The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by government regulations and environmentally conscious consumers, and growing importance of technologies such as high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters and ultra-low particulate air (ULPA) filters. In the last three years alone, there have been over 1.2 million patents filed and granted in the automotive industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environmental sustainability in Automotive: Zeolites for exhaust filtering

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity. 

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have. 

290+ innovations will shape the automotive industry 

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the automotive industry using innovation intensity models built on over 619,000 patents, there are 290+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry. 

Within the emerging innovation stage, EV discharge prediction, fuel cell ion exchange membranes, and hydrogen ICE fuel tanks are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. V2G smart metering, silicon-air batteries, and zeolites for exhaust filtering are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are HEV propulsion systems and wind-powered vehicles, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the automotive industry 

Zeolites for exhaust filtering is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability 

Zeolites are a filtration material used for hydrocarbon trapping, selective catalytic reduction of nitrogen oxides (NOx) with NH3 (NH3-SCR), and hydrocarbon NOx reduction applications. Zeolites capture these harmful pollutants that are not taken care of by the catalytic converter. They have a natural porosity because of their crystalline structure, which gives them the ability to trap particles in their pores, called cages.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 50 companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of zeolites for exhaust filtering. 

Key players in zeolites for exhaust filtering – a disruptive innovation in the automotive industry  

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators. 

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’. 

Patent volumes related to zeolites for exhaust filtering

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Johnson Matthey 695 Unlock company profile
BASF 379 Unlock company profile
Aisin 261 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 243 Unlock company profile
General Motors 112 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 77 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 66 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 64 Unlock company profile
Nippon Shokubai 62 Unlock company profile
IBIDEN 59 Unlock company profile
Chugoku Electric Power 56 Unlock company profile
Haldor Topsoe Holding 56 Unlock company profile
Mitsui Mining & Smelting 53 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 48 Unlock company profile
NGK Insulators 46 Unlock company profile
Kia 43 Unlock company profile
Nissan Motor 36 Unlock company profile
Hitachi Zosen 30 Unlock company profile
Mazda Motor 27 Unlock company profile
Carnival 26 Unlock company profile
LG 21 Unlock company profile
Isuzu Motors 21 Unlock company profile
Umicore 19 Unlock company profile
CDTi Advanced Materials 18 Unlock company profile
Denso 15 Unlock company profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 15 Unlock company profile
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 14 Unlock company profile
AB Volvo 13 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Chemical Group 13 Unlock company profile
Corning 12 Unlock company profile
CEA 12 Unlock company profile
Solvay 10 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 9 Unlock company profile
Otsuka Holdings 8 Unlock company profile
Dow 8 Unlock company profile
Kabushiki Kaisha Atsumitec 8 Unlock company profile
Subaru 7 Unlock company profile
Purem 7 Unlock company profile
Tenneco 7 Unlock company profile
Renault 7 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 7 Unlock company profile
Tata Motors 7 Unlock company profile
Samsung Heavy Industries 6 Unlock company profile
Eberspacher Gruppe 6 Unlock company profile
Emitec Gesellschaft fur Emissionstechnologie mbH 6 Unlock company profile
Sinocat Environmental Technology 5 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 5 Unlock company profile
Yamaha Motor 5 Unlock company profile
Daiichi Kigenso Kagaku Kogyo 5 Unlock company profile
Clariant 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Johnson Matthey is a key player in the zeolites for exhaust filtering innovation area with 695 patents filed. The company engages in the production of zeolites for the selective catalytic reduction method of exhaust filtering. Johnson Matthey’s zeolites have excellent and varied filtration properties in addition to adsorption ability, which provides an advantage over costly, energy-intensive alternative separation methods such as distillation, absorption, and thermally driven separation processes. BASF, Toyota, and Aisin are some of the other key players.

To further understand how environmental sustainability is disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Automotive


 GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article. 

 GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.