The Global Market for Fullerenes

Published - Oct 2006| Analyst - Donald Saxman| Code - NAN034A
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Report Highlights

  • Based on BCC Research's structured market analysis, the $60 million 2005 market should grow to $92 million in 2006, and $1.312 million by 2011, an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 70%. The annual global fullerene market could be worth over $4.7 billion by 2016.
  • The market sub-sector for energy storage (fullerenes used in batteries, fuel cells, photovoltaics, flywheel energy storage, and ultracapacitors) is currently worth $19 million, making it the largest current market sub-sector. It is expected to grow to $205 million by 2011.
  • The U.S. and Japan will remain the predominant Tier I fullerene countries in terms of both technology and production. South Korea and the People's Republic of China should move to Tier I in the next few years.


There are four known forms of pure carbon: graphite, diamond, chaoite/ceraphite, and fullerenes. Fullerenes are very common in nature but were not recognized as a fourth form of carbon until relatively recently. For instance, early electron microscopes identified a variety of carbon filaments, including the filaments that make up soot and carbon black. It wasn't until the 1980s that many of these were recognized as fullerenes and were characterized and modeled. It was eventually determined that spherical, oblate tubular, and a number of tube-like transition structures were possible. Further, multilayer fullerene structures are possible.

This business opportunity report focuses on these new materials: fullerenes. This includes fullerene spheres (C60, commonly known as buckyballs), nanotubes, sheets, buckets, and endrohedral fullerenes (various caged structures). Since their introduction in 1985, fullerenes have been considered for everything from lubricants to construction girders. As fullerene synthesis techniques improve, they have moved from laboratory curiosities to research products and finally to the market place. Within the 10-year scope of this report, fullerenes should begin to graduate into a commonly available (if still expensive) specialty material.

Fullerene spheres, in the form of C60 are allotrope of carbon (like graphite and diamond). They were discovered in 1985 using the laser evaporation of graphite. Fullerene sheets and foams have now also been created. Endohedral Fullerenes form cages that surround atoms, ions or other molecules. Carbon nanotubes were discovered in 1991 through vaporizing carbon graphite with an electric arc under an inert atmosphere and its chemical vapor deposition. Single-walled carbon nanotubes are essentially graphite sheets rolled into a cylinder and capped with pentagonal rings. The first endrohedral was a lanthanum C60 complex synthesized in 1985. Since then, an ever-growing suite of these structures has been described. Metallic endrohedral complexes are typically formed using an arc reactor or with laser evaporation.


This report contains:


  • Fullerene chemistry, a summary of synthesis techniques, and a description of properties that provide valuable and even unique features and functionality
  • Markets, including exiting, short-term, and long-term applications and market predictions for several scenarios
  • Projections for the global market value through 2011
  • A detailed review of relevant technologies old, new, and upcoming.
  • The top companies in the fullerenes industry as well as a detailed patent analysis.



This study examines the depth and scope of the fullerene global market, and was prepared based using detailed literature searches, patent searches, and structured and ad hoc interviews with researchers, commercial entities, and existing and potential users. This report is intended to provide a unique analysis of the global fullerene and fullerene-consuming markets. This report will be especially useful to fullerene fabricators, compounders, and related equipment manufacturers. It also will be valuable to those involved in nanotechnology development and marketing, as well as those offering competing systems. BCC wishes to thank those companies, government agencies and university researchers who contributed information for this report.


This report's project analyst, Donald Saxman, is a long-time editor of the BCC Research monthly newsletters Battery & EV Technology News and Fuel Cell Technology News and has founded several other BCC newsletters. Saxman has over 25 years experience in market analysis, technical writing, and newsletter editing. Since 1983, he has operated as a technical market consultant, and in this capacity, he has prepared over 60 Technical Market Research Reports for BCC Research. His previous experience includes supervision of a quality-control laboratory at a major secondary lead refinery, experience as an analytical chemist at a hazardous waste testing service, product assurance manager for a space station life support system project, and an information technology business analyst and project manager.

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