The global graphite felt market size was valued at USD 780 million in 2021. It is expected to reach USD 1,243 million by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 6% during the forecast period (2022–2030). Graphite is a carbon-based natural mineral derivative. It is soft and flexible, and its structure is hexagonal. It usually has a dark tint, like black or gray. Products made from carbon and graphite are valued for their physical and chemical characteristics, including their chemical inertness, thermal resistance, low thermal and electrical conductivity, low thermal expansion coefficient, low friction coefficient, and low X-ray and electron absorption coefficient. Aside from being used in pencils and alkaline batteries, these items are also used in high-tech, automotive, and metallurgical sectors. Graphite felt is a rayon-based material ideally suited for vacuum furnaces and temperatures more than 2,000 degrees Celsius. Carbon felt is a less expensive alternative to graphite felt for applications where chemical purity is less important. Carbon and graphite felt based on PAN are utilized as electrode backings in numerous battery designs, including vanadium redox flow batteries (VRB).
The high conductivity, purity, and chemical resilience of felts make them excellent for flow battery developers' stringent design requirements. Graphite felt, also known as GF, has superior performance as an electrode compared to other carbon-based materials, such as graphite sheets and carbon cloth, due to its added advantages in the form of a broad volumetric area. Growing demand from industry sectors and for energy efficiency, as well as the expansion of industrialization in the Asia-Pacific region, are the drivers propelling the graphite felt market. The pandemic's demand and supply chain effects on the various end-user industries, on the other hand, functioned as a growth inhibitor for the graphite felt market.
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Growing Demand from Industrial Applications
Technological advancements have increased the demand for innovative and dependable insulating materials, the participation of high temperatures by numerous industries, and consistently rising energy expenditures. The primary use of graphite felts is as a heat insulator; they are used in quartz furnaces, single-crystal furnaces, drying furnaces, annealing furnaces, oxidation furnaces, growth furnaces, ingot furnaces, diffusion furnaces, deposition furnaces, carbonization furnaces, high-pressure furnaces, vacuum furnaces, induction furnaces, heat treatment furnaces, sintering furnaces, welding furnaces, and other high-temperature furnace insulation The majority of vacuum furnaces used today for heat treating use some graphite-felt insulation, together with a foil or board internal facing, in the hot-zone structure.
The furnace market has substantially transitioned in recent years due to price drops and increased energy efficiency. This is being accomplished with graphite felts. An enormous amount of money is saved on temperature regulation and energy efficiency because of the insulation provided by the graphite felt that lines the furnace's interior chamber. A demand for high-temperature insulating goods with increased performance arises due to the industries' constant drive for yield performance, which forces them to operate their processes at extremely high temperatures.
There are many industrial uses for process furnaces, including ceramic firing, degassing, hot pressing, powder densification, physical testing, sintering, metallic alloying, brazing, annealing, diffusion bonding, and heat treating. With the advent of graphite felts and their unique qualities, advancements in high-temperature insulation materials now provide a reliable and highly effective solution for temperatures beyond 2,000°C. The demand for these items is primarily driven by their flexibility and low thermal conductivity. As a result of their superior insulating efficacy and high porosity, these products are very light and need less insulator material. Thus, increasing their demand in the industry.
Disruptions Due to COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic spread to practically all of the world's nations. As governments battled with lockdown measures to stop the virus' transmission, its expansion left national economies and businesses tallying the consequences. The shutdown temporarily halted all economic activity, except for a few internet stores and some shops like pharmacies, supermarkets, hospitals, and ration stores. The pandemic harmed almost all commercial, economic, and social activity. Similarly, the manufacturing sectors, among the largest graphite consumers, also suffered. Numerous graphite-related end-user businesses and industrial facilities saw a temporary halt in application due to worker concerns. The demand for graphite felt decreased as a result.
Increased Demand for Renewable Energy
Due to substantial advancements in energy storage, intermittent energy sources like solar and wind power are becoming more practical for small- and large-scale power applications. Although they have short lifespans and are challenging to recycle, lithium-ion batteries are now the most preferred power source for electromechanical energy storage applications. On the other hand, redox flow batteries (RFBs) provide a workable and affordable answer to these problems. RFBs are rechargeable flow battery that employs an electron transfer-enabled reduction and oxidation process to store excess energy for later use. Due to their affordability, conductivity, permeability, and electrochemical stability, permeable electrodes made from graphite felts are utilized in high-temperature redox flow batteries.
