Activated carbon finds its uses in various industrial segments for groundwater remediation, air purification, drinking water filtration, and cleaning up of oil spills. The demand for activated carbon is ever on the high especially since governments across the world have started offering grants and subsidies for air and water purification. In addition to this, the rapid pace of industrialization in regions such as the Asia Pacific will prove further lucrative for the overall growth of the activated carbon market.

The rising environmental concerns are also accentuating the requirement for activated carbon. Regulatory agencies are now issuing directives to curb mercury emissions caused by a variety of industries, for instance, petrochemicals. A variety of environmental regulations such as MATS (Mercury and Air Toxic Standard) which is issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are being introduced to reduce emissions of acidic gases from coal and similar power plants. Activated carbon efficiently helps in controlling these emissions, thus the formulation of such regulations is expected to drive the global demand.

Production Segments:

Industries that produce raw materials, such as sawdust and coconut shells produce significant quantities of activated carbon. Manufacturers and providers of these raw materials have now integrated their manufacturing processes to control the fluctuating prices of these raw materials. Significant materials producing activated carbon include coal, coconut shell, peat, wood pulp, and lignite. However, the majority of raw material manufacturers focus their activity on supplying coconut shells. Coconut shell is known for its natural hardness, which makes carbon black abrasion-resistant. The high content of carbon in the coconut shell creates a lot of foam which is used in production and also increases absorption capacity. Activated carbon created from coconut shell has a higher value of iodine than from that produced from coal, thus making it the most preferred raw material for manufacturing.

Impact of Metal and Electroplating Industry:

The process of metal finishing has witnessed a significant change over the past few decades. What was once an empirical craft has now evolved into a technology that is grounded on some basic principles, that is, electroplating. It is a kind of metal surface finishing that has its application in many end-user industries such as electrical and electronics, automotive, defence and aerospace, machinery parts and components, followed by many more. Electroplating is a process in which metal ions in a given solution are attached with a metal substrate through electrolytic deposition. It allows manufacturers to use inexpensive metals such as steel and zinc for their product, and afterwards apply different forms of electroplating on the surface to improve its appearance and to prevent it from corrosion.

Activated carbon is used extensively in metal and electroplating industry due to its ability to remove heavy metals in electroplating wastewater. Electroplating is witnessing a rising demand from end-user industries, which has propelled the market growth, which in turn has increased the demand for activated carbon. The global market for electroplating is also driven by electronics and electrical industry and is closely followed by the automobile industry. Electroplating is also utilized for the improvement of electrical conductivity of components and parts of electronic products. Emerging markets like China, South Korea, and India are witnessing immense economic growth that has increased electroplating demand, thus driving the activated carbon market.

Growth in Regional Markets:

North America and Western Europe collectively account for a significant value share in the electroplating market, thus driving demand for activated carbon. The markets in these regions are anticipated to be relatively mature as compared to that of the Asia Pacific. However, South Korea, China, and India are anticipated to provide significant opportunities for electroplating in the coming years, which will directly improve the demand for activated carbon.

Due to its ability to reduce impurities, activated carbon is extensively used in the removal of impurities in a variety of industrial applications. Manufacturers of electronic devices and products are obligated to coat their products using electroplating techniques. The rate at which electronic products are sold also inspires a robust growth in the market for activated carbon. In addition to this, automotive industries are now installing units that are dedicated for surface-coating, the majority of which will use electroplating methods to cover vehicles with a layer of non-corrosive protection. This, in turn, is expected to drive the demand for activated carbon.

The global market for electroplating is anticipated to grow at a constant rate in the upcoming years since the scope of its application is now rising enormously across the globe. While manufacturer preferences may differ in terms of expensive or inexpensive metals, the increased demand for metal and electroplating will drive further production for carbon black.