The global geopolymers market size was valued at USD 7,250 million in 2021. It is estimated to reach an expected value of USD 57,700 million by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 29.6% during the forecast period (2022–2030). Inorganic ceramic materials, known as geopolymers, feature networks of mineral molecules connected by covalent connections. They can be divided into two groups: hybrid (organic-inorganic) geopolymers and pure inorganic geopolymers. Obsidian and other geopolymers are produced chemically as well as naturally.
Due to the amorphous microstructure in geopolymers at ambient temperature, they have high heat resistance and can be employed as thermal insulators. Current applications for commercially produced geopolymers include high-temperature ceramics, hazardous and radioactive waste encapsulation, fire and heat-resistant coatings and adhesives, and medical uses. -The factors driving the growth of the market studied are environmental regulations, emission strain on the cement industry, and higher demand from the repair and rehabilitation market.
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Environmental Regulations and Emission Pressure on the Cement Industry
The cement industry produces about 5% of global man-made CO2 emissions, of which 50% is from the chemical process and 40% from burning fuel. Simultaneously, geopolymer cement successfully cut carbon emissions by 70–80% compared to Portland cement. Dust is the most harmful pollutant from storage, crushing, grinding, and pyro-processing and can cause respiratory problems. Other industries, such as thermal power plants, also generate dust and pollutants like fly ash (FA). The disposal of FA is a significant problem, as less than 25% of the total annual FA produced worldwide is utilized for high-value applications like concrete and building blocks. Meanwhile, the remaining is used in landfill. FA is effectively utilized while making cement concretes, extending technical advantages, and controlling environmental pollution.
Ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS) is a by-product of the blast furnaces used to make iron. The alternative to FA and GGBS in the construction industry is in the form of geopolymer cement concretes (GPCCs), which by appropriate process technology, utilize all classes and grades of FA and GGBS. Consequently, there is a great potential for reducing stockpiles of these waste materials. In the most favorable case of slag availability as a by-product, there is a reduction of 80% of the CO2 emission during the manufacturing of rock-based geopolymer cement compared with Portland cement. In the least favorable case of slag manufacture, the reduction is as high as 70%. Therefore, the environmental regulations and emission limits are significant factors driving the demand for environmentally friendly cement solutions, such as geopolymer cement.
Increased Demand from the Repair and Rehabilitation Market
Unique properties, such as fast setting fill that expands into holes and cracks, easy mixability and applicability, low-cost solution compared to chemical grouts, and about 98% post-industrial recycled materials, make geopolymers highly suitable for the repair and rehabilitation market, thereby driving the geopolymer market. For instance, some geopolymer high-performance fibers with reinforced mortar are designed explicitly for structural rehabilitation and used through multiple application techniques, including pouring, placing, troweling, spraying, or centrifugal casting. This high-strength, ultra-low porosity material is made from natural mineral polymers and recycled industrial waste streams.
Furthermore, it is expected that globally, especially in India, billions of dollars will be spent on remediating and fixing infrastructure settlement problems, where geopolymers are used extensively. On average, half of the earth's supported structures have settlement problems, and traditional repair methods contribute to issues like additional air and groundwater pollution; the markets are all seeking new, innovative solutions to recurring structural problems providing opportunities for geopolymer. Considering all these factors, there is a growing demand for geopolymers in the repair and rehabilitation market, especially in developed economies.
Lack of Uniform Standards and Regulations
The main impediment facing new construction materials is the existing standard regime. The prescriptive standards specify particular mix designs and binders for concrete, rather than allowing any material that meets given performance standards to be utilized. The term 'geopolymer' covers a wide range of binder materials, resulting in variations in performance and properties. The use of prescriptive standards and codes and the exclusion of non-Portland cement binders are significant reasons for the lack of immediate acceptance in the construction market.
Furthermore, cement consumption is closely linked to economic development in the region or country. In mature markets, like Europe, where cement consumption per capita still varies considerably from country to country, cement sales depend on construction sector activities, which closely follow (usually after a brief delay) general economic activity. This dependence on economies of respective regions sometimes deters potential investors from taking up novel cement products, like geopolymers. Moreover, the long-term durability data (particularly in field performance) for geopolymers, which is yet to be globally ascertained, also acts as a deterrent.
Rising Awareness among the Researchers
Geopolymer materials have great potential in the construction sector. With the help of researchers, it is expected that the establishment of geopolymer programs will expedite public awareness about the use of this alternative source. Furthermore, the rising awareness among the researchers about recycling waste concrete from the demolition of deteriorating infrastructure by binding it with fly ash to manufacture ground waste concrete-based geopolymer may create an opportunity for such materials.
The global geopolymer market is segmented by product type, application, fillers, and region.
