Published - Aug 2004| Analyst - Andrew McWilliams| Code - NAN028A
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Report Highlights

  • The global market for nanocatalysts is projected to approach $3.7 billion in 2004 and $5.0 billion in 2009, at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 6.3%.
  • Commercially well-established nanocatalysts such as industrial enzymes, zeolites and transition metal nanocatalysts accounted for about 98% of global sales in 2003.
  • Newer types, such as transition metal oxide, metallocene, asymmetric, carbon nanotube and others, are expected to more than triple their combined market share by 2009, to 6.8%.
  • The refining/petrochemical sector was the largest user in 2003, with more than 38% of the market, followed by chemicals/pharmaceuticals, food processing, and environmental remediation.
  • Here again, it is the smaller end-user segments whose consumption is growing the fastest.


A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction by reducing the required activation energy, but which is left unchanged by the reaction. In addition to speeding up certain chemical reactions, catalysts also can be used to alter the temperature at which various reactions take place and thus make them feasible. Nanocatalysts represent the convergence of catalysts, a mature technology, with a new one, nanotechnology.

Catalysts systematically have been used at least since the beginning of the industrial age, and today their use is widespread in industries such as petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals. In a sense, all catalysis is nanoscale, since it involves chemical reactions at the nanoscale. This report defines a nanocatalyst as a substance or material with catalytic properties that has at least one nanoscale dimension, either externally or in terms of its internal structures. The report also covers substances with catalytic properties that may not have nanoscale dimensions, but which have been “nanoengineered” (i.e., subjected to nanoscale structural modification) in order to enhance their catalytic activity.

This BCC study provides an understanding of developments in nanocatalyst technology and applications that will influence the future size and structure of the market for these unique substances. The report identifies segments of the market with the greatest commercial potential in the near to mid-term, identifying and where possible quantifying, the key demand drivers, projecting future demand, and evaluating the technical and other challenges that must be overcome for the market to realize its full potential.


The report contains:

  • Analysis of nanocatalysts that have industrial applications
  • A look at milestones in the development of nanocatalysts
  • An examination of current and potential nanocatalyst applications
  • Market forecasts for applications and endusers with the greatest commercial potential through 2009
  • Global nanocatalyst market trends through 2009
  • Factors that will influence long-term development of the market
  • Nanocatalyst industry structure and market shares.


Projecting the market for emerging technologies and products such as most nanocatalyst applications, whose commercial potential has not yet been proven, is a challenging task. This report uses a multi-phase approach to identify the nanocatalyst applications with the greatest commercial potential and quantify the market for these applications, as described below.

In the first phase of the analysis, we identify a "long list" of potential nanocatalyst applications (including applications that are still under development) and map them against potential end-user industries, such as energy, chemicals, and biotechnology.

In the second phase, we eliminate those nanocatalyst applications that appear to have little likelihood of making it into commercial production in the next 5 years through a literature review and statements by industry sources. The result of phase two is a "short list" of applications and end-user industries with the greatest near- to mid-term commercial potential.

The third phase focuses on quantifying the potential broader market for each short-listed nanocatalyst application and identifying the main prerequisites for commercial success. Various methodologies and data sources are used to develop the projections, including trend line projections, input-output analysis, and estimates of future demand from industry sources.

The base-year for analysis and projection is 2003. With 2003 as a baseline, market projections were developed for 2004 through 2009. These projections are based on a combination of a consensus among the primary contacts combined with our understanding of the key market drivers and their impact from a historical and analytical perspective. The analytical methodologies used to generate the market estimates are described in detail in the section on Detailed Market Projections.
All dollar projections presented in this report are in 2003 constant dollars.


Andrew McWilliams, the author of this report, is a partner in the Boston-based international technology and marketing consulting firm, 43rd Parallel LLC. He is also the author of numerous other Communications Co. studies, including several studies of emerging technologies, such as

  • C-140N Trends in the Noninvasive and Minimally Invasive Medical Device Market
  • B-182 Medical Robotics and Computer Assisted Surgery Market
  • GB-285 Emerging RF Technologies
  • GB-290 Nanotechnology: A Realistic Market Evaluation
  • GB-265 Semiconductor Microlithography: Materials and Markets.

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