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Global activated carbon industry supply analysis: The public’s attention to health issues has boosted activated carbon production capacity year by year.
In recent years, with the continuous development of global activated carbon technology, the capacity of the activated carbon industry has been rapidly increasing. According to Statista data, the global total production of activated carbon has grown from 1.962 million tons in 2016 to 3.311 million tons in 2021.
What is activated carbon? Activated carbon, or activated charcoal, is generally used in air aspiration and water treatment for environmental protection. The biggest characteristic of industrial activated carbon is its fast adsorption speed and well-developed pore structure, which enable it to effectively treat exhaust gas and wastewater. Industrial activated carbon is mainly composed of three main materials: coconut shell, wood, and coal. It comes in three different shapes: granular, powdered, and honeycomb. The activated carbon plant is complex and requires advanced technology and professional activated carbon equipment. It is now widely used all over the world.
Global activated carbon industry regional layout
In the past, traditional production powerhouses for the global activated carbon industry included countries and regions such as the United States, Japan, and the Netherlands. However, due to constraints on raw materials and the continuous increase in production costs in these countries, the activated carbon industry has gradually shifted to developing countries.
Developed countries and regions in North America, Japan, and Western Europe have seen a gradual decline in activated carbon production, while their domestic market demand continues to grow steadily. However, their domestic production of activated carbon cannot fully meet the various demands, leading to a significant need for imports to supplement their requirements.
China, with its efforts to reduce overcapacity in the coal industry and transform coal enterprises, along with increasing governmental support for environmental protection, has experienced continuous expansion in the overall production capacity and market size of the activated carbon industry in recent years. As a result, its competitiveness has also been continuously strengthening. Currently, China’s activated carbon production capacity has reached close to half of the global total.
Global Activated Carbon Application
Since the 1970s, the environmental protection industry has gradually become the main consumption market for activated carbon in developed countries. Traditionally, activated carbon has been widely used in industries such as sugar production, fermentation, pharmaceuticals, food, light industry, medicine, metallurgy, chemical engineering, and defense. In recent years, with social development, activated carbon has found broader new applications in high-tech fields closely related to human living environments, such as environmental protection, water purification, air separation, electronic information, atomic energy and biotechnology, nanomaterials, high-energy electrode materials, and efficient catalyst carriers.
According to Mordor Intelligence data, in terms of revenue market share, in 2020, the largest demand for activated carbon was in the water treatment field, accounting for approximately 46.94% of the total market share. The following sectors ranked in demand were industrial applications, food and beverage industry, health and wellness, automotive, and other industries, with shares of 31.38%, 7.50%, 5.28%, 4.72%, and 4.18%, respectively.
These data indicate that the application of activated carbon in the environmental protection industry is gradually becoming a driving force, playing a crucial role in water treatment. Meanwhile, its applications in other industries are also increasing, providing effective solutions for various sectors. With technological advancements and increasing emphasis on environmental protection, the application fields of activated carbon are expected to continue expanding and deepening.
Regional Consumption Analysis of Global Activated Carbon
In terms of regional distribution of activated carbon demand, China, the United States, the European Union, and Japan are the main consumption regions, with China being the world’s second-largest consumer of activated carbon after the United States. In recent years, with the continuous economic development of developing countries, industrial growth has led to increasingly prominent environmental pollution issues. As a result, countries have been strengthening their efforts in environmental governance and protection, thereby driving rapid growth in activated carbon consumption in these regions.
In the case of China, the increasing demand for water in the industrial sector, coupled with changing regulations regarding water pollution prevention and control action plans by the government, has increased the country’s demand for activated carbon used in water treatment. At the same time, in recent years, the market size of China’s food and beverage as well as industrial sectors has been continuously expanding, driving the constant growth in activated carbon demand. According to Mordor Intelligence data, it is predicted that the Asia-Pacific region will maintain the highest growth rate in global activated carbon consumption from 2021 to 2026, with China’s activated carbon consumption rate becoming a major driving force behind the overall high growth rate in the Asia-Pacific region.
global activated carbon industry trend
The global activated carbon industry is expected to follow four main trends in the future:
- Steady growth in traditional market demand, with upgrading demand levels and a surge in demand from emerging markets.
- Diversified competition landscape, as activated carbon manufacturing shifts from developed countries to developing countries.
- Continuous innovation in new production and application technologies, leading to the emergence of high-functional and highly adaptive products.
- Continuous expansion of application fields, with service becoming a crucial factor in the competition within the activated carbon industry.
Overall, the main production capacity for activated carbon has shifted from developed countries to developing countries, especially to China and Southeast Asian countries. In the 1990s, due to increasingly strict environmental regulations and rising labor costs in developed countries like Europe and the United States, as well as the scarcity of resources essential for activated carbon production, major activated carbon producers like the United States, Japan, the Netherlands, and others transferred their energy-intensive and low-value-added mid-to-low-end activated carbon production capacity to developing countries. In particular, China, with its abundant coal resources, and Southeast Asian countries, with rich forestry resources, became significant destinations for this shift. However, the domestic demand for activated carbon in developed countries continues to grow steadily, making them remain major demand contributors to the global activated carbon market.
Tips for activated carbon business investment
For investors looking to get into the activated charcoal business, here are some pieces of advice for someone looking to establish an activated carbon plant:
- Market Research and Business Plan: Conduct thorough market research to understand the demand for activated carbon in various industries and applications. Develop a comprehensive business plan that outlines your goals, target markets, production capacity, investment requirements, and projected revenue.
- Location and Infrastructure: Choose a suitable location for your plant, considering factors like proximity to raw materials, transportation facilities, and target markets. Ensure that the infrastructure, utilities, and regulatory environment support your production processes.
- Raw Material Supply: Activated carbon can be produced from various raw materials, such as coconut shells, wood, coal, and more. Secure a consistent and reliable supply of high-quality raw materials for your production.
- Production Technology: Research and invest in appropriate production technology that aligns with your business goals and the quality standards of the industry. The production process involves activation methods, drying, and other treatment stages that require specialized equipment.
- Environmental Regulations: Activated carbon production can have environmental impacts, so it’s crucial to adhere to local and international environmental regulations. Implement sustainable practices and consider waste management, emissions control, and resource conservation.
- Quality Control: Maintaining consistent product quality is essential to build a strong reputation in the market. Establish quality control measures at different production stages to ensure the activated carbon meets industry standards and customer requirements.
- Certifications and Standards: Depending on your target markets, consider obtaining certifications like ISO, NSF, or others that validate the quality and safety of your products. Adhering to industry standards can enhance your market credibility.
- Skilled Workforce: Hire skilled professionals with experience in the activated carbon industry. Your team should include experts in production, quality control, research and development, and operations.
- Financial Planning: Prepare a detailed financial plan that covers initial investment, operational expenses, working capital, and anticipated revenue. Seek funding sources such as investors, loans, or grants if needed.
- Marketing and Distribution: Develop a marketing strategy to promote your products to potential clients. Establish strong distribution channels to ensure timely delivery to your customers.
- Continuous Innovation: Stay updated with industry trends, new technologies, and emerging applications for activated carbon. Innovate to meet changing market demands and maintain a competitive edge.