Chlor-alkali is a set of scientific procedures followed for manufacturing caustic soda, chlorine, and sodium-based derivatives. Other derivatives from this process include hydrogen gas, sodium hypochlorite, bleaching powder, hydrochloric acid, and chlorinated paraffin. These products are used in a myriad of industries, further driving the market growth.
Manufacturers of chemicals such as chlorine have been upgrading their manufacturing facilities to cater to the growing demand for chlorine and other allied products. Chlorine is used for treating water in swimming pools. It is also used for making water drinkable. There has been an increase in demand for drinking water. Global population has been growing at an exponential rate. This growth is prominent in emerging and under-developed countries.
Chlor-alkali is used in the manufacturing and production of alkali and basic inorganic chemicals, the increasing use of which is likely to drive the demand for chlor-alkali chemicals in the years to come.
Rising industrial activities is subsequently increasing water pollution as untreated chemical waste is dumped in water sources. Additionally, haphazard development of major cities in developing regions such as Asia-Pacific and Latin America has resulted in water contamination. For instance, as of June 2019, around two billion people use contaminated water. This is further compelling the government to establish water treatment plants, further driving the demand for chlorine. For instance, the global water filtering machinery sales were valued at USD 7.28 billion in 2016 and reached USD 7.61 billion in 2017.
The global trade for hydrogen has been proliferating over the past few decades. International demand for hydrogen has witnessed threefold increase since 1975. Hydrogen is one of the important raw materials used in the chemical industry as a reducing agent. It is also a primary chemical used in the production of ammonia fertilizers.
Hydrogen is used in the manufacturing of fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), the stock of which reached 11,200 units at the end of 2018. The FCEV sales were around 4000 units in 2017 alone. Countries around the globe are actively working to promote the use of low emission vehicles and alternative fuel in vehicles, further driving the adoption of hydrogen-powered vehicles.
Alumina or aluminium oxide is likely to witness high production during the forecast period. Caustic soda is the primary material used in the refining operation of alumina. Additionally, the rapidly expanding alumina industry provides impetus to market growth. However, alumina’s negative impact on the environment hampers the market growth.
Table: Global Data for Alumina Production 2016 to 2020 (K-Metric Tons)
The membrane cell process is expected to witness the highest growth rate due to its eco-friendly properties. The process is extensively used in the establishment of new plants. However, the process is expensive, which might hamper the segment growth. The energy consumption in the membrane cell process ranges around 2,250–2,500 kW per metric ton as compared to 2,400–2,700 kW per metric tons required for chlorine production. The World Bank Group does not finance mercury cell technology, which might restrict the market growth. Stringent regulations guarding carbon and mercury emissions will hamper the market growth. To address the situation, manufacturers are following certain steps to control pollution level;
The caustic soda segment is expected to hold a considerable market share. It is extensively used in the paper and pulp industry for bleaching pulpwood and drilling fluid in the oil and gas industry. Rising adoption of caustic soda in production processes drives the segment growth.
Based on the application, the chlor-alkali chemical market is segmented into paper and pulp and water treatment. The paper and pulp segment dominated the chlor-alkali market. The global paper demand has been increasing rapidly in the last few years. As per the Environmental Paper Network, the global paper demand exceeded 400 million tons per year. The U.S., Japan, and China are leading producers of paper. Increasing demand for consumer goods due to the advent of e-commerce platforms drives the segment growth. Rising use of paper for attractive packaging provides impetus to market growth.
Europe is the home to technological advancements. The governments in the region are actively working to develop environment-friendly alternatives. For instance, the mercury process is phased out for the production of chlor-alkali chemicals across the region. The stringent regulations, coupled with growing environmental awareness drives the regional market growth. Other regional developments include;
Asia-Pacific’s chlor alkali chemical market is anticipated to grow at the fastest pace. Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore are at the forefront of the regional market. In South Korea and Japan, the rising demand for caustic soda provides impetus to market growth. Apart from this, the expansion of Chinese environmental policy will impact the demand for caustic soda and chlorine across the country.
Olin Corporation, Solvay S.A., Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Tata Chemicals Limited, AkzoNobel