NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                    FEBRUARY 2015

Activated Carbon Sales for Air Pollution to Reach $1 Billion - $2 Billion/yr. By 2020

Sales of activated carbon for air pollution control systems were less than $400 million in 2014.  The demand will grow substantially. There are a number of variables which could limit the market to just $1 billion in 2020 or cause it to grow to over $2 billion. These variables include:

  • Price per pound of carbon. This is determined less by competition than the expanded requirements to remove mercury and be cement ready.  The newest impregnated powdered carbons are twice as efficient as the older products but more expensive.
  • The adoption of stringent mercury reduction rules throughout the world.  The U.S. has stringent rules. China is moving toward similar levels of stringency.
  • The future of coal-fired power. While new coal-fired power plants are few and far between in the U.S. and Western Europe, they are the fuel of choice for new generators in Asia.
  • Competition from other sorbents such as kaolin and bentonite.
  • Competition from other technologies such as the combination of wet scrubbing and oxidation chemicals.
  • The use of activated carbon to prevent mercury reemissions, to capture selenium and hazardous organics.

The biggest near-term market is in the U.S.  Over the next few years the U.S. coal-fired power demand for activated carbon will be more than 50 percent of the total for all industries worldwide.  China has the potential to pass the U.S. as the leading purchaser by 2020. It has the world’s largest capacity in cement and coal-fired generation and is already using activated carbon on its solid waste incinerators. 

Activated carbon companies will be able to meet demand.  In 2012, the world activated carbon supply capacity was 3.5 billion lbs. (granular plus powdered). Demand was below 3 billion lbs.  In the 2013-2014 period, both demand and supply grew. There are growing demands in water and wastewater as well as air pollution control. So the industry expects to be able to supply 4 billion lbs. in 2017.

All the variables which could impact the market are continually analyzed in the McIlvaine publication N056 Mercury Air Reduction Market