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  • Published In : Mar 2024
  • Code : CMI326
  • Pages :430
  • Formats :
      Excel and PDF
  • Industry : Bulk Chemicals

Market Size and Trends

The sulfuric acid market is estimated to be valued at USD 26.89 Bn in 2024 and is expected to reach USD 37.01 Bn by 2031, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.7% from 2024 to 2031.

Sulfuric Acid Market Key Factors

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The demand for sulfuric acid is expected to grow steadily due to its increasing applications in chemical manufacturing industries. It is primarily driven by the growing demand from the fertilizer industry as the world's population is rising. Also, recovery in manufacturing and construction sectors will further contribute to the growth of the sulfuric acid market during the forecast period. For instance, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the current population of the U.S. is expected to increase by 0.7-0.9%, driven by a high level of immigration. With the increasing per capita income and growing population, the demand for food and cash crops is also estimated to increase. For instance, as per the FAO, food demand in the U.S. is expected to increase by 50-90% by 2050.

Industrial production boosting demand

The global sulfuric acid market is closely tied to industrial production levels around the world. Being a bulk chemical with widespread applications, sulfuric acid acts as an important intermediate in the production of numerous chemicals, fertilizers, and other materials. When industrial activities are high, the manufacturing of these downstream products increases rapidly, in turn, driving up demand from sectors such as fertilizers, chemical processing, oil refining, wastewater treatment, and metal processing among others. In recent years, the recovery in global industrial production after the recessionary phase has stimulated significant growth in consumption of sulfuric acid. Particularly, robust capital expenditures in developing economies on expanding domestic manufacturing capabilities has translated to greater sulfuric acid intake. The construction sector has also improved gradually, benefitting the fertilizer industry where sulfuric acid is a core ingredient. Notable too is the rebound in global oil prices which has made oil refining more profitable - sulfuric acid has vital refining applications. Geopolitical concerns such as trade conflicts continue to fuel on-shoring trends and import substitution in many regions, further bolstering indigenous industrial capacity.

Market Concentration and Competitive Landscape

Sulfuric Acid Market Concentration By Players

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Stringent emission regulations benefiting acid consumption

Growing environmental awareness as well as technological progress are compelling industries towards lowering their carbon footprint and turning greener. Sulfuric acid especially finds increased applicability in meeting emission standards getting stricter by the year. Desulfurization of fuel represents one of its primary application areas presently. Sulfur presents in crude oil and needs removal to manufacture ultra-low sulfur gasoline and diesel mandated under legislation. Sulfuric acid aided hydrodesulfurization allows refiners to reduce sulfur content in transport fuels to extremely low permissible limits. With emission norms being tightened further, including recent IMO regulation capping marine fuel sulfur, the demand for desulfurization is anticipated to rise sharply in the coming years.

Sulfuric Acid Market Key Takeaways From Lead Analyst

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Market Challenges: Rising Environmental Concerns

The global sulfuric acid market faces several challenges. Strict environmental regulations constrain the expansion of manufacturing facilities as sulfuric acid production is a highly polluting process. Volatility in key raw material prices, particularly sulfur, leads to uncertainty. Additionally, competition from substitute chemicals threatens market share as more environment-friendly alternatives are developed. Mature markets in Europe and North America show slower growth compared to emerging economies. Changing customer demand towards more customized products adds complexity for producers.

 Market Opportunities: Demand from the Fertilizer Industry

Rising demand from the fertilizer industry is a major driver as the world population increases. Developing economies, such as China, India, Brazil, and others, are expected to boost volumes significantly to support infrastructure growth. The adoption of cleaner production technologies allows expansion into areas with stricter emission norms. 

Sulfuric Acid Market Insights, By Raw Material Type

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Insights, By Raw Material Type: Cost effectiveness drives elemental sulfur domination

In terms of raw material type, elemental sulfur contributes 51.6% share of the market owing to its relatively low production cost compared to other raw materials. Elemental sulfur is readily available from various industries as a byproduct, making it inexpensive to obtain. It requires less processing than pyrite ore to produce sulfuric acid, avoiding the need for expensive smelting and roasting steps. Additionally, the wet contact process used for elemental sulfur conversion has relatively simple equipment and produces fewer waste emissions compared to other production methods. These cost advantages allow sulfuric acid producers to offer competitive prices while still maintaining healthy profit margins when using elemental sulfur as the raw material. The bulk availability and low costs associated with elemental sulfur give it an edge over other materials like pyrite ore in the price-sensitive sulfuric acid market.

