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  • Published In : Jul 2024
  • Code : CMI7122
  • Pages :134
  • Formats :
      Excel and PDF
  • Industry : Bulk Chemicals

Market Size and Trends

The activated carbon market is estimated to be valued at USD 4.83 Bn in 2024 and is expected to reach USD 9.23 Bn by 2031, exhibiting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.7% from 2024 to 2031.

Activated Carbon Market Key Factors

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The activated carbon market is expected to witness significant growth over the coming years. There is an increasing demand for activated carbon across various end-use industries such as water treatment, food & beverage, pharmaceutical, and others. The growing environmental concerns and stringent regulations regarding water & wastewater treatment across various countries are encouraging the growth of the activated carbon market. Furthermore, rising industrialization and urbanization in developing nations are also driving the activated carbon market growth.

Growing Industrial Applications of Activated Carbon

The use of activated carbon is growing across different industrial verticals owing to its excellent adsorption properties. Industries such as water treatment, food & beverage, and pharmaceuticals have been major consumers of activated carbon. The water treatment industry in particular has seen substantial growth in demand for activated carbon due to the increasing need for purification of water sources across municipal as well as industrial applications. Stringent regulations regarding the removal of pollutants, disinfection byproducts and purification of drinking water have propelled the use of activated carbon in water treatment plants. Its effectiveness in removing color, odor, taste and a variety of organic and inorganic impurities from water makes it the preferred choice for adsorption applications over other alternatives. With growing global population and rising industrial activities, the stress on water resources is continuously increasing. This has bolstered investments towards upgrading existing as well as building new water treatment facilities which utilize activated carbon on a large scale.

Another sector driving significant activated carbon consumption is food & beverage industry. Major functionalities driving its use include purification of process water, finished product water as well as air purification applications across bottling, brewing and other beverage producers. Stringent international quality standards regarding the presence of contaminants in packaged foods and beverages have amplified the role of activated carbon in purification processes. Moreover, activated carbon is also gaining prominence as an effective strategy for color and odor removal in fruit juices, sugar processing and recovery of valuable flavor and fragrance compounds from the food processing industry. Growing health-conscious consumer trends promoting minimally processed and natural foods without the use of artificial preservatives are working in favor of activated carbon adoption. With sustained growth anticipated across food and beverage manufacturing globally in the coming years on the back of rising incomes, changing diets and urbanization - the demand for activated carbon from this sector is expected to see further acceleration.

Market Concentration and Competitive Landscape

Activated Carbon Market Concentration By Players

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Increased Adoption for Mercury Removal

Activated carbon has emerged as the material of choice for controlling and removing mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. Stringent environmental regulations imposed by governments worldwide are pressurizing power generators to curb toxic mercury pollution emanating from burning of coal. According to the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) implemented by the US EPA in 2011, coal-fired power plants need to achieve significant mercury emission reductions over the coming years.

Key Takeaways from Analyst:

The activated carbon market continues to be driven by growing demand from water treatment applications. Stringent regulations regarding water purity are increasing the usage of activated carbon for filtration across developing nations. Additionally, growth in the food and beverage industry will push consumption of activated carbon for filtration purposes over the coming years.

Availability of substitute materials presents a challenge. Membrane technology is emerging as an alternative for filtration, particularly in water treatment. Membranes are gaining preference due to lower lifecycle costs as compared to activated carbon. This is expected to restrain market growth to some extent over the forecast period.

North America region dominates activated carbon consumption and the trend is likely to continue. Rapid industrialization and urbanization and rising focus on environmental protection in countries like China and India are driving product demand.

Market Challenges: High production cost

The high production cost involved in manufacturing activated carbon is one of the major factors restraining the growth of the global activated carbon market. Activated carbon is produced through a process known as activation, where a carbonaceous source material like coal, coconut shell or wood is treated with chemicals or steam at high temperatures. This activation process requires huge amount of energy and leads to large capital investments in setting up production facilities.

Market Opportunities: Growth in developing regions

Growth in developing regions presents a significant opportunity for the global activated carbon market. Countries in Asia Pacific, South America, Middle East and Africa are witnessing rapid industrialization and infrastructure development. With improving economic conditions, consumption of processed food and beverages is also rising sharply in these regions. Stringent food safety regulations and increasing health consciousness have further boosted the demand for activated carbon as a key processing additive and purification agent.

Activated Carbon Market By Product Type

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Insights by Product Type: Powder Segment Drives Product Type Growth

In terms of product type, powder is expected to contribute 65.8% share of the market in 2024, owing to its widespread applications and adaptability. Powdered activated carbon is highly porous and adsorbent in nature, enabling it to effectively trap and remove a variety of impurities and contaminants from liquid and gas streams. Its fine particulate structure allows it to fully saturate matrices and absorb toxins more comprehensively than granular forms. Powder is commonly used in water treatment facilities to purify municipal water supplies and remove unwanted odors, tastes and toxins left over from disinfection processes. It helps plants meet stringent regulatory drinking water standards in a cost-efficient manner. Due to its small particle size, powder also demonstrates fast adsorption kinetics, quickly filtering out dissolved compounds. This makes it suitable for rapid transient applications and critical process streams that cannot tolerate prolonged exposure times. Furthermore, certain end-use sectors have specialized needs where only particulate activated carbons can fulfill. For instance, the pharmaceutical industry relies on powder to absorb excess moisture and ensure product uniformity in tableting. Its homogenized form allows for consistent dosage every time.