By product type, the global geopolymer market includes Cement, Concrete, & Precast Panel, Grout & Binder, and Others.
The Cement, Concrete, & Precast Panel segment accounts for the largest market share and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 31.2% during the forecast period. Geopolymer concretes are stable, durable, and have lasted for decades. Geopolymer cement has fast curing property compared to ordinary cement, and at room temperature, the hardening of the cement entirely depends on the addition of calcium cations. Geopolymers are also used to make precast panels, owing to their properties and growing demand for the application.
Geopolymer cement offers resistance to freeze and thaw cycling, high chemical resistance, can support an insulating R-value as high as 8 per inch of cellular material, has dynamic and designer selected modulus properties, faster or slower set times that are operator determined, has an extremely low air and water permeability and can withstand extreme heat without degradation and variable curing methods for ultimate strength. Owing to the properties, the production and application of geopolymer cement, concrete, & precast panel has increased in recent years.
By application, the global geopolymer market includes Building, Road & Pavement, Runway, Pipe & Concrete Repair, Bridge, Tunnel Lining, Railroad Sleeper, Coating Application, Fireproofing, Nuclear & Other Toxic Waste Immobilization, and Specific Mold Products.
The Building segment accounts for the largest market share and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 34.7% during the forecast period. Geopolymers are used extensively in the construction of buildings. Large amounts of greenhouse gases are being released into the atmosphere due to overpopulation and fast-expanding construction activities, which significantly negatively influence the environment. The market demand is driven by the growing environmental impact of glasshouse gases produced either during cement production or in other alternative ways. This has opened up opportunities for developing and using geopolymers in building construction.
By fillers, the global geopolymer market includes Fly Ash.
The Fly Ash segment is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 29.7% during the forecast period. Fly ash-based geopolymers have the potential to be used as an eco-friendly alternative for ordinary Portland cement (OPC). The manufacturing process of cement production involves the heating of limestone, which releases carbon dioxide. Approximately one ton of carbon dioxide is released in producing one ton of carbon dioxide, depending on the cement manufacturing process. The use of fly ash in the production of geopolymers will reduce the carbon emissions associated with the production of cement.
APAC Exceeds Other Regions
By region, the global geopolymer market includes North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Rest of the World.
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Asia-Pacific accounts for the largest market share and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 28.8% during the forecast period. Demographics in China are expected to continue to spur growth in residential construction. Rising household income levels and the population migrating from rural to urban areas are expected to continue to drive demand for the residential construction sector in the country. China was promoting and undergoing continuous urbanization, with a target rate of 60% for 2020. The increased living spaces required in the urban areas resulting from urbanization and the desire of middle-class urban residents to improve their living conditions may have a profound effect on the housing market and thereby increase the residential construction in the country, which in turn will have a positive impact on the geopolymers market in the country.
Europe is estimated to reach an expected value of USD 10,845 million by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 30.2% during the forecast period. Germany has the largest market for industrial wastewater treatment in Europe, with almost 3,000 treatment plants in around 12,000 discharging companies. More than 920 million cubic meters of industrial wastewater are treated annually in the country before being discharged into the outside environment. Hence, the country's vast water treatment infrastructure is expected to support the demand for the geopolymers market over the forecast period.
Additionally, the country is investing 86 billion euros in the next ten years to redevelop existing railway networks. The government has started working on the A49 highway project connecting Schwalmstadt and the Ohmtal interchange in Central Hesse. This project is based on the public-private partnership model with an investment of 700 million euros with a total construction of 93 Km of road and is expected to complete in the third quarter of 2024. These massive railway and road construction projects will drive the demand for geopolymers during the forecast period.
North America is the third largest region. The United States is a major industrialized nation that houses multiple heavy, medium-scale, and small-scale industries. The country is known for its booming commercial activities, which drive market growth. Furthermore, the Canadian economy is a highly developed mixed economy. The construction industry has been undergoing high development over the past decade, with about 50 skyscrapers built in major cities, including Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary. With the rising environmental concern and growing demand for green construction projects, the demand for geopolymers for fireproofing and coatings to prevention against corrosion is expected to increase during the forecast period. Geopolymer-based concrete also uses wastewater treatment plants to avoid corrosion against acids and abrasion and offers less permeability than ordinary Portland cement.
Additionally, many industrial sectors in Canada are expected to grow significantly, thus boosting the water treatment activities in the country. In addition to the existing wastewater treatment plants in Canada, ongoing advancements are being processed in the country, such as the expansion of the existing wastewater sewage treatment plant in Ontario and the establishment of new sewage treatment plants in Quebec and British Columbia. This expansion and redevelopment of wastewater treatment plants will positively impact the demand for geopolymers during the forecast period.
List of key geopolymers market manufacturers profiled