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Green chemical industry to soar to $98.5 billion by 2020

According to a new report from Pike Research, green chemistry represents a market opportunity that will grow from $2.8 billion in 2011 to $98.5 billion by 2020. The report examines the three major segments of the green chemical market: waste...


June 21, 2011
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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According to a new report from Pike Research, green chemistry represents a market opportunity that will grow from $2.8 billion in 2011 to $98.5 billion by 2020. The report examines the three major segments of the green chemical market: waste minimization in conventional synthetic chemical processes, green replacements for conventional chemical products, and the use of renewable feedstocks to produce chemicals and materials with smaller environmental footprints than those produced by current processes.

“Green chemistry markets are currently nascent, with many technologies still at laboratory or pilot scale,” says Pike Research president Clint Wheelock, “and many production-scale green chemical plants are not expected to be running at capacity for several more years. However, most green chemical companies are targeting large, existing chemical markets, so adoption of these products is limited less by market development issues than by the ability to feed extant markets at required levels of cost and performance.”

Pike Research forecasts that green alternatives in the polymer sector will represent the highest penetration level (5.7%) within the total chemical market, as it is somewhat more developed than the other key sectors.

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The report notes that there has been a great deal of activity in the development of renewable feedstocks for a wide range of chemical processes, both replacements for commonly used “merchant molecules” and new compounds with interesting and commercially valuable properties. Most renewable feedstocks are produced through biological processes (primarily fermentation of plant sugars into the desired compounds or their intermediates) or thermal and chemical processes applied to cellulosic materials such as wood, agricultural waste, or non-food plants like switchgrass.

According to the Pike Green Chemistry report, much of the bio-based segment is nascent. However, this segment “perhaps has the greatest long-term potential to revolutionize the chemical industry.” Technologies are just a few steps beyond the laboratory and production facilities are a few years from reaching their modest full production levels. The bio-based segment of the market excluding biofuels is liable to grow slowly over the next few years.

An executive summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website. Pike Research is a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets.