US demand to rise 11.2% annually through 2017
US demand for activated carbon, including virgin and reactivated products sold by activated carbon suppliers, is expected to grow 11.2 percent per year to almost 1.3 billion pounds in 2017, with market value reaching almost $1.8 billion. Implementation of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) will drive most of the growth, as utilities and industrial manufacturers upgrade their coal-fired power plants to comply with the regulations. Compliance with the EPA’s Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts (DBP) Rules, which will be fully implemented by 2015, will lead to healthy gains in water treatment applications as well. Additionally, rising motor vehicle production, increased pharmaceutical output, and improving economic conditions will drive strong growth in several smaller applications.
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New EPA mandates to be main driver of demand
Implementation of the EPA’s new mercury removal standards will be the single most important factor impacting activated carbon demand through 2017. Mercury-emitting industrial facilities such as coal-fired power plants, cement kilns, solid waste incinerators, and other plants with large industrial boilers will predominantly turn to activated carbon injection (ACI) systems to meet these requirements. With an ACI system in a large industrial facility consuming up to two million pounds of powdered activated carbon annually, the phase-in of these new rules is expected to have a powerful impact on activated carbon demand, and powdered products will expand their market share to 70 percent of total US demand in 2017. As powdered activated carbon is generally not reactivated, sales of powdered activated carbon are expected to remain high even beyond the phase-in deadline for the mercury removal standards.
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Compliance with EPA regulations will also boost activated carbon demand in water treatment applications. Demand will increase by over 50 million pounds through 2017 as the EPA’s DBP Rules go into full effect. While some compliance with the DBP Rules had been achieved by 2012, the final phase-in of the Rules will continue to promote growth. The majority of activated carbon used to address DBPs will be granular activated carbon, making water treatment applications the best growth opportunity for suppliers of granular products, both virgin and reactivated.
Smaller applications to also see strong growth
Among the smaller uses for activated carbon, motor vehicle applications, including emissions canisters and cabin air filters, will benefit from rebounding US motor vehicle production. Increased pharmaceutical output will promote demand for activated carbon in pharmaceutical and medical applications. Mining applications will also register gains, as increased processing will be necessary to maximize mine output. An improving economy will promote demand for activated carbon in chemical purification and other industrial processes. Many of these smaller applications use highervalue specialty products, such as activated carbon fiber or cloth and carbon monoliths, boosting demand in value terms despite accounting for a small share of overall volume demand. On the other hand, activated carbon use in food and beverage processing and solvent recovery will remain stable.
Company Profiles for competitors in the US industry such as Calgon Carbon, MeadWestvaco, and Norit (Cabot)
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