The global flow chemistry market size was worth USD 1.43 billion in 2021. It is estimated to reach an expected value of USD 3.73 billion by 2030 at a CAGR of 11.24% over the forecast period (2022-2030).
Flow chemistry involves the continuous flow of chemical processes to develop intermediates chemicals. In this technology, two or more reagents are constantly supplied into the reactor, reacting to produce the required chemical. Flow chemistry has recently gained popularity in preparing specialty and fine chemicals, particularly natural products and APIs. Continuous flow technology helps lower the number of manufacturing steps, resulting in cost reduction. Easy temperature control and optimum operation under isothermal conditions result in low maintenance costs for this technology. Flow chemistry plays a vital role in drug discovery and manufacturing pharmaceutical products.
The global flow chemistry market is divided by reactor type, application, and region.
Flow chemistry is one of the most effective ways to solve green chemistry and green energy issues. Efficient use of energy and time plays a critical role in green chemistry and engineering. A fast reaction requires less time and smaller reactors, allowing economical use of space. While the temperature conditions in a batch reactor are limited to the atmospheric boiling point of the reagents, pressure and temperature conditions in a continuous flow reactor can vary beyond the atmospheric conditions. This results in improving space and time efficiency. In addition, flow reactors are highly suitable for performing rapid exothermic reactions, which are challenging to be completed in a batch reactor. The elevated surface area to volume ratio of flow reactors allows quick removal of excess thermal energy, ultimately reducing the risk of thermal runaway.
Flow reactors are compatible with numerous green solvents, including methanol and acetone, which have a low boiling point for specific batch processes. These reactions can be safely carried out in a flow reactor under high pressure and elevated temperatures. In addition, the use of continuous flow methods for extraction, chromatography, and reactions with supercritical fluids provides several advantages over the batch process.
The ability of flow reactors to provide high yield in less time and with a lower quantity of materials, coupled with the generation of less waste, is expected to impact the growth of the flow chemistry market positively. Factors including lower capital cost & equipment needs, reduced energy consumption, low physical footprint, high economic gains, increased operational and worker efficiency, and opportunities for on-demand production of chemicals lead to high sustainability in chemical synthesis through flow chemistry. Moreover, increasing pressure for reduction in waste generation and elimination of non-renewable methods for production are likely to augment the demand for flow reactors over the forecast period.
The pharmaceutical industry is driven by progress in the medicinal field and bioscience. Furthermore, growing health awareness among consumers in Asia-Pacific, particularly in developing countries like China and India, along with the growing disposable income of consumers, is anticipated to boost the growth of the pharmaceutical industry over the forecast period. The U.S., the UK, and Europe have dominated the pharmaceutical market over the past decade; however, they face significant competition from emerging economies such as Brazil, India, and China.
The emerging economies, such as China, India, and Brazil, have witnessed a drastic change in healthcare infrastructure. Therefore, the one-size-fits-all approach cannot be adopted for emerging markets. Even among the leading market clusters - the BRICMT economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China, Turkey, and Mexico, and the second-tier countries in Southeast Asia and Africa — local peculiarities make bespoke approaches to these markets essential. Continuous flow technology helps lower the number of steps required for manufacturing, which leads to a reduction in cost.
Establishing a new continuous flow facility typically requires four times less capital expenditure than that of a batch facility. Moreover, constant flow requires less work for quality assurance & control and needs few analytical procedures, representing a reduction of up to 20% in operating expenditure. Thus, the growing global pharmaceutical industry is expected to drive the flow chemistry market.
The demand for flow chemistry reactors has witnessed a significant rise over the past years on account of their high efficiency, safety, and ability to scale up the chemical production process. However, the need for significant investments in research & development and capital costs are expected to restrain the market growth.
Large manufacturers, including Syrris, have increasingly invested in developing new flow reactors to increase process efficiency. This leads to high entry barriers for new market players. Moreover, this is likely to pose a significant threat to small organizations in the flow chemistry business.
The shift from traditional batch manufacturing toward continuous manufacturing is likely to increase the cost of training employees, which is expected to limit the adoption of the technology. In addition, the high prices of glass and metal microreactors are anticipated to restrain growth over the next few years.
The increased demand for chemicals from numerous end-use applications boosts new capital investments in the chemical industry. The production capacity of chemicals is anticipated to rise because of the setting up of new chemical facilities. The significant reasons encouraging the growth of the chemical industry in various economies across the globe include supportive government initiatives and investments, stringent environmental regulations, high fragmentation in the industry, and the growing importance of specialty chemicals. Major players in the chemical industry are continuously engaged in expanding their production facilities to meet the increasing demand for chemicals across various applications. The chemical industry is the significant end-user of continuous flow technology as multiple sectors such as fertilizers and food & beverage require bulk chemicals. Flow chemistry makes bulk processing economical and easy, due to which various chemical manufacturers adopt this technology across the globe. The strengthening chemical sector in the Asia Pacific is one of the primary drivers of the rising demand for flow chemistry in the region.
According to Cefic Chemdata International, in 2019, China dominated the chemicals market with annual sales of USD 1.80 trillion. Also, various countries in the Asia Pacific, such as Japan, South Korea, India, and Taiwan, were on the list of top 10 countries with high chemical sales in 2019. The rising sales of chemicals in the region are driving the growth of the flow chemistry market.
The global flow chemistry market share is divided by reactor type, application, and region.
By reactor type, the market is divided into Continuous Stirred Tank Reactor (CSTR), Plug Flow Reactor (PFR), Microreactor, Microwave Systems, and Others.
