The global nanofibers market size was estimated to be USD 785 million in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 3350 million by 2030, registering a CAGR of 18% during the forecast period (2022–2030). Nanofibers have an extremely high surface-area-to-volume ratio and porosity, making them appealing materials for applications. They are increasingly used in medication delivery systems, medical implants, water, air filtration, face masks, and protective apparel. Centrifugal spinning, melt blowing, electrospinning, and bicomponent spinning have been intensively researched for the manufacturing of nanofibers, with varying degrees of commercial success. Several new synthesis methods have also been created.
The growing demand has raised the need for materials with high functionality, such as absorbency and grip, and superior comforts, such as soft texture and low skin irritation. In the last few years, demand has increased for medical-grade face coverings and air and microfiltration media, high-efficiency fuel filters, advanced filtration, life sciences/pharmaceutical media, acoustics, and performance clothing. These patterns are expected to persist throughout the next decade.
The global nanofibers market is divided by product, application, and region.
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In the pharmaceutical industry, nanofibers are mainly used for drug delivery systems in various diseases. The smaller size of Nanofiber makes it an ideal drug carrier for delivering the drug to the appropriate site in the body. In the medical industry, nanofibers have many applications, such as artificial blood vessels, artificial organs, drug & gene delivery, and medical face-masks. Nanofibers also aid in repairing joint wounds and injuries, as well as blood clotting.
Matregenix Inc., a US-based company that designs, develops, and manufactures highly tunable nanofibrous materials, announced its expansion with a new manufacturing facility in Irvine, California. The company installed a new nanofiber production line at its new site and planned to add at least another one by the end of the year to cater to the surging demand for Nanofiber in the medical & pharmaceutical industry.
Furthermore, an increase in government spending and private companies' spending on the treatment of various diseases will propel the demand for nanofibers, which are used as tools for the delivery of drug systems to targeted sites in the body.
With the sudden emergence of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, the demand for PPE kits, face or surgical masks, and N95 respirators has increased drastically. Masks are essential items for protecting the respiratory tract from viruses and bacteria transmitted through the air as droplets. Nanofiber masks offer protection against harmful air pollutants. PMR with a diameter of 2.5 microns or lesser in polluted air can directly go through the lung alveolar to cause many diseases, including asthma. Heavy metals attached to PM2.5 particles may even lead to severe chronic health problems, such as cancer, after long-term exposure to the particles contained in the environment.
The increase in air pollutants and viral infections due to poor hygienic conditions in developing countries is estimated to augment the demand for nanofiber masks and PPE kits over the coming years.
Due to their small size and complexity, carbon nanofibers are challenging to transfer from the lab to the plant scale. The production of carbon nanofibers in the laboratory is comparatively easy compared to industrial-scale production, and bulk productivity always remains a significant challenge with the collection, downstream processes, and several other drawbacks involved in the production of nanofibers for the pharmaceutical industry.
The mass-volume processing of nanofibers is a laborious process that doesn't suit the pharmaceutical industry's capacity. Safety and environmental concerns can arise due to using organic solvents for scaled-up electrospinning. In plant-scale production, some of the electrospinning process parameters can be easily changed, which is still a significant challenge that manufacturers face.
Fast evaporation of volatile solvents, which are used in dissolving poorly water-soluble drugs, is usually experienced in needleless technology, which causes the concentration to change and makes the manufacturing method challenging to handle. This challenge generally arises with highly concentrated solutions and highly volatile solvents, which drive reductions in accuracy and reproducibility across all fabrication stages. While many attempts have been conducted to solve this problem, they still pose a challenge.
There are several ongoing research and development activities in cellulosic nanofibers that can positively impact the demand for nanofibers. Nippon Paper Industries Co. aims to produce supercapacitors that can store and release energy with improved performance efficiency and lesser environmental impact compared to lead-acid batteries and lithium-ion batteries. This will be accomplished utilizing cellulose nanofibers as raw materials, which are created by refining wood pulp to hundredths of a micron or less. Presently, cellulose nanofibers are used in diapers and food additives.
Growing penetration of electric vehicles in developed and developing countries can be a perfect opportunity to realize the untapped potential of supercapacitors, which can hold massless electrons in an electric field. In contrast, conventional batteries store energy in chemical form. Supercapacitors could deliver short and intense bursts of power. It can, however, only hold a fraction of the storage capacity of a lithium-ion battery. According to a paper published in the March 2021 edition of the journal Nature, the restriction of lithium-ion batteries is slow charging. In contrast, cellulose nanofiber supercapacitors could be utilized to contain large amounts of power and have possible future suitability for handheld electronics, logistics, and renewable energy storage.
The companies with massive capital in hand and low debt-to-equity ratios are capable of increasing their R&D expenditure. Many end-users of cellulosic nanofibers, such as Nippon Paper Industries Co., have already begun such initiatives to build their competitive advantage over others.
