Catalyst - An Overview
A catalyst is a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction without getting consumed. Thus, it can be recovered in its original form at the end of the reaction. Catalysts are a necessary part of all chemical reactions in the industrial sector.
The total volumes in the global catalyst market in 2013 were 6,250 kilo tons. They are expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.1% from 2014 to 2020. The market will be valued at USD 27 billion by 2020. It will mainly be driven by growing demand for energy.
Catalysts are an integral part of petroleum refining. They are used in various refinery processes like hydroprocessing, cracking, and reforming. Rising environmental awareness is leading to the adoption of green technologies. Growing need for efficient industrial processes is contributing high demand for catalysts.
Chemical synthesis is a key application of catalysts. Growth in the chemical manufacturing industry will also lead to higher demand for catalysts.
Precious metals, an important raw material for catalysts, are subject to fluctuating prices. This poses a problem for the market. Rapidly depleting reserves of crude oil will adversely affect petroleum refining. This is also bound to hamper the demand for catalysts.
The catalyst market is divided into homogeneous, and heterogeneous coatings, based on products. Homogenous coatings will witness high demand due to unique properties like high activity and diverse applications.
Heterogeneous catalysts were the leading product in 2013. Their volumes surpassed 4,850 kilo tons that year. Stationery, chemical, polymer, and refinery are the main applications of the heterogeneous segment.
Main raw materials in the catalyst market are metals, zeolites, chemical compounds, and others. Chemical compounds are split into adsorbents, chemical synthesis catalysts, polyolefins, and others. Chemical compounds are used in polymerization and chemical synthesis.
Chemical compounds accounted for more than 39% of the total demand in 2013. They are foreseen to grow the fastest, at a CAGR of 3.3%, over the next five years. They are cheaper than metals and zeolites. Zeolites and metals are widely used in the petroleum sector, especially in emission control.
According to applications, the catalyst market is segmented into chemical, petroleum refining, environmental, and polymer industries. In the inorganic chemical industry, catalysts are incorporated into processes like the conversion of ammonia into nitric acid, Haber process, Contact process, etc.
Acidic catalysts are used in organic chemistry for benzene nitration, esterification, acid catalyzed hydrolysis of esters, etc. In the petrochemical sector, catalysts are used in isomerization, catalytic cracking, etc. Chemical synthesis, with volumes exceeding 1,780 kilo tons, was the leading application in 2013. This was chiefly due to growing demand for chemicals, especially in the Asian Pacific and Latin American markets.
Environmental catalysis is yet another important application. It contributed more than 28% to the total market volumes in 2013. Growing emphasis on the production of cleaner fuels and adoption of green manufacturing will create demand for environmental catalysis in the future. This segment will grow at the fastest rate, i.e. at a CAGR of 3.8% from 2014 to 2020.
The regions include Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, and ROW - rest of the world. Asia Pacific, with 33.5 % share in total volumes, was the leading market in 2013. It plays an important role in the overall growth of the market. Asia Pacific is also store to almost 31% of the global petroleum refining capacity.
The European catalyst market will be driven by strict environmental regulations imposed by the EU - European Commission and national governments. North America has the highest number of petroleum refineries. Consequently, several catalyst manufacturers execute their operations here. These factors will contribute added demand for North America.
Some notable players in the catalyst market are UOP LLC, Zeolyst International Inc., INEOS Group Ltd., Evonik Industries AG, Johnson Matthey PLC., Exxon Mobil Corporation, BASF SE, Eka Chemicals AB., and E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company.
Other participants include Clariant International Ltd., Arkema Group, Air Products and Chemicals Inc., W.R. Grace & Company, and Chevron Corporation.
Research Support Specialist, USA