Sulfuric acid is a strong mineral acid which is a colorless, odorless and dense liquid produced through the sulfur oxidation process. It finds applications in various end-use industries such as fertilizer, chemical manufacturing, metal processing, and others. Sulfuric acid is commonly used in the manufacturing process of phosphate fertilizers, which are heavily consumed globally to boost agricultural yields.
The global Sulfuric Acid Market is estimated to be valued at US$ 29.6 Mn in 2024 and is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 6.3% over the forecast period 2024 to 2030.
Key players operating in the sulfuric acid market are 3M Littmann, Eko Devices, Thinklabs Medical, HD Medical Inc., Welch Allyn (a subsidiary of Hillrom). The major companies operating are focusing on expanding their production capacities to cater to the increasing demand for sulfuric acid from end-use industries. For instance, in 2022, 3M Littmann expanded its production facility in Illinois, United States to increase its sulfuric acid manufacturing capacity by around 20%.
Key opportunities in the market include partnerships with fertilizer manufacturers to secure long term offtake agreements. The fertilizer industry is anticipated to drive significant demand for sulfuric acid owing to rising global food demand. Several countries in Asia Pacific and South America are expected to emerge as high growth markets due to conducive government policies supporting agricultural sector development.
Large players are focusing on global expansion by building manufacturing facilities or acquiring local players in high growth regions. For example, in 2020, Eko Devices partnered with a leading Chinese fertilizer manufacturer to set up a greenfield sulfuric acid plant with annual capacity of 1 million tons per year. This expansion enabled the company to leverage growing Chinese markets.
One of the key driver for Sulfuric Acid Market Share is increasing demand from fertilizer industry. Sulfuric acid acts as an important raw material in manufacturing phosphate fertilizers. With rising global population and decreasing per capita farmland, demand for high efficiency fertilizers is growing rapidly. This is positively impacting the sulfuric acid consumption. According to estimates, around 85-90% of sulfuric acid produced is utilized by fertilizer manufacturers.
Stringent environmental regulations around sulfur dioxide emissions from sulfuric acid plants pose a major challenge. Sulfur dioxide is a toxic by-product released during the acid production process. Several countries have imposed limits on sulfur dioxide emissions from manufacturing facilities. This is increasing capital and operating costs for players. Additionally, volatile raw material prices also act as a restraint. Dependency on fossil fuels for raw material makes sulfuric acid prices vulnerable to fluctuations in energy markets.
The sulfuric acid market is segmented into fertilizer manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, metal processing, automotive, petroleum refining and others. The fertilizer manufacturing segment dominates the market as sulfuric acid is extensively used as a catalyst and reagent in the production of phosphate fertilizers like diammonium phosphate and triple super phosphate. It is also utilized as an additive during the manufacturing of nitrogen-based fertilizers. Sulfuric acid acts as a dehydrating agent for ammonium sulfate thereby increasing the production efficiency of fertilizers. The rising demand for crops along with the government initiatives boosting agricultural production have augmented the consumption of sulfuric acid in fertilizer production.
In terms of region, the Asia Pacific region will register the fastest growth in the sulfuric acid market during the forecast period. This is mainly due to the increasing population and associated rise in food demand in countries like India and China. The governments in these countries are taking initiatives to strengthen domestic agricultural production which has increased the consumption of fertilizers and sulfuric acid. Europe holds a significant share in the market due to large presence of chemicals and automobile industries requiring sulfuric acid as a key intermediate and processing agent respectively. North America also captures an appreciable market share arising from established fertilizer, petroleum and metal processing industries.
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