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Molecular sieves are materials that have small pores of uniform size. These pores permit the molecules of small dimension to enter the sieve, while separating the larger molecules. Therefore, molecular sieve is used as a catalyst in the petrochemical industry for the separation of impurities in unprocessed crude oil. These are crystalline alumina–silicates, which are known as zeolites. Moreover, these are environment friendly, therefore, are used as substitute to hazardous chemicals in various industrial applications. Phosphochloric acid and aluminum chloride were used as catalyst primarily in the petroleum and petrochemical industry. However, they were not easily disposable, hence, molecular sieves catalyst is used as a substitute in these industries. 

Market Dynamics

Increasing demand for high performance catalysts that yield higher output especially from the oil and gas industry is one of the key drivers for growth of the global molecular sieve catalyst market. Growth in refining applications has further propelled growth of the market for molecular sieve catalyst, globally. Moreover, government initiatives and rising awareness regarding the advantages offered by using molecular sieve catalyst such as improving energy efficiency, reducing emissions in automobile exhaust, and other such environment benefits have further propelled growth of global molecular catalyst market.

According to the American Chemistry Society (ACS), molecular sieves when used to separate light olefins from light paraffin is more efficient and is expected to replace the solvent processes used in refineries. However, metals, enzymes, and other compounds as a substitute to these catalysts, is one of the key restraints for growth of the global molecular sieves catalyst market.

Oil and gas segment accounted for a major share in the global molecular sieve catalyst market in 2017. This catalyst is used in hydrocracking, which converts higher molecular weight petroleum fractions to lower molecular weight fuels and therefore is used significantly in this industry

Petrochemical segment accounted for a significant share in the molecular sieve catalyst market in 2017. In this industry, molecular sieve is used to purify feedstock and to remove dry impurities from products such as propylene and ethylene. Others applications of this catalyst in the petrochemical industry are drying and purification of olefins, drying in cracked gas to prevent freezing, purification, and dehydration of a range of solvents and other such applications. Owing to these factors, the segment is expected to witness high growth over the forecast period.

Market Outlook

Asia Pacific exhibited significant growth in the global molecular sieve catalyst market in 2017. This is owing increasing footprint of local and other major players in this region. For instance, in 2017, Arkema Group opened a specialty molecular sieve facility at its Honfleur site in France. This facility is expected to cater to customers in the Asia Pacific and Middle East region.

Europe is expected to account for a significant share in terms of revenue, in the global molecular sieve catalyst market over the forecast period. One of the factors aiding in growth of the market in this region is increasing investment in production of molecular sieve catalyst by key players in the region. For instance, in 2017, BASF SE invested in producing specialty zeolites at its Ludwigshafen, Germany site. These zeolites will be used to produce emission catalysts for light and heavy duty vehicles. Moreover, in 2016, Silkem Ltd. developed activated zeolite molecular sieve products under its Asorbio brand name. These molecular sieve contain intra-crystalline water in their structures, which can be removed by thermal treatment.

North America contributed a significant share in the global molecular sieve catalyst market in 2017. Growing oil and gas sector is expected to drive growth of the molecular sieves catalyst market in this region. Also, increasing investment by key players in the region to expand production facilities is expected to aid in growth of the market in North America. For instance, in 2012, UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, invested US$ 20 million for expanding its production facility in Mobile, Alabama, for producing catalysts and adsorbents, which are used by the refiners and petrochemical producers.

Major players in the market are focusing on mergers, acquisitions, partnership, and new product launches in order to enhance their business in the competitive market. For instance, in 2015, Brenntag AG, a Germany-based chemical distribution company, and CECA SA—manufacturer of specialty chemicals—signed an agreement for the distribution of molecular sieves for the oil and gas applications in Europe.

Major players in global molecular sieve catalyst market include BASF SE, Arkema Inc., Albemarle Corporation, W. R. Grace and Company, Silkem Ltd., Sinopec Group, and JGC Catalysts & Chemicals Ltd., among others.

Market Taxonomy

Global molecular sieve catalyst market is segmented into:

By Material

  • Microporous Zeolite Catalyst
  • Mesoporous Zeolite Catalyst

By End-use Industry

  • Oil & Gas
  • Petrochemical
  • Others

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