Insights by Raw material type: Coal Segment Dominates Raw Material Type

In terms of raw material type, coal is expected to contribute 29.8% share of the market in 2024, owing to its widespread availability, low cost and well-established production process. Coal-based activated carbon has been popular for many decades due its affinity for adsorbing various toxins, odorous molecules, and impurities. Its production involves the utilization of coal's organic carbon content and high carbon yields through controlled gasification and pyrolysis. This thermochemical activation methodology is a mature technology resulting in a consistent, predictable final product. Many existing activated carbon manufacturing sites are already set up to use coal as the primary feedstock due to existing infrastructure and operator expertise. Its value proposition as an economical option has sustained high demand levels particularly in cost-sensitive markets. Recent coal shortages and price volatility have not significantly diminished its market leadership position yet due to substantial captive reserves and long-term contracts held by top manufacturers. 

Insights by End User: Water Treatment Boosts the End-user Growth

In terms of end-user, water treatment is expected to contributes 30.1% share of the market in 2024, owing to stricter environmental regulations and the growing need for potable water worldwide. Activated carbon finds widespread application in municipal and industrial water purification plants to remove toxic compounds, excessive organic matter, dissolved solids and particulates that conventional filtration cannot eliminate. It helps augment the effectiveness of existing treatment trains and bridge technology gaps - critical for delivering clean water in compliance with global quality standards. The food & beverage industry also relies on activated carbon for wastewater recycling to lower its footprint. Other sectors are rising as well - pharmaceutical companies use it to polish process water feeds while semiconductor fabs demand ultra-pure water. The growing awareness about water conservation and scarcity is prompting investment in advanced treatment facilities leveraging adsorption technology. This will continue driving volumes across household, commercial and institutional projects needing potable or reusably clean water.

Regional Insights

Activated Carbon Market Regional Insights

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North America has established itself as the most dominant region in the global activated carbon market. The region accounts for over 32.3% of the worldwide demand in 2024, owing to a strong presence of major end-use industries such as water treatment and air purification in the U.S. and Canada. Stringent environmental regulations regarding water treatment along with mature industrial sector have propelled the product consumption in this region over the years. Strong industrial base of water treatment plants, pharmaceutical, and food & beverage industries rely on activated carbon for purification and processing applications. The presence of leading activated carbon producers such as Calgon Carbon Corporation and Cabot Corporation has made the North American activated carbon supply chain most robust globally. Both domestic as well as imported activated carbon cater the regional demand. Majority of the domestic supply comes from U.S. which is also a net exporter of activated carbon to other key markets. Developed industrial infrastructure and feasible logistic network helps producers as well as importers to maintain consistent supply. This well-established supply and demand balance has kept activated carbon prices stable and competitive in North America over the long term.

The activated carbon market in the Asia Pacific region has emerged as the fastest growing market globally. China dominates the Asia Pacific activated carbon market both in terms of production as well as consumption. Rapid industrialization and strict environmental policies have fueled the product demand from industries such as water treatment, air purification and food & beverages in China. Expanding middle-class population and developing economy of other Asian countries like India is also driving the growth. Developing regions in Asia Pacific offer lucrative growth opportunities to both international as well as domestic activated carbon companies with their huge industrial development plans. Rising exports from China have increased accessibility of affordable activated carbon for other Asian countries augmenting overall market growth. Favorable business environment and low production cost makes Asia Pacific an attractive market for long term investments.

Market Report Scope

Activated Carbon Market Report Coverage

Report Coverage Details
Base Year: 2023 Market Size in 2024: US$ 4.83 Bn
Historical Data for: 2019 To 2023 Forecast Period: 2024 To 2031
Forecast Period 2024 to 2031 CAGR: 9.7% 2031 Value Projection: US$ 9.23 Bn
Geographies covered:
  • North America: U.S. and Canada
  • Latin America: Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Rest of Latin America
  • Europe: Germany, U.K., Spain, France, Italy, Russia, and Rest of Europe
  • Asia Pacific: China, India, Japan, Australia, South Korea, ASEAN, and Rest of Asia Pacific
  • Middle East & Africa: GCC Countries, Israel, and Rest of Middle East & Africa
Segments covered:
  • By Product Type: Powder , Granular , and Others
  • By Raw Material Type: Coal , Coconut , Wood , and Others
  • By End-user: Water Treatment , Food & Beverage Processing , Pharmaceutical & Medical , Automotive , Air Purification , and Others 
Companies covered:

