The global activated carbon market is a highly dynamic and rapidly growing sector that spans across various regions and industries. Activated carbon, also known as activated charcoal, is a versatile and highly porous material that is widely used for adsorption, purification, and filtration purposes. The market for activated carbon is primarily driven by the increasing demand for clean and safe water and air, as well as the growing awareness of environmental pollution. The global activated carbon market is expected to continue its growth trajectory in the coming years, driven by increasing demand from various end-use industries, including water treatment, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and automotive. Additionally, the use of activated carbon in emerging applications such as energy storage, gas separation, and medical devices is expected to create new growth opportunities for the market in the near future. However, the market also faces several challenges, including raw material supply constraints, high production costs, and stringent environmental regulations, which may hinder its growth potential in certain regions. Nevertheless, with technological advancements and increasing investments in research and development, the global activated carbon market is poised for sustained growth in the years to come. Furthermore, the primary role of the product is the adsorption of dissolved organic impurities and the elimination of substances that affect the odor and taste. The adoption of activated carbon injection (ACI) technology has provided cost-effective methods for the purification process. These methods are primarily used in cement kilns and power plants for reducing mercury emissions. Growing pollution on account of emissions caused during product manufacturing has been a significant factor driving the market.
According to the research report, "Global Activated Carbon Market Research Report, 2028", published by Actual Market Research, the market is anticipated to reach USD 9.02 billion by 2028, with a significant CAGR of 6.55% during the forecast period, up from USD 6.22 billion in 2022. The global activated carbon market was dominated by Asia Pacific. As China and India are two of the major consuming countries, primarily for water treatment applications, it is expected to remain dominant throughout the forecast period. The Asia Pacific region's exponential population growth has resulted in an increased demand for pure and safe potable water, resulting in an increase in demand for activated charcoal. Furthermore, the ease of availability of raw materials and their low costs are expected to support market growth. Furthermore, the United States led the market in North America due to increased demand for water and air purification applications. Government regulations governing the disposal of industrial wastewater and gas emissions have increased the use of the product for removing contaminants such as CO2, mercury vapors, and other toxic gases. Furthermore, in Europe, strict standards and guidelines, as well as government initiatives to protect the environment, have resulted in an increase in demand for applications such as water treatment, mercury absorption, and air purification. Furthermore, regulations have influenced automotive manufacturers to use activated charcoal to reduce vehicle emissions. This is expected to open up several new markets for activated carbon in Europe.
Based on product type, the market is segmented into powdered activated carbon, granular activated carbon, extruded or pelletized activated carbon, and others. Powdered activated carbon is a popular product category in the global activated carbon market, with the largest market share expected in 2022. Because of its fine particle size, powdered activated carbon is easier to handle than other forms of activated carbon, such as GAC, extruded activated carbon, or pelletized activated carbon. It is easily mixed with water or other liquids and can be used in a wide range of equipment types, including fixed-bed absorbers, fluidized-bed absorbers, and slurry absorbers. Furthermore, granular activated carbon (GAC) is expected to have the highest CAGR of more than 8% in the global activated carbon market during the forecast period. Because of its larger particle size, GAC has a longer life cycle than other activated carbon products. As a result, GAC must be replaced less frequently, lowering operating costs.
The global market for activated carbon is classified into coal-based, coconut shell-based, wood-based, and others based on the raw material used in its production. The global activated carbon market is dominated by coal-based activated carbon. This is primarily due to the abundance of coal as a raw material and its low cost in comparison to other raw materials. Carbonizing bituminous coal and then activating it with steam or chemicals to create a highly porous structure yields coal-based activated carbon. Furthermore, during the forecast period, coconut shell-based activated carbon is expected to have the highest CAGR. Coconut shell-based activated carbon is produced by carbonizing coconut shells and then activating them using steam or chemicals to create a highly porous structure. It has a high surface area and high micro porosity, making it an excellent choice for water purification and air filtration applications.
The market is divided into two phases: liquid and gas. The global activated carbon market is dominated by liquid-phase activated carbon. Environmental regulations governing the discharge of contaminants into waterways drive the demand for liquid-phase activated carbon. By removing pollutants from wastewater streams, liquid-phase activated carbon can assist industrial facilities in meeting these regulations. During the forecast period, gas phase activation is expected to have the highest CAGR. Air purification with gas-phase activated carbon is common in industrial, commercial, and residential settings. The growing awareness of the negative effects of air pollution on human health is driving global demand for gas-phase activated carbon.
