbon in various applications. The United States is forecasted to emerge as the fastest growing market with a projected CAGR of 13.2 percent over the analysis period, led by stringent regulatory standards relating to air and water pollution.

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