Insights, By Application: Ubiquitous usage fuels fertilizers’ dominance

In terms of application, fertilizers contributes 41.1% of the market share due to sulfuric acid's widespread use in fertilizer production. Sulfuric acid serves as the raw material for most sulfate fertilizers like ammonium, potassium, and superphosphates. It reacts with phosphate rock to produce phosphoric acid, a key compound in many fertilizer formulations. Given the vast global demand for fertilizers to support agriculture, any disruption in sulfuric acid supply would impact food security. Producers therefore prioritize reliable sulfuric acid allocations to fertilizer customers. Additionally, favorable regulations in major markets promote fertilizer usage. Subsidies and policies in countries like China, India, and Brazil encourage fertilizer adoption amongst farmers. This growing fertilizer consumption directly correlates to higher sulfuric acid volumes absorbed by the fertilizer application segment. The essential role that sulfuric acid plays in meeting humanity's nutritional needs tilts the scales in favor of the fertilizer segment.

Insights, By Manufacturing Process: Cost and environmental factors elevate the wet contact process

In terms of manufacturing process, the wet contact process contributes the highest share of the market owing to its cost competitiveness and relatively cleaner emissions profile. The wet contact process entails burning sulfur vapor in air towers to produce sulfur trioxide gas, which is then absorbed in sulfuric acid. While requiring large contact towers, its equipment costs are lower than the expensive lead chambers of the lead chamber process. It avoids using toxic heavy metals and produces less bottom waste than alternative processes. Additionally, the wet process yields higher conversion efficiencies at lower operating costs due to improved mass transfer relative to single contact. This enhances profits for sulfuric acid producers. Stringent environmental regulations in major markets also favor its relatively cleaner emissions. Wet contact has thus gained broader acceptance due to the favorable balance it strikes between production costs, conversion efficiency, and sustainable operations. Going forward, wet contact process is likely to retain its dominance as both economy and ecology become greater priorities for manufacturers.

Regional Insights

Sulfuric Acid Market Regional Insights

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North America has dominated the global sulfuric acid market for the past few decades with 42.4% of the market share. The region accounts for the largest market share due to a strong presence of chemical and fertilizer industries which are the major end users of sulfuric acid. The U.S. is the single largest country-level market owing to the presence of many acid consuming industries. Moreover, the country remains one of the top producers of the chemical aided by the easy availability of key raw materials. Many international players have established their production facilities in the region to cater to the local demand. This has further boosted the domestic manufacturing of sulfuric acid.

Asia Pacific has emerged as the fastest growing regional market for sulfuric acid in recent years. China accounts for the major share of both production and consumption in the region. The country has witnessed a rapid growth in the manufacturing sector involving industries like chemicals, fertilizers, and petrochemicals. This has translated into a burgeoning demand for sulfuric acid. Moreover, the Chinese government has actively promoted self-sufficiency in fertilizer production to boost agricultural yields. As a result, domestic sulfuric acid manufacturing has increased substantially to meet the escalating demand from fertilizer plants. Apart from China, India is another high growth market attributed to robust industrial development. The South Asian nation has also witnessed major capacity additions in sulfuric acid plants over the last decade.

Market Report Scope

Sulfuric Acid Market Report Coverage

Report Coverage Details
Base Year: 2023 Market Size in 2024: US$ 26.89 Bn
Historical Data for: 2019 To 2023 Forecast Period: 2024 To 2031
Forecast Period 2024 to 2031 CAGR: 4.7% 2031 Value Projection: US$ 37.01 Bn
Geographies covered:
  • North America: U.S. and Canada
  • Latin America: Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Rest of Latin America
  • Europe: Germany, U.K., Spain, France, Italy, Russia, and Rest of Europe
  • Asia Pacific: China, India, Japan, Australia, South Korea, ASEAN, and Rest of Asia Pacific
  • Middle East & Africa: GCC Countries, Israel, and Rest of Middle East & Africa
Segments covered:
  • By Raw Material Type: Pyrite Ore , Elemental Sulfur , Base Metal Smelters , and Others
  • By Application: Fertilizers , Pulp & Paper , Textiles , Chemical Manufacturing , Metal Processing , Automotive Battery Acid , Petroleum Refining , and Others
  • By Manufacturing Process: Single Contact Process , Wet Contact Process , Lead Chamber Process , and Others 
Companies covered:

PVS Chemicals, BASF SE, Akzo Nobel N.V., DowDuPont Inc., Unigel Group, Boliden Group, Ineos Enterprises Limited, Trident Chemicals, Aurubis AG, Climax Molybdenum B.V., Amal Ltd., The Mosaic Company, Solvay, Agrium Inc., Vizag Chemicals, Bodal Chemicals, HZL India, and Aarti Industries

Growth Drivers:
  • Rising environmental concerns
  • Growing adoption of alternative chemicals
Restraints & Challenges:
  • Rising environmental concerns
  • Growing adoption of alternative chemicals