Water treatment, air purification, food and beverage processing, automotive, pharmaceuticals, and other end-use applications drive the global activated carbon market. The water treatment segment has the largest market share. In water treatment, activated carbon is commonly used to remove impurities and contaminants from drinking water, wastewater, and industrial process water. Organic compounds, pesticides, chlorine, and other chemicals that can cause unpleasant taste and odor, colour, and toxicity in water can be effectively removed by activated carbon. Furthermore, the pharmaceutical industry is expanding rapidly around the world, owing to an ageing population, an increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases, and rising healthcare costs. This is increasing the demand for high-quality, pure pharmaceutical products, which necessitate the use of activated carbon for purification and separation.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 3 million people, mostly children, die annually from water-related diseases. Across the globe, 845 million people lack basic access to pure drinking water supplies. An increase in water scarcity, climate change, and population growth are the key factors hampering the supply of safe and pure drinking water. Furthermore, activated carbon is largely used in air treatment or air filtration processes. The rise in industrialization and the growth in the number of coal-fired power plants are leading to an increase in air pollution. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 4.2 million people across the world die of air pollution every year. About more than 90% of the world’s population lives in places where the quality of the air is not good for health. This increases the need for purified air.
Government regulations are critical in the global activated carbon market. Various national and international regulatory bodies govern the production, import, and use of activated carbon. Environmental regulations have been implemented by governments all over the world to control the emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Activated carbon is used to reduce emissions in a variety of industries, including power plants, refineries, and cement manufacturing. Regulations requiring the use of activated carbon to meet emission standards apply to these industries. Governments also regulate the use of activated carbon in water and wastewater treatment to ensure that drinking water and discharge water meet safety standards. Whereas activated carbon can remove contaminants like organic matter, pesticides, and heavy metals, it is an essential component of water and wastewater treatment systems. Furthermore, governments regulate the import and export of activated carbon in order to protect domestic industries and prevent illegal product trade. Import/export duties and quotas apply to activated carbon, and trade agreements between countries can influence market dynamics.
There are several events and shows that cater to the activated carbon market globally. Some of these include International Activated Carbon Conference & Courses is an annual event that brings together leading experts, researchers, and industry professionals from around the world to discuss the latest trends, technologies, and developments in the activated carbon industry. The conference features technical sessions, keynote speeches, and panel discussions on various topics related to activated carbon production, applications, and markets. Furthermore, the International Powder and Bulk Solids Conference and Exhibition is a biennial event that focuses on powder and bulk solids handling technologies and related products, including activated carbon. The exhibition showcases the latest equipment, technologies, and services related to powder handling, processing, and storage. Moreover, the Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference is an annual event that brings together professionals in the water and wastewater industries, including those involved in the production and use of activated carbon for water treatment. The exhibition features the latest products, technologies, and services related to water and wastewater treatment, while the conference includes technical sessions on various water and wastewater treatment topics, including activated carbon use. Furthermore, Aquatech Amsterdam is a biennial event that focuses on water treatment and purification technologies, including those related to activated carbon. The exhibition features the latest products, technologies, and services related to water treatment, while the conference includes technical sessions on various water treatment topics, including activated carbon use.
• Based in India, Carbon Clean Solutions is a start-up that specializes in developing low-cost and efficient carbon capture technologies, including activated carbon-based systems. Their solutions are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes, particularly in the power and cement industries.
• Based in Canada, Enerkem is a start-up that focuses on converting waste into renewable chemicals and fuels using advanced gasification and activated carbon technologies. Their solutions are aimed at reducing waste and creating a sustainable circular economy.
• Based in Canada, Carbicrete is a start-up that specializes in producing carbon-negative building materials using activated carbon and industrial waste. Their solutions are aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of the construction industry.
• Based in Poland, Bioelektra Group is a start-up that focuses on developing innovative solutions for environmental protection, including activated carbon-based systems for air and water treatment. Their solutions are aimed at reducing pollution and improving the quality of life for people around the world.
• Based in the United States, Carbon Upcycling Technologies is a start-up that focuses on converting waste carbon dioxide into valuable products using activated carbon and other technologies. Their solutions are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating a more sustainable future.