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Sulfuric Acid Market is estimated to be valued at USD 26.89 Bn in 2024

Sulfuric Acid Market is estimated to be valued at USD 26.89 Bn in 2024 - Coherent Market Insights

Publish In: Mar 14, 2024

The sulfuric acid market is estimated to be valued at USD 26.89 Bn in 2024, growing at a CAGR of 4.7% over the forecast period (2024-2031). Furthermore, the growing application of sulfuric acid in chemical processing is expected to propel the market growth.

Market Dynamics:

The sulfuric acid market is primarily driven by the increasing consumption of phosphate fertilizers across the globe. Phosphoric acid is one of the major applications of sulfuric acid and accounts for over 70% of the sulfuric acid consumption. Phosphate fertilizers help to boost agricultural productivity and with growing population, their demand is surging exponentially. Another key driver is the expanding automotive industry. Sulfuric acid plays a critical role in the production of lead-acid batteries that are mainly used in automotive applications.

Rapid Industrialization is Driving Demand for Sulfuric Acid

The mining industry has seen significant growth over the past few years due to rapid industrialization in developing economies such as India, China, and others. Sulfuric acid has wide applications in the mining industry for extracting metals like copper, nickel, zinc, and others from their ores. It is also used to produce fertilizers which are critical for high agricultural yields to meet the food demand of growing populations. The expanding mining and agricultural sectors are driving up the consumption of sulfuric acid globally. According to industry reports, the mining industry is projected to grow at more than 5% annually over the next 5 years, fueling the demand for sulfuric acid.

Growth of Fertilizer Industry is Accelerating Sulfuric Acid Usage

Along with mining, the fertilizer industry is another major end-user for sulfuric acid accounting for over 35% of the global demand. With the world population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, there is mounting pressure on farmers to significantly boost agricultural productivity through higher fertilizer application. This is prompting fertilizer manufacturers to raise production levels. As sulfuric acid is a primary raw material for most nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers, its demand is rising commensurately. The fertilizer industry is projected to increase sulfuric acid consumption at more than 3-4% each year over the medium term to meet agricultural needs of a growing global population.

 Stringent Environment Regulations Pose a Challenge

Sulfuric acid production and handling operations are highly polluting and pose serious health risks if not done as per prescribed guidelines. Stricter environmental regulations implemented by governments globally to curb emissions and hazards related to sulfuric acid storage and transportation have increased compliance costs for manufacturers. Moreover, regulations around sulfur dioxide emissions during acid manufacturing have compelled producers to invest in emission control technologies like flue gas desulfurization units, raising production costs. The costs incurred to adhere to safety and environmental norms impact the profitability of sulfuric acid producers and act as a restraint to the market.

Dependence on Foreign Sulfur Imports Raises Supply Risk

Most countries have limited natural reserves of sulfur, a key raw material used in sulfuric acid manufacturing, and rely heavily on imports. According to the US Geological Survey, the top five sulfur producing countries which meet a major part of the global demand are Russia, China, U.S., Canada, and Kazakhstan. Any geopolitical issues or supply disruptions from these key exporting nations negatively impacts the available sulfur volumes globally and escalates prices. Reliance on imports makes the sulfuric acid supply vulnerable to events beyond producers' control, like changes in export policies or supply shocks, posing a restraint on stable market conditions.

Capacity Expansions in Developing Markets Provide Opportunities

With rapid industrialization and agricultural growth, sulfuric acid consumption in Asia Pacific and Middle East & Africa is projected to expand at a higher pace compared to other regions over the coming years. To cater to the rising local demand, several greenfield sulfuric acid plants with large production capacities are being commissioned or planned across developing markets like India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and certain Middle Eastern nations. This spate of new capacity additions presents opportunities for technology suppliers and equipment vendors to gain projects in these emerging sulfuric acid manufacturing hubs.

Shift towards Sulfate Fertilizers Offers Lucrative Opportunities

With concerns rising around nitrate fertilizers' impact on groundwater pollution, several countries and fertilizer producers are advocating a gradual switch towards less water-soluble sulfate fertilizers. Sulfate fertilizers like ammonium sulfate employ sulfuric acid as a manufacturing raw material. The growing preference for sulfate fertilizers as a more sustainable option compared to conventional nitrate varieties is expected to boost the long-term demand for sulfuric acid. This developing trend presents a lucrative growth opportunity for the global sulfuric acid market over the coming decade.

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Key Developments

  • 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 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 is 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, 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. The specific details of the expansion plan and the investment involved were not provided in the search results.
  • 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's sulfur business portfolio.

Key Players

  • 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

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