Plug flow reactors dominated the market. It is projected to expand at a CAGR of 9% and is projected to grow to USD 1201 million by 2030. Plug flow reactors are well-suited for rapid reactions and carry high capacity, and their use in pharmaceutical and chemical industries is likely to rise over the forecast period. These reactors offer enormous opportunities for scaling up the manufacturing process at a low cost, which is anticipated to impact the market growth over the coming years positively.
CSTR is the second largest segment. It is estimated to reach USD 1065 million by 2030 at an expected CAGR of 8% over the forecast period. CSTR is manufactured using numerous materials, including Hastelloy B/C, Monel, Inconel, nickel, titanium, tantalum, and zirconium. These reactors can be fully automated with controlled high-pressure systems to monitor, control, and record key reactor parameters like temperature, pressure, motor speed, gas or liquid flow, pH level, turbidity, and torque. North America was the largest market for CSTR owing to early adoption and extensive research & development in CSTR technology. The Agricultural Research Service in the U.S. developed a CSTR design, one of the most commonly used systems in laboratories in North America and Western Europe.
Microreactors are the fastest-growing segment. It is estimated to reach USD 370 million by 2030 at an expected CAGR of 19% over the forecast period. The increasing adoption of microreactors by pharmaceutical, fine chemical, and specialty chemical manufacturers accounts for significantly low environmental damage and cost-effectiveness. These reactors are being used to produce bulk chemicals such as ethylene, formaldehyde, styrene, ethylene oxide (EO), vinyl acetate monomer (VAM), and methanol. Petrochemical manufacturers also prefer microreactor technology as a fast reaction within microchannels eliminates issues associated with mixing reactants, including heat transfer, mass transfer, and hydrodynamics.
By application, the market is divided into pharmaceuticals, chemicals, academia and research, petrochemicals, and others. The chemicals segment dominated the market. It is estimated to reach an expected value of USD 1340 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 10%. The increasing need for specialty & fine chemicals and a focus on scaling up the production process is expected to boost the demand for flow reactors in the chemical industry. Flow chemistry technology reduces the number of steps and reaction rate, which will likely positively impact market growth. The agrochemicals sector faces numerous challenges, including long-term performance, stringent regulatory policies, and increasing costs. There has been an increasing focus on the target-based design of active compounds and efficient synthesis techniques. These factors are expected to increase the penetration of flow chemistry technology in this segment.
Pharmaceuticals is the fastest-growing segment. It is estimated to reach an expected value of USD 975 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 12%. Pharmaceutical industries including Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd, Schering-Plough Corporation, Sanofi Aventis (Sanofi S.A.), Roche (F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG), GlaxoSmithKline plc, Novartis International AG, and AstraZeneca plc have been investing inflow technology which is likely to have a positive impact on the demand over the forecast years. Flow chemistry companies collaborate with pharmaceutical companies to increase vaccine production for the COVID-19 virus. High API manufacturing investment in economies including China and India is expected to impact the market growth in the Asia-Pacific positively.
Petrochemicals are the third-largest segment of flow chemistry on account of the rising need for gaining greater yield with low energy and material consumption and high-cost saving. It is estimated to reach an expected value of USD 660 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 10%. Nearly 90% of the petrochemical processes still use traditional batch processes. However, technological advancements and growing awareness of cleaner technologies are anticipated to boost the adoption of flow reactors over the forecast period.
By region, the market is divided into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Central and South America, and the Middle East and Africa.
North America dominated the market. It is estimated to reach an expected value of USD 1165 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 10%. The U.S. is the primary adopter of North America for the flow chemistry market on account of its highly developed technology industries, advanced processing capabilities, highly skilled workforce, and growing R&D initiatives. A robust chemical manufacturing infrastructure coupled with technological advancement is expected to augment the demand for flow chemistry in the region. Various major pharmaceutical companies present in North America are 3M Health Care Business, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Laboratories, Pfizer Inc., F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, and Gilead Sciences Inc. The pharmaceutical industry in North America is increasing, which is expected to boost the flow chemistry market over the forecast period. High pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing coupled with rising investment by petrochemical manufacturers in the economy is anticipated to play a crucial part in augmenting the demand.
Asia-Pacific is the fastest-growing region. It is estimated to reach an expected value of USD 1360 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 12%. India and China are the major economies in the regional market. Rising health awareness, leading to an increasing need for generic drugs, is expected to propel the utilization of flow chemistry processes to scale up the manufacturing of generic medications. Rising concerns regarding pollution and efficiency are likely to increase the adoption of greener and more efficient technology in numerous industries in the region. The pharmaceutical market, especially in economies including China, Japan, and India, is expected to witness significant growth due to the growing elderly population. This is expected to facilitate investment by pharmaceutical manufacturers in the region. All the above factors are anticipated to boost the adoption of technologically advanced processes, including flow processes, and create an upswing for market growth.
Europe is the third-largest region. It is estimated to reach an expected value of USD 800 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 11%. Factors driving the region's economic development include supportive efforts by the governments, significant pay increases, and continual job creation. Furthermore, governmental expenditures, particularly on digital and transportation infrastructure, are likely to boost economic growth in the region. The pharmaceutical industry in Europe is focusing on medical R&D by maintaining, sustaining, and developing a robust regulatory & innovation-supportive incentives environment. Efforts, including the European Roadmap for Process Intensification (2007) and the establishment of the European Process Intensification Center (EUROPIC), are expected to play a significant role in developing the flow chemistry market in the region.
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