Zeolite molecular sieve is a type of natural or synthetic microporous aluminosilicate crystals with regular pores, which has neatly arranged channels with uniform pore diameters and pores with huge internal and external specific surface areas, with the characteristics of ion exchange and catalysis, so it is widely used in important fields such as petrochemical industry, fine chemical industry, agriculture, medicine, electronics, water treatment and so on.
With the continuous development of pan-industry in the fields of energy and environmental protection, the global annual output of zeolite molecular sieves has shown an upward trend with market demand, which is estimated that by 2023, the global zeolite molecular sieve market will exceed 2 million tons.
In terms of application, the downstream of zeolite molecular sieve is relatively dispersed. The largest downstream is the oil refining industry, accounting for 29%, followed by air separation and petrochemicals. In the field of automobile exhaust catalysis, there are few applications in China V and before; the real large-scale application of zeolite will be in China VI.
The Zeolite Molecular Sieve Industry in China Is Rapidly Rising
The development time of the molecular sieve industry in China is shorter than that of foreign developed countries, in which there is a certain gap in terms of technology and industry maturity. However, with the acceleration of domestic economic development in recent years, molecular sieves, as an important adsorption and catalytic material in the fields of environmental protection, petroleum, and fine chemicals, have gradually been favored by the market, in which the industry has shown a situation of short supply. At present, China has become one of the most important producing and demanding countries of molecular sieve in the world.
National VI Standards Open Up Domestic Demand for Automotive Zeolite Molecular Sieves
National VI standards are the most stringent in history, offering a broad market for zeolite molecular sieves. On July 1, 2020, the National VI exhaust emission standards were officially implemented, and the emission limits of various pollutants have become stricter, which puts forward extremely high requirements on the exhaust gas treatment system of motor vehicles.
At present, there are mainly two catalytic methods for the treatment of nitrogen oxides in automobile exhaust. Gasoline vehicles use TWC catalytic converters to simultaneously catalyze CO, HC, and NOx. The air-fuel ratio of TWC is about 14.7, while diesel vehicles require oxygen-enriched combustion, in which the air-fuel ratio is much higher than that of gasoline vehicles, and the displacement is large. SCR is usually used to effectively remove NOx, where urea or other reducing agents are sprayed to reduce NOx to N2 under the action of a catalyst.
Zeolite molecular sieve SCR is the best diesel engine NOx treatment catalyst in the sixth stage of the country. It is estimated that by 2025, the demand for zeolite molecular sieve in my country will reach nearly 17,700 tons, and the market size is about 5.3 billion yuan.
The Leading Position of Global Automotive Zeolite Materials Continues to Be Consolidated
After more than 30 years of development in the field of automotive exhaust gas treatment catalysts, a relatively mature oligopoly has formed， where BASF, Johnson Matthey, Umicore, and Cataler account for more than 70% of the global market share.
Johnson Matthey has obvious advantages in the field of diesel engine exhaust gas treatment and catalysis, with a market share of over 50%. According to Johnson Matthey's annual report, its catalyst business has maintained steady growth in recent years. The annual revenue growth rate for the 2014-2019 fiscal year was 10.6% and the operating profit CAGR was 14.1%. The business is currently mainly concentrated in the European market. In fiscal year 2019, its market share in the European light-duty diesel vehicle market increased by 20% to 65% from the same period last year. In 2020 and beyond, benefiting from the promotion of new policies in China and India, the growth rate of Johnson's business in Asia is expected to accelerate. At present, some Chinese manufacturers have begun to use Johnson Matthey's products.
Valiant is currently the largest zeolite molecular sieve supplier of Johnson Matthey. Since 2008, it has cooperated and is expected to account for more than 50% of Johnson's total purchases. Currently, only Valiant and Tosoh are the only companies in the world that have the ability to supply six products from large-scale countries. Tosoh was established in 1935, initially specialized in the production of caustic soda and soda ash, and has now developed into a comprehensive chemical group for petrochemicals, organic chemicals, high-performance materials, biomedicine, and other products. Since 1986, it has opened the production of zeolite molecular sieves, compared with Tosoh, Valiant has obvious advantages in product cost, price, template supply, and production expansion. It is expected that its market share will continue to increase, and its market position as the world's largest automotive zeolite material supplier will continue to be consolidated.
Zeolite Applications in the Fields of Refinery Catalysis and Stationary Source Emission Control Are Broad
In addition to the field of automobile exhaust gas treatment, zeolite molecular sieves are widely used in petrochemical, coal chemical catalysts, and stationary source pollutant emission treatment catalysts.
In the field of oil refining, zeolite molecular sieves are widely used in FCC, catalytic hydrogenation, isomerization, and alkylation due to their excellent shape-selective catalytic performance. It is understood that the demand for zeolite molecular sieves in the domestic oil refining field is expected to be about 100,000 tons, and the demand for the FCC link alone is expected to be close to 50,000 tons.
In the catalysis of coal to olefins, molecular sieves are commonly used catalysts in the production of MTO and MTP. Among them, the SAPO-34 molecular sieve is the most widely used. According to the coal chemical network data, my country's total coal-to-olefin production capacity reached 13.02 million tons in 2018. Based on the consumption of 1 kilogram of catalyst for 1 ton of olefin products, the current domestic demand for zeolite molecular sieves in the field of coal-to-olefins is about 13,000 tons.
The domestic molecular sieve industry started late, with the characteristics of small scale, low technical level, and small and medium-sized enterprises, in which there is a certain gap with foreign countries. The huge application value of zeolite materials has not been fully exploited and utilized, and mineral resources have not been efficiently utilized. The market scale has been at a low level. Therefore, domestic leading companies in the industry need to integrate superior resources and use advanced technologies to promote the overall development of the industry toward high quality and high value-added under the regulation of policies.
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