When graphite felt electrodes are utilized for VRFBs (vanadium RFBs) with electrochemical oxidation, the specific surface area of the electrode increases, improving electrochemical performance. Despite being more expensive than lithium-ion and sodium-sulfur batteries, VRFBs are easily scalable and completely reversible during the charge and discharge processes. For various uses, from utility-scale grid stability to small-scale domestic applications, VRFBs are an intriguing energy storage method. Therefore, the need for VTRBs will be driven by the rising demand for renewable energy, which is also anticipated to present prospects for the graphite felt market.
The global graphite felt market is segregated into raw material type, application, and region.
By raw material type, the global graphite felt market includes Polyacrylonitrile, Rayon, and Petroleum Pitch.
The Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) section is projected to advance at a CAGR of 6.6% and hold the largest market share over the forecast period. One of the most adaptable precursors for graphite felt is polyacrylonitrile. The thermoplastic resin in question has a very high melting point. This specialist refractory insulation material, polyacrylonitrile, is utilized in the production of pan graphite felt and has a wide range of uses, including high-temperature vacuum and inert gas furnaces. PAN is used in a variety of products, including high-temperature insulation for vacuum and inert gas furnaces, heat shields and sinks, soldering and welding strips, cathodes for flow batteries, reaction surfaces for other electrochemical processes, glass blowing pads and plumber pads, wicks for ultralight stoves, automotive exhaust linings, and thermal insulators.
The Rayon section will hold the second-largest market share. Rayon is a synthetic fiber from regenerated cellulose found in natural sources like wood and associated agricultural items. Cellulose needs to be dissolved to produce rayon. Graphite felts made of rayon are simple to cut to size and do not fray at the edges. It can be placed flat and packed neatly, and handling it is considerably cleaner.
By application, the global graphite felt market includes Heat Insulation, Batteries, Semiconductors, and Others.
The Heat Insulation section is projected to advance at a CAGR of 6% and hold the largest market share over the forecast period. For use in high-temperature vacuum and inert gas furnaces, among other things, graphite felt is specially made to function as a thermal insulator. Most often, furnaces are a crucial element of a central heating system. These are installed permanently to heat interior spaces through an intermediary fluid, such as hot water, steam, or air.
The Batteries section will hold the second-largest market share. Battery demand is rising, especially in light of the electric vehicle (EV) revolution. Electric vehicle (EV) sales and production will likely reach double-digit numbers within the next ten years as they continue to proliferate worldwide. Governments, automakers, and suppliers are increasing their investments in the battery supply chain to support the growth and development of EVs, which is anticipated to boost the market throughout the forecast period.
Predominance of Asia-Pacific
By region, the global graphite felt market includes North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East and Africa.
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Asia-Pacific will command the market, expanding at a CAGR of 6.6% over the forecast period. The market is majorly dominated by China. China's gas consumption was projected to reach 320 billion cubic meters (BCM) in 2020, according to China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC); nevertheless, the covid economic disruption impacted the domestic market's demand for gas. However, gas consumption is anticipated to increase to almost 600 BCM by 2040 when considering the size of the market demand. The nation intends to increase its gas production to 325 BCM by 2040 to satisfy the rising demand for gas. With such intentions, the country is projected to see numerous construction projects connected to gas processing, and refining in the long run, which is also anticipated to develop a market for graphite felt to support corrosive and high-temperature processing operations.
Additionally, the country has many chemical plants planned for building during the next five years. For instance, in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, BASF began work on its USD 10 billion integrated petrochemicals project in 2019. This plant's initial phase was supposed to go online by 2022. Furthermore, it will probably be finished by 2030. Therefore, the demand for graphite in the country over the projection period is likely to increase significantly due to all planned oil and gas projects and chemical facilities. By 2025, the Chinese government hopes to have at least 5,000 fuel cell electric vehicles on the road, and by 2030, 1 million. During the forecast period, the market for batteries is anticipated to grow due to the government's promotion of electric, hybrid, and fuel cell electric cars.
Europe will likely generate USD 336 million by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 5.2%. Germany is likely to have a significant impact on the European market. In 2020, Germany produced roughly 24.1 million tons of crude steel in blast oxygen furnaces, a 13% decrease, and 11.5 million tons in electric arc furnaces, a 3% decrease. However, as many idle companies have started restarting their furnaces and manufacturing lines, it is anticipated that steel production will rise in the upcoming years. This will further enhance the demand for graphite on the market.
In the nation, energy storage applications are expanding along with using battery storage in the residential sector. By the end of 2018, 125,000 home storage systems (HSS) were installed in Germany, with a combined battery capacity of 930 MWh, or about the same as a medium-sized pumped storage facility. In 2019, the nation saw a rise of 44%, installing more than 65,000 new home battery systems. With more than 78,500 new home solar system installations in 2019, it saw a height of 41% even in residential solar systems. Increasing the graphite felt market.