Process manufacturing: Global market for adsorbents to grow

The nanoporous and microporous adsorbents industry is a mature industry with a wide variety of products satisfying the requirements of well-established applications. However, the expanded scope and applicability of environmental regulations along with improving living standards around the world are stimulating significant increases in demand for these products. In addition to environmental forces, newly invented specialized nanoporous sorbent products are creating novel market opportunities in electronics manufacturing and biomedical industry sectors. Over the next half-decade significant change will take place in global microporous adsorbent products and applications.

According to a soon-to-be-released updated report   RC-180N Inorganic Nano and Microporous Adsorbent Materials from Business Communications Company, Inc. (www.bccresearch.com), the commercial applications global market for inorganic nanoporous and microporous adsorbents is currently estimated at over $1.77 billion. These include granular activated carbon (GAC), zeolites, clays, active alumina, silica gels, and other microporous materials. This market is expected to rise at an AAGR (average annual growth rate) of 3.7% to reach $2.12 billion by 2009.

Most of these adsorbent materials have attained best available technology (BAT) status in many of their prominent applications. Innovation remains very active in the area of porous structure and surface chemical reactivity, tailoring in nanoporous adsorbents. The second Bush administration's agenda on increased domestic oil drilling and relaxed environmental policies as well as the length of continued economic expansion in North America will affect growth for this market. Air and water purification applications in the environmental pollution control industry consume the majority of GAC production. GAC constitutes 19% of the total market size and is projected to grow on average annually at 4.6%. Its projected growth rate will be negatively affected by relaxed environmental legislation as well as continued dumping activity from overseas manufacturers.

Zeolites account for nearly 61% of the total market and thus heavily influence overall market growth rates. Their applications range from detergent builders to high-end catalyst supports in the chemical and petroleum industry. Overcapacity in low-end zeolites and reduced obsolescence of improved high-end products will limit its AAGR to 3.1% in the next 5 years.

Clay usage as adsorbents will be growing at an AAGR of 4.2% to a market size of $65 million in 2009. Clays are often used as adsorbents where purity is not a primary concern or as preliminary adsorbents upstream from other expensive adsorbents. Development of pillared intercalated layered clay (PILC) may offer a niche commercial opportunity during the forecast period.

Activated alumina adsorbents make common catalyst support in the chemical processing industry. Their application in chromatographic separation columns is expected to accelerate in the biochemical sector. In next 5 years, active alumina adsorbents are projected to grow on average annually at a rate of 4.1%.

Silica gels are the most common desiccants and drying agents. Their average annual growth rate will be fueled by applications in healthcare, building materials, and the high-end paper manufacturing industry.

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