After the pandemic, demand for polymeric nanofibers has increased in some end-use industries, such as the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. However, demand for Nanofiber in other end-use industries, such as automotive, aerospace, and defense, has been severely impacted by the lockdowns imposed by the government to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
Different types of nanofiber, such as carbon nanofiber and polymeric nanofiber, are replacing metals, such as steel and aluminum, in cars, aircraft, and other vehicles. However, due to lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, sales and production of passenger cars, commercial vehicles, airplanes, and other heavy-duty vehicles have witnessed a considerable decline. According to Oxford Economics, the European automotive industry will remain sluggish in 2021, with a more than 10% fall in automobile manufacturers in the European Union and the Uk in 2021 compared to 2019 levels.
Boeing and Airbus are the only two aviation producers that employ carbon or polymeric nanofibers to produce aircraft parts. Boeing, a US-based aerospace company, delivered their lowest number of commercial jets in 2020, reaching 157 planes compared to the previous number of 380 in 2019. Airbus, another key player, made 566 retail jet deliveries in 2020 compared to 863 in 2019. The slowdown in demand has been primarily caused by transportation restrictions around the globe to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hence, automotive and aerospace production is slowing down, and the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting the recovery expected for the industry in 2021 further. This, in turn, is expected to affect the global market for nanofibers, at least for short- to medium-term period.
The global nanofibers market share is divided by product, application, and region.
By product type, the global nanofibre market is divided into carbon nanofiber, ceramic nanofibers, composite nanofiber, polymeric nanofiber, carbohydrate-based nanofiber, and metallic and metal oxides nanofiber. The polymeric nanofiber segment dominated the global nanofibers market, was valued at USD 395 million in 2021, and is expected to reach USD 1335 million by 2030 growing at a CAGR of 15%. With an estimated share of around 50% in 2021. However, the carbohydrate-based nanofiber segment will register the fastest CAGR of 35% by 2030.
Polymers are large molecules formed by bonding (chemically linking) a series of building blocks. Therefore, the polymers are made of two or more identical monomers linked in a chain to form a polymer material. The various types of polymers include natural, synthetic, and hybrid. Natural polymers are naturally occurring polymeric materials, whereas Synthetic polymers are manufactured polymers, including polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, synthetic rubber, phenol-formaldehyde resin, nylon, polyacrylonitrile, PVB, silicone, etc. Hybrid polymers are naturally occurring polymers that undergo further chemical modification or synthetic polymers modified to produce the desired polymer. With the help of the electrospinning technique, such polymer materials can be used to produce ultrafine fibers called polymer nanofibers. The ultrafine fiber structure of such polymers makes them highly useful for enhancing cell attachment, mass transfer, and drug loading properties.
Besides, continuous advancements are happening in the development of nanodevices, water treatment materials, aircraft, drug delivery, tissue engineering, optical sensors, textiles, etc. While polymers are extensively used in almost every industry, continuous technological advancements are expected to drive the consumption of polymeric nanofibers due to their compact size and ultrafine structure.
By application, the water and air filtration segment was valued at USD 740 million in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 1225 million by 2030 growing at a CAGR of 13%. However, the medical segment is expected to register the fastest growth.
Electrospun nanofiber-based filter media have a high surface/volume ratio, low-pressure drop, good void interconnectivity, and tunable connectivity and morphology, making them ideal for excellent filtering. Nanofibers are employed in High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters due to these reasons. Due to its high filtering efficiency and performance, the electrospun filter membrane is potentially appropriate for HEPA filters. Furthermore, nanofibers produced from metal oxide semiconductors have recently been extensively investigated in various chemical and gas sensing applications, including air quality detection, an inspection of dangerous and combustible gases, and environmental monitoring.
They are also utilized in the thermally-driven MD (membrane fractionation) water treatment technique. Owing to the increasing scarcity of clean and usable water across the World, demand for water treatment has been growing significantly over the years, which in turn is boosting the demand for nanofibers. The factors mentioned above are likely to affect the market for nanofibers in water and air filtration during the forecast period.
By region, the global nanofibers market share studied has been segmented into Asia-Pacific, North America, Europe, and the rest of the world.
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North America holds the largest share, holding around 37% of the total nanofibers market. The North American nanofibres market was valued at USD 290 million in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 1060 million by 2030 growing at a CAGR of 16%.
The United States has the best medical and healthcare facilities globally. The medical industry is one of the major industries in the United States and is among the most research and development-intensive industries. This is predicted to bolster the demand for nanofibers. Overall, growth in various end-user industries is expected to drive the market for nanofibers during the forecast period.
The Asia-Pacific region registered the highest growth during the forecast period and is expected to reach USD 1555 million by 2030 growing at a CAGR of 21%. In the Asia-Pacific region, China is the largest economy in terms of GDP. By 2029, China's total Li-ion battery capacity will be comparable to 39 million electric cars (EVs). These investments are likely to make a significant contribution to market demand growth.
Furthermore, China also has one of the most significant solar demands globally. China installed 30.1 GW in 2019, a Y-o-Y decrease of almost 32%. The annual installation was estimated to be approximately 30 GW in 2020, which is expected to drive the demand for solar cells, further driving the country's market for nanofibers. The Chinese healthcare industry is the world's second-largest behind the United States, and it is predicted to account for 25% of global healthcare revenue by 2030. This is projected to boost demand for nanofiber composites used in drug delivery, tissue engineering, stem cell treatment, cancer therapy, and wound healing.