Bleaching earth is a material usually produced from selectively mined clay and is used in the oil processing industry for applications such as decolorization of mineral oil, waxes, animal oil, and vegetable oil. It is also employed to enhance the stability of refined oil. High bleaching efficiency, fast filtration rate, low oil retention, and ability to minimize the increase of fatty acids are some of the desirable characteristics of bleaching earth. It also helps in removing impurities such as soap and trace metal, without having any impact on the appearance, flavor, and nutritional properties of oil. Bleaching earth is usually made up of montemonillonite and bentonite clay, which are rich in aluminum and silicon content.
They also contain magnesium, calcium, and iron. Bleaching earth is of two types: natural bleaching earth and acid activated bleaching earth. It can be categorized depending on the process employed to produce it. Natural bleaching earth is a clay that is mined, crushed, dried, ground, and sized. On the other hand, acid activated bleaching earth is produced using steps such as mining, crushing, acid treatment, washing, filtering, drying, grinding, and sizing. Bleaching earth is utilized in a number of industrial applications in the refining of vegetable, animal, mineral oil, etc. Asia Pacific is a major region of the bleaching earth market, with high demand for the product from major vegetable producers such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, China, India, etc.
In terms of the process used to produce bleaching earth, the market can be segmented into natural bleaching earth and activated bleaching earth. The production process of activated bleaching earth involves treatment of natural bleaching earth with acid. Currently, the activated bleaching earth segment holds a major share of the bleaching earth market and is anticipated to continue its dominance during the forecast period.
In terms of refining process employed for refining the end-product, the market can be segmented into dry bleaching and wet bleaching. Dry bleaching is among the traditional processes of bleaching oils and fats. It is most commonly employed in Asia and Europe. Dry bleaching involves heating of oil and then mixing it with bleaching earth. The wet bleaching process involves addition of water during the process, due to which the bleaching earth work more efficiently. Currently, the dry bleaching process is primarily employed for the refining process as the start-up and overall costs incurred in the process are less compared to those of wet bleaching. The wet bleaching method segment is anticipated to expand at a significant CAGR during the forecast period due to the low cost of the process. Moreover, the addition of water brings out better performance of bleaching earth as compared to the dry method.
In terms of application, the bleaching earth market can be categorized into oil refining, decolorization, purification, and other applications. Currently, the market is dominated by the oil refining application segment, which is anticipated to continue its dominance during the forecast period. The segment is anticipated to expand at a rapid pace during the forecast period, due to the increasing demand for oil processing applications with increase in oil production, especially in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, etc.
In terms of geography, Asia Pacific dominated the bleaching earth market. This is primarily due to the increasing demand for edible oils in the region as a result of rapid increase in population. There has been a considerable increase in the production and exports of vegetable oils from the region in the past few years, especially from countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, China, and India. Asia Pacific is anticipated to continue its dominance and expand at a rapid pace during the forecast period.
Key players operating in the market include Musim Mas Holdings Pte. Ltd., Taiko group, Ashapura Midgulf NV, Clariant International Ltd., Artha Mineral Resources, Ashapura Perfoclay Limited, Refoil Earth Pvt. Ltd., and XinyuanTechnology Co., Ltd.