The global lignin market is expected to exceed 1.7 million tons by 2022. It bonds at a molecular level with any ingredient or solvent and thus is easily absorbed by the product. Thus, it is used in a wide range of end-uses including animal feed, binders, adhesives, concrete admixtures, bitumen, phenols, and vanillin. Growing demand for animal feed is anticipated to augment demand over the forecast period.
The use of this product as a key constituent in cement and concrete admixtures is likely to improve their quality and operational life. It has been gaining popularity owing to the potential applications including vanillin, carbon fibers, phenol, and BTX. Furthermore, owing to its biological origin, lignin has been approved for use in the production of insecticides, pesticides, emulsifier and heavy metal sequestrate.
Lignin has been gaining popularity over the past few years owing to its high market potential in applications including dispersants, carbon fibers, and bio-refineries. Natural oxidant property of the product allows it to be used in cosmetic and topical formulations. Lignosulphonate containing cosmetics are being developed for decorative use on skin and in other personal care applications.
Global lignin market, by product, 2012 – 2022 (Kilo Tons)
Lignosulfonates was the largest product segment, accounting for over 85% of global market share in 2014 owing to its use in a host of applications for manufacturing aromatics and macromolecules. Over the past few years, the lignosulfonate market has developed at a rapid pace owing to its extensive use for the production of animal feed, concrete admixtures as well as dust controllers.
Higher grades including Kraft, Organosolv and high purity are anticipated to witness the highest growth. Low penetration of these grades owing to its limited production and use as a result of high cost had resulted in sluggish growth over the past few years. However, the introduction of different varieties of these products is expected to provide lucrative opportunities for market growth. Demand for Kraft lignin is expected to exceed 180.0 kilo tons by 2022.
Sulfur-free lignin is used as additives in bio-fuel. Rising consumer awareness has resulted in an ever-escalating demand for bio-based products in Europe which is expected to boost the market over the forecast period. Furthermore, well-developed chemical and automobile manufacturing sector in this region are anticipated to drive growth.
Lignin was majorly used for manufacturing macromolecules exceeding 65% of global market volume in 2014. The increasing use of carbon fibers in construction and automotive industries as a lightweight material is expected to increase the importance of macromolecules. As a result, it is expected to find its application as an intermediate for the production of carbon fibers.
The market for lignin in aromatics was USD 224.4 million in 2014 and is likely to witness significant gains over the forecast period. Regulatory inclination towards reducing green house emissions and increasing awareness to earn carbon benefits has compelled polymer manufacturers to increase expenditure on the development of naturally derived raw materials. As a result, the product is likely to be utilized as an intermediate for the production of vanillin, phenol, BTX and phenolic resins. Surging bio-based polymers industry in light of growing awareness towards GHG emissions is expected to fuel demand for the manufacturing of aromatics over the forecast period.
At present, commercial use is restricted to only manufacturing macromolecules whereas its major potential lies in manufacturing aromatics, which is still in its development stage. Extensive R&D is being carried out on supercritical de-polymerization technology which is used for producing monomer phenolic compounds. This technique is already being used to extract fatty acids, essential oils, bioactive compounds and lipids from biological resources. The market potential for phenolic applications is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.8% over the forecast period.
Activated carbon can be produced from lignin, which has various applications including cleaning of hazardous emissions from water and air. Activated carbon is environment-friendly and has tremendous scope in the near future.
North America and Europe dominated the global industry, together accounting for over 70% of the volume share in 2014. Regulatory inclination towards the restriction of green house gas emissions coupled with a robust manufacturing base of bio-polymers in Germany, France, Netherlands and Belgium is anticipated to fuel demand.
The shifting trend among chemical manufacturers in the U.S. towards the use of bio-based raw material for manufacturing their products is expected to promote the application of bio-refinery and fuel demand as a catalyst in the near future. Construction industry growth in the U.S., Canada and Mexico is expected to fuel demand for concrete and cement which is expected to force manufacturers to increase their production capacities, subsequently driving growth.
Asia Pacific lignin market is expected to witness significant gains over the forecast period. Demand in the region exceeded 225 kilo tons in 2014. The increasing trend towards development of products through bio-based sources is expected to drive demand over the forecast period. In addition, the presence of a robust pulp & paper manufacturing industry in the region is anticipated to augment production.
Borregaard, Tembec, and Aditya Birla Group dominated the global lignin company market share in 2014. Borregaard Lignotech was the leading manufacturer in the same year. The company offers products for a variety of applications including battery additives, concrete admixtures, carbon black, dispersions, emulsions, fertilizers, gypsum boards, industrial binders, industrial cleaners & water treatment, ceramics and agricultural chemicals.
Key participants are carrying out R&D activities to improve production to increase its application scope. Recent studies have indicated that the use of the product in animal feed and the nutrient sector is likely to improve the efficiency of livestock, thereby improving food and grain production as well as quality.
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