Carbon Activated Corporation, Jacobi Carbons Group, Boyce Carbon, CarbPure Technologies, Cabot Corporation, Kuraray Co., Carbo Tech AC GmbH, Donau Chemicals AG, Haycarb (Pvt) Ltd., Kureha Corporation, Osaka Gas Chemicals Co., Ltd., Evoqua Water Technologies LLC, Oxbow Activated Carbon LLC, Hangzhou Nature Technology Co., Ltd., Datong Coal Jinding Activated Carbon Co., Carb USA, and Sorbent JSC

Growth Drivers:
  • Growing industrial applications of activated carbon
  • Increased adoption for mercury removal 
Restraints & Challenges:
  • High production cost
  • Fluctuating raw material prices

Key Developments

  • On May 14, 2024, Organic Recycling Systems Limited, a leading provider of sustainable waste management solutions, announced the launch of its Alpha Carbon special platform for the activated carbon market
  • In May 2024, Indcarb Activated Carbon, a leading manufacturer of high-quality activated carbon products, announced the launch of its new inline water filters featuring coconut shell-based activated carbon materials
  • In March 2023, Evoqua Water Technologies LLC, a leading provider of water and wastewater treatment solutions, completed the acquisition of Bob Johnson & Associates, a Texas-based industrial water standard treatment service business. This strategic move was made to strengthen Evoqua's presence in North America.
  • In October 2022, Kuraray, a leading global specialty chemicals company, commenced its full-scale operations at its Feluy facility in Belgium. This decision was made after the company successfully tested the operations of its reactivated carbon production facilities, enabling its subsidiary, Calgon Carbon, to have a stable supply of activated carbon at a global level.

*Definition: The activated carbon market involves the production, distribution, and sales of activated carbon products. Activated carbon is a form of carbon that has been processed to make it extremely porous and thus have a very large surface area available for adsorption or chemical reactions. It is used for pollution control, gold purification, medicine, food and beverage processing, sewage treatment and more. The Activated Carbon Market deals in powdered, granular and extruded versions of activated carbon catering to various industries where it is used for filtration, deodorization and chemical absorption purposes.

Market Segmentation

  • Product Type Insights (Revenue, USD Bn, 2019 - 2031)
    • Powder
    • Granular
    • Others
  •  Raw Material Type Insights (Revenue, USD Bn, 2019 - 2031)
    • Coal
    • Coconut
    • Wood
    • Others
  •  End-user Insights (Revenue, USD Bn, 2019 - 2031)
    • Water Treatment
    • Food & Beverage Processing
    • Pharmaceutical & Medical
    • Automotive
    • Air Purification
    • Others
  • Regional Insights (Revenue, USD Bn, 2019 - 2031)
    • North America
      • U.S.
      • Canada
    • Latin America
      • Brazil
      • Argentina
      • Mexico
      • Rest of Latin America
    • Europe
      • Germany
      • U.K.
      • Spain
      • France
      • Italy
      • Russia
      • Rest of Europe
    • Asia Pacific
      • China
      • India
      • Japan
      • Australia
      • South Korea
      • ASEAN
      • Rest of Asia Pacific
    • Middle East & Africa
      • GCC Countries
      • Israel
      • Rest of Middle East & Africa
  • Key Players Insights
    • Carbon Activated Corporation
    • Jacobi Carbons Group
    • Boyce Carbon
    • CarbPure Technologies
    • Cabot Corporation
    • Kuraray Co.
    • Carbo Tech AC GmbH
    • Donau Chemicals AG
    • Haycarb (Pvt) Ltd.
    • Kureha Corporation
    • Osaka Gas Chemicals Co., Ltd.
    • Evoqua Water Technologies LLC
    • Oxbow Activated Carbon LLC
    • Hangzhou Nature Technology Co., Ltd.
    • Datong Coal Jinding Activated Carbon Co.
    • Carb USA
    • Sorbent JSC

Frequently Asked Questions

The CAGR of the activated carbon market is projected to be 9.7% from 2024 to 2031.

Growing industrial applications of activated carbon and increased adoption for mercury removal are the major factor driving the growth of the activated carbon market.

High production cost and fluctuating raw material prices are the major factors hampering the growth of the activated carbon market.

In terms of product type, powder is estimated to dominate the market revenue share in 2024.

Carbon Activated Corporation, Jacobi Carbons Group, Boyce Carbon, CarbPure Technologies, Cabot Corporation, Kuraray Co., Carbo Tech AC GmbH, Donau Chemicals AG, Haycarb (Pvt) Ltd., Kureha Corporation, Osaka Gas Chemicals Co., Ltd., Evoqua Water Technologies LLC, Oxbow Activated Carbon LLC, Hangzhou Nature Technology Co., Ltd., Datong Coal Jinding Activated Carbon Co., Carb USA, and Sorbent JSC are the major players.

North America is expected to lead the activated carbon market.

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