Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) activated carbon market was worth USD 94.6 million in 2015. Activated carbons are porous in nature and are derived from agricultural waste materials such as palm shells, walnut shells, sugarcanes, biogases, date stones, pecan shells, and cotton stocks. They find wide applications in areas mainly including water purification, separation, decolorization, deodorization of vegetable oils & fats, pollution treatment, air & gas purification, food & beverages processing, and pharmaceuticals.
Water scarcity is a predominant feature of the GCC countries. Groundwater reserves are scarce due to low rainfalls. Growing demand from agricultural sector is also contributing to this feature. Strict regulations and norms have been imposed for water recycle and re-usage. Activated carbon effectively carries out wastewater treatment function due to its high adsorbing capacity. Demand for water reuse techniques is bound to increase in GCC during the forecast period and is thus expected to compliment GCC activated carbon market growth.
Saudi Arabia activated carbon market revenue, by product, 2014 - 2024, (USD Million)
Activated carbon, when saturated, can be brought to 95% of its original adsorbing capacity by regeneration processes. These methods include thermal, steam, biological and chemical process. Thermal regeneration process requires higher power consumption than a chemical process. Chemical regeneration implies treating exhausted carbon with chemicals to restore their adsorbing capacity.
Moreover, the regenerated activated carbon is has been found to be less costly, possess same size, and particle distribution as of virgin activated carbon. The recent developments in regeneration processes in the recent past are expected to carry a similar trend over the forecast period. These developments in regeneration processes coupled with the cost-effectiveness of regenerated activated carbon are anticipated to fuel GCC activated carbon market demand.
It has been observed in the recent past that GCC countries have higher emission rates. Due to growing concerns of international and GCC regulatory agencies steps have been taken to curb rising pollution. Activated carbon is used to absorb Co2 and other contaminants arising from industries. Government initiatives to curb rising pollution are likely to benefit GCC activated carbon market growth during the forecast period.
GCC region is characterized by the presence of a large number of refineries. These refineries emit toxic mercury particles which are a cause of concern among the local regulatory agencies. Laws have been implemented to reduce mercury emissions arising from refineries.
Activated carbon is used for efficient absorption of suspended mercury particles from smoke stemming from various refinery processes. The formulation of strict laws and the inclination of refineries to adopt activated carbon purification processes due to its effectiveness together are forecasted to benefit GCC activated carbon market growth.
Activated carbon is classified as powdered activated carbon, granular activated carbon, and other activated carbon products. Other activated carbon products include functional activated carbons, activated carbon clothes, and membranes. Powdered activated carbon is mainly used for adsorption of organic pollutants. It accounted for over 50% of GCC activated market revenue in 2015.
Granular activated carbon market in GCC was worth over USD 30.0 million in 2015 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.4% during the forecast period. Granular activated carbon is reported to be cheaper than powdered activated carbon and finds applications in thermal and chemical regeneration processes.
The major applications of activated carbon include liquid as well as gas phase. Liquid phase application for activated carbon accounted for over 55% in 2015. Liquid phase activated carbon is mainly used to remove contaminants from ground water.
Gas phase application accounted for over 40% in 2015. These are mainly used to treat exhaust gasses and free them from heavy metal contaminants.
End use of activated carbon includes water treatment, refinery, food & beverages processing, pharmaceuticals & medicals, air purification, precious metal recovery, sewage treatment and other. Government norms, strict treatment practices are forecasted to benefit the market demand. To provide high packaged food quality, activated carbons are used to make food processes contaminant free.
Activated carbons are widely used to treat precious metals like aluminum, and gold. Customized activated carbons are used for these purposes. Activated carbon used in water treatment accounted for more than 45% in 2015 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.6% from 2016 to 2024.
Saudi Arabia dominated GCC activated carbon market and accounted for more than 50% market demand in 2015. The presence of a large number of refineries and implementation of strict water treatment processes are the primary reasons. Date palms which are used as raw materials for activated carbon production are also found in abundance in Saudi Arabia.
Qatar activated carbon market demand is expected to witness fast growth over the next eight years and is anticipated to follow a CAGR of 19.8% over the forecast period. Countries such as Bahrain & Oman are also witnessing significant growth.
GCC activated carbon market is characterized by the presence of major international players. The companies are trying to integrate their raw material procurement processes for efficient production. They are trying to increase their regional presence by developing efficient channels of distribution.
Development of functional activated carbons is the major industry characteristic. Regeneration services are also provided by some of the participants. ADA-ES, Boyce Carbon, Cabot Norit Corp., Jacobi Carbons AB, Kuraray Co. Ltd, Kureha Corporation, Veolia water solutions, Calgon Carbon Corporation, CECA, and Haycarb, are the major industry participants.
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