Technologies for VOC Recovery and Abatement

Published - Mar 2000| Analyst - John Johnston| Code - ENV004A
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Report Highlights

  • In 1999, three major industrial sectors — electric power generation, chemicals, and pulp and paper ¾ accounted for nearly 65% (or $2.8 billion) of all stationary-source APC sales in the U.S. market. Other large stationary-source consumers included the cement, electronics, refining, transportation, forest products and metals industries.
  • The value of VOC-related APC equipment in the U.S. market should total some $3.3 billion in 1999, rising to just over $4.3 billion by 2004. Overall growth rates for this portion of the APC market will run at approximately 5.4% per annum over the next five years.
  • The filtration systems currently comprise the largest share (31%) of the stationary-source market, followed closely by oxidizers and scrubbers/strippers each with a 26% share. The total estimated value of the technologies examined in the U.S. market is approximately $3.3 billion in 1999.



This BCC report has been prepared to provide an in-depth analysis of the technology, markets, and future outlook for volatile organic compound (VOC) recovery and abatement technologies designed for the treatment of industrial process airstreams and remediation off-gas. In this report, VOC recovery and abatement technologies are assessed with respect to type, quantity produced, the major players in the industry and projected future market trends. Economic forecasts for this technology are provided for the current year, next year, and the following five years for the United States and overseas markets.

Specific technologies examined include thermal, electrical, and catalytic oxidizers; electrostatic precipitators and wet and dry scrubbers; biofiltration; fiber filters and baghouses; air strippers and packed towers; mist collectors; vapor-phase adsorbents and other novel technologies. Timely evaluation of the ramifications of recent amendments to the Federal Clean Air Act on the VOC recovery and abatement technology industry is also provided, as is an assessment of potential export markets and related trends.


The history of modern air pollution problems dates back to the time of the industrial revolution, whereupon the burning of coal and other hydrocarbons for use in home heating and early factories resulted in the production of noxious fumes primarily in densely populated urban areas. As the economies of the western world in particular continued to expand, the problems of air pollution began to mount, eventually climaxing in the early 1970s due in large part to the voluminous emissions produced by the widespread use of the internal combustion engine.

The primary driving force for the development of the U.S. air pollution control technology market was ushered in with the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the subsequent restriction by the federal government of the use of leaded gasoline and the establishment of automotive emissions standards. Under the Clean Air Act, National Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) were established for so-called criteria air pollutants. Specifically, NAAQS were developed for ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and later on, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). The original Act mandated nationwide compliance with all NAAQS by 1975. Due to the comparatively slow rate of progress towards these standards, the Act was amended in 1977, and again in 1990, to extend these compliance deadlines. Currently, compliance deadlines vary by both region and pollutant, and promulgation of the 1990 amendments by the U.S. EPA continues at a comparatively slow pace.

From a regulatory standpoint, the U.S. air pollution equipment market may be subdivided into mobile- (i.e., primarily automotive) and stationary-source (e.g., factories and power plants) applications. Growth in the stationary-source air pollution control markets has been, and will likely continue to be influenced primarily by federal and state regulatory drivers. Historically, as pollutant parameters have been added to the U.S. air emissions regulatory framework and overall standards have been tightened, growth in the air pollution control equipment market has proven robust. However, recent reluctance of the government to potentially derail buoyant economic conditions by imposing more stringent air quality standards on industry, has resulted in an overall slowing of the domestic air pollution control technology market.

Bright spots in the U.S. market currently include the growing, but highly competitive VOC recovery and abatement market (the focus of the current study), and strong after-market sales of replaceable industrial air filtration units. In addition, growth in foreign air pollution control markets continues to outstrip U.S. rates by more than an order of magnitude, particularly in the developing countries of Asia.


The study presented herein focuses on six primary general VOC recovery and abatement technology types. These general technology types are defined in this report as oxidizers, filtration systems, membranes and separations, scrubbers and strippers, adsorbent systems and energy recovery technology. Emphasis has been placed on the manufacturing of VOC recovery equipment used primarily to control emissions resulting from industrial processes. In addition, those technologies that are used to abate and control organic particulates, and those, which are necessary to provide post treatment of resulting acid gas, also have been included. Effectively, the current study evaluates virtually all stationary-source APC technologies, with the exception of those primarily used in the abatement of NOx. Not included as part of this analysis are market valuations and manufacturers related to recovery and abatement technologies geared primarily toward the consumer market (e.g., automobile emissions, indoor air filtration, etc.), or standard HVAC-type air purification and control systems.

Also evaluated are VOC recovery and abatement technology and closely related services that are associated with the treatment of secondary off-gases produced through other forms of waste management and/or remediation activities. Limited information is provided on energy recovery technology as it relates specifically to VOC recovery and abatement equipment manufactured for the treatment of industrial airstreams and remediation off-gases. Since energy recovery technology generally is incorporated as an integral part of most VOC recovery and abatement systems, technology types and innovations are examined, while specific market valuations are excluded.

This study does not include VOC recovery and abatement services, or monitoring or sensor types of technologies.


Information used in the compilation of this study was gathered from a wide variety of primary and secondary sources. The primary sources mainly consist of in-depth telephone interviews conducted with select technology manufacturers and other industry sources. Secondary sources varied widely and included corporate financial reports and SEC filings, electronic market-oriented databases, printed and on-line company literature, technical journals and industry publications, government statistics and publications, regulatory policy statements and evaluations, third-party financial and corporate profiles, and patent-related searches.

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