Activated carbon, also known as activated charcoal, is a porous form of carbon which is made by processing with oxygen. It is in a non-graphite carbon form which is produced from any carbonaceous material such as coconut shell, paddy husk, wood, lignite, coir pith, coal, etc. It is used in refining and bleaching of chemical solutions and vegetable oils, recovery of solvents and other vapors, water purification, recovery of gold, in filters to protect against gases and in gas masks. It is available in various grades and forms, and finds frequent use in:
Food & Beverage Production
Activated carbon is manufactured using chemical activation and steam activation which is a two-step process. The first step includes carbonizing raw material such as coal, peat, coconut shell or any other material; the second step involves activating with the help of oxygen or chemical treatment to develop pores. Products manufactured from lignite, bituminous and anthracite, sub-bituminous, coconut shell charcoal and wood are the key activated carbon products that are used globally. Activated carbon can be classified as powdered carbon, granular carbon and others. Powdered carbon is used for water treatment and mercury removal and is made by chemical activation process. Granular carbon is made by steam activation process and is used in purification of gas.
The activated carbon market is a highly attractive and important one, owing to the following factors:
The implementation of MATS (Mercury and Air Toxic Standard) by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is a major driver for the market as industries will turn to ACI that uses activated carbon.
With provision of purified water to the population a major aim of Governments across the globe, and activated carbon playing a major role in water purification, the market will receive further boost across the globe.
It also finds critical application in vehicles, improving engine performance and reducing hydrocarbon emissions. This is again a major driving factor for the market.
With the focus now being continuously on environmental protection and recovery, the market is expected to make big inroads.
Use of regenerated or reactivated carbon by the industry, which helps in reducing the carbon footprint, again makes it an attractive prospect.
Key opportunities over the next few years include developing market for coal fired plants or for removing mercury from flue gas. The application areas include vapor, gas and liquid treatments such as removal of chlorine and its by-products, medicinal uses, in gas masks and water treatment. Additionally, it is used for decolorizing sweetener and sugar, off gas treatment, production of fine chemicals, deodorization of fruit juices, gold recovery, catalytic process, automotive transistors, etc. Carbons manufactured from coal or coconut shells are used in water filters. Prices of coal differ from country to country, with the U.S. and China deemed to be the most important ones.
The Asia Pacific region accounts for the largest market share, with water purification being the largest segment. The U.S. is the largest market in North America.
Major industry participants include:
Carbon Resources LLC
Calgon Carbon Corporation
Osaka Gas Chemical Co. Ltd.
Evoqua Water Technologies LLC.
Carbon Activated Corporation
Some of the major developments that have taken place over the past few years include:
In June 2019, Jacobi Carbons, headquartered in Ohio, partnered with Air 2 Public GmbH, a German company, to provide special materials for their technology involving the removal of Nitrous oxide from street air. This poisonous gas would be sent underground to an adsorption tower, where cleaning of the air would take place through use of activated carbon. The system would also be used to remove fine dust.
In May 2019, Carbon Activated Corporation announced a new facility at Mount Hope in West Virginia. Besides setting up operations for air and water purification, this development also resulted in the creation of 55 new jobs.
In September 2018, Kuraray Corporation, based in Japan, announced its acquisition of Calgon Carbon, headquartered in Pennsylvania. With this development, Kuraray would strengthen its focus on human health as well as environment sustainability through innovative products.
In July 2018, Cabot Corporation, based in Boston, Massachusetts, introduced the ‘NORIT® CNR 120 extruded activated carbon’, a product that focuses on maximum adsorption and desorption of volatile hydrocarbons. Additionally, it enables control of diurnal bleed loss as well as onboard refueling vapor recovery in automotive evaporative loss control devices (ELCD) that are found in gasoline fueled vehicles.
In August 2019, a team of research scientists at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, have announced a new method of containing and cleaning contaminated underwater sediments, which is a sediment cap made of sand, coated in PAC (Powdered Activated Carbon). The discovery will potentially be highly useful for cleaning the Hudson river, which has for decade been a dumping ground for toxic PCBs by companies. The technique has been prototyped and tested.
In-depth report on global activated carbon market by Grand View Research:
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