September 13, 2010 08:08 ET

Demand for Virgin Activated Carbon to Expand 9% Annually Through 2014

ROCKVILLE, MD--(Marketwire - September 13, 2010) - has announced the addition of Freedonia Group Inc.'s new report "World Activated Carbon," to their collection of Energy market reports. For more information, visit

World demand for virgin activated carbon is forecast to expand an impressive 9.0 percent per annum through 2014 to 1.7 million metric tons. According to the report, the US represents the largest national market for activated carbon in the world, and through 2014, the country will also pace global growth. This extremely optimistic outlook is based on new US federal environmental regulations mandating mercury removal at coal-fired power plants by 2014. A number of states have already passed their own regulations, resulting in US activated carbon demand from coal fired power plants rising significantly in 2009. If federal regulations pass, which is likely, gains are expected to really take off in 2013 and 2014.

Demand in the US will also be aided by regulations that will require mercury control at cement kilns and at industrial boilers. Moreover, according to Freedonia, demand from the water sector will benefit from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Stage 2 Disinfection Byproducts Rule (DBP Rule). This rule was promulgated in 2006 and establishes maximum levels at which disinfection byproducts (DBPs) are permitted to be present in drinking water supplies. DBPs are potentially harmful compounds that are formed when chlorine that is used to disinfect drinking water reacts with naturally occurring organic materials in the water. By removing the organic materials, activated carbon prevents the formation of DBPs.

Unlike the US, the report states, where federal regulations will dictate demand growth, strong gains of around nine percent per year in China's market for activated carbon will result from continuing healthy economic growth in the country. All end uses for activated carbon in China will benefit from this economic growth. Although the country relies on coal to supply a majority of its energy requirements, US type mercury removal regulations are unlikely to pass in China in the near future.

Demand for activated carbon in Western Europe and Japan will register weak gains through 2014, according to Freedonia. In Western Europe, there is some concern that coal will make a comeback (something that is already occurring in Italy) as a key source of energy supply due to declining oil and gas reserves in the North Sea, the pending end of life for some nuclear power plants in the region, and security issues and public disapproval preventing further reliance on energy imports from Russia. If coal fired power plants proliferate in Western Europe, they are likely to also use activated carbon to curtail mercury emissions.

Global supply of activated carbon is concentrated in the hands of a small number of large producers. The top eight producers supplied around three-quarters of the global market for virgin activated carbon in 2009. Most remaining producers are based in China and Southeast Asia, and typically produce low cost powdered activated carbon. Per the report, a new entrant to the market, ADA-ES, intends to capture a sizable portion of US activated carbon demand arising from the mercury removal market. In 2010, the company plans to open the world's largest powdered activated carbon plant in Louisiana.

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