Key Developments

  • In May 2022, WeylChem International GmbH successfully finalized the acquisition and integration of INEOS Sulfur Chemicals Spain SLU, a prominent sulfur chemicals division of INEOS based in Spain. This acquisition included the cutting-edge facility in Bilbao with an impressive annual production capacity of 350,000 tons for sulfuric acid. Following the integration, the rebranded entity now operates as "WeylChem Bilbao," marking a significant expansion and enhancement of WeylChem International GmbH's sulfur business portfolio.
  • In August 2022, PVS Chemicals, Inc. forged a strategic partnership with Energy Systems Group, LLC with the aim of enhancing the sustainability of its sulfuric acid plant in Chicago, U.S. This collaboration focused on implementing a waste steam collection system to harness energy and generate 2.6 MW of renewable power through a steam turbine generator. By utilizing this innovative approach, PVS Chemicals, Inc. aimed to improve the environmental footprint of its operations while also contributing to renewable energy generation.
  • In July 2021, Boliden, a Sweden-based mining and smelting company, announced an expansion plan for its Odda zinc smelter in Western Norway. This expansion, with an investment of US$ 700 million, aimed to increase the facility's capacity by 75% to 350,000 tons/year. The expansion included the construction of a new roaster, a new sulfuric acid plant, and a new cell house. Additionally, the existing leaching and purification plant, foundry, and quay infrastructure were to be expanded and modernized. The project was scheduled to be completed by 2024.
  • In July 2021, BASF, Zhejiang Jiahua Energy Chemical Industry Co. Ltd., and Zhejiang Jiafu New Material Technology Co. Ltd. entered into a strategic partnership to expand the production capacity of electronic-grade sulfuric acid in China. The collaboration aimed to address the growing demand for high-purity sulfuric acid in the electronics industry.
  • *Definition: The sulfuric acid market refers to the global industry for the manufacturing and distribution of sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid has a wide range of industrial applications and is primarily used to produce phosphate fertilizers and other chemical products. It is also used in petroleum refining, production of steel and aluminum, and in the formulation of domestic and industrial cleaning agents.

Market Segmentation

  • Raw Material Type Insights (Revenue, USD Bn & MT, 2019 - 2031)
    • Pyrite Ore
    • Elemental Sulfur
    • Base Metal Smelters
    • Others
  •  Application Insights (Revenue, USD Bn & MT, 2019 - 2031)
    • Fertilizers
    • Pulp & Paper
    • Textiles
    • Chemical Manufacturing
    • Metal Processing
    • Automotive Battery Acid
    • Petroleum Refining
    • Others
  •  Manufacturing Process Insights (Revenue, USD Bn & MT, 2019 - 2031)
    • Single Contact Process
    • Wet Contact Process
    • Lead Chamber Process
    • Others
  • Regional Insights (Revenue, USD Bn & MT, 2019 - 2031)
    • North America
      • U.S.
      • Canada
    • Latin America
      • Brazil
      • Argentina
      • Mexico
      • Rest of Latin America
    • Europe
      • Germany
      • U.K.
      • Spain
      • France
      • Italy
      • Russia
      • Rest of Europe
    • Asia Pacific
      • China
      • India
      • Japan
      • Australia
      • South Korea
      • ASEAN
      • Rest of Asia Pacific
    • Middle East & Africa
      • GCC Countries
      • Israel
      • Rest of Middle East & Africa
  • Key Players Insights
    • PVS Chemicals
    • BASF SE
    • Akzo Nobel N.V.
    • DowDuPont Inc.
    • Unigel Group
    • Boliden Group
    • Ineos Enterprises Limited
    • Trident Chemicals
    • Aurubis AG
    • Climax Molybdenum B.V.
    • Amal Ltd.
    • The Mosaic Company
    • Solvay
    • Agrium Inc.
    • Vizag Chemicals
    • Bodal Chemicals
    • HZL India
    • Aarti Industries

Frequently Asked Questions

The CAGR of the sulfuric acid market is projected to be 4.7% from 2024 to 2031.

Industrial production boosting demand and stringent emission regulations benefiting acid consumption are the major factors driving the growth of the sulfuric acid market.

Rising environmental concerns and growing adoption of alternative chemicals are the major factors hampering the growth of the sulfuric acid market.

In terms of raw material type, elemental sulfur is estimated to dominate the market revenue share in 2024.

PVS Chemicals, BASF SE, Akzo Nobel N.V., DowDuPont Inc., Unigel Group, Boliden Group, Ineos Enterprises Limited, Trident Chemicals, Aurubis AG, Climax Molybdenum B.V., Amal Ltd., The Mosaic Company, Solvay, Agrium Inc., Vizag Chemicals, Bodal Chemicals, HZL India, and Aarti Industries are the major players operating in the market.

North America is expected to lead the sulfuric acid market.

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