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Growing Significance of Applications and Favorable Initiatives to Drive the Adoption of Vacuum Pumps

   May 4, 2023

The automotive, semiconductors, consumer goods, and pharmaceutical industries have witnessed significant growth in recent years due to the rising adoption of electric vehicles, semiconductor components, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and consumer products. This growth has boosted the demand for Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries for electric vehicles and consumer electronics such as cell phones and laptops. Moreover, the demand for zinc has also increased significantly for manufacturing metal coatings, medication, makeup, pigments, and skincare products. This growing demand for lithium, zinc, and other materials has led to an increase in mining activities, driving the utilization of vacuum pumps.

According to Provac Sales, Inc. (U.S.), a provider of services for vacuum pumps and helium leak detectors, approximately 80% of zinc is mined through the open-pit method, which extensively utilizes vacuum pumps. The demand for lithium-ion batteries is rising due to the proliferation of electronic devices and the rising adoption of electric vehicles. Lithium is a major component in the manufacture of batteries, with over 50% of the lithium mined being used for battery production. The increased focus on lithium mining is driving the adoption of vacuum pumps globally.

The growth of the global fine chemicals industry is also driving the vacuum pumps market. The increasing applications of vacuum pumps, such as removing oxygen and moisture in the agrochemical, food, and lubricants sectors, are also driving the demand for vacuum pumps. Several synthesis and concentration processes require the use of vacuum technology. High-capacity suction pumps increase pressure and accelerate filtering processes. According to the European Chemical Industry Council (AISBL, Belgium), global chemical sales increased by 15.2% from USD 3,990.9 billion in 2020 to USD 4,763.6 billion in 2021. The chemical industry landscape is changing rapidly, driving the demand for vacuum pumps. However, the high energy consumption of vacuum pumps hampers their adoption, restraining the growth of this market.

In the photovoltaics (PV) value chain, the use of vacuum pumps spans a wide range of processes, from producing raw materials (solar-grade silicon) to laminating thin-film or crystalline silicon-based modules. Using vacuum pumps in photovoltaic processes has become a trend in the solar industry. Different types of vacuum pumps are used for processes such as silicon (Si) production and plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD). Innovative and efficient vacuum pumps are a quintessential part of any production line. They enable safe operation, meet process requirements effectively, guarantee high uptime reliability, and ensure a low cost of ownership (CoO) through minimal maintenance and servicing requirements.

In recent years, vacuum pumps, especially compressing screw-type pumps, have successfully replaced oil-sealed pumps in many solar applications. This technology is preferred as it delivers excellent pumping performance, especially when pumping down from the atmospheric level while keeping the operating parameters of energy, water, purging gases, and oil exchanges to a minimum. A combination of the above factors offsets the higher capital costs of these pumps, lowering the cost of ownership and maximizing returns on investment. These benefits of vacuum pumps are driving their adoption in the solar industry.

The scarcity of clean water is a major global concern driving the need for seawater desalination. Several desalination methods are available such as MSF (Multi-stage Flash Distillation) and reverse osmosis. However, both of these methods have high investment requirements. Therefore, desalination has emerged as a more economical and easier method to obtain clean water. Vacuum pumps speed up the evaporation of seawater, and ultraviolet lights degrade heavy metal pollutants and eliminate harmful bacteria. Vacuum pumps increase water production by up to 2 times, with water showing a decrease in some (99.7% total dissolved solids {TDS}, 99.93% salinity, 100% total coliform, and heavy metals) pollutants. Thus, the scarcity of freshwater resources is expected to increase the need to desalinate seawater, driving the adoption of vacuum pumps. However, the improper installation of vacuum pumps is a challenge for the market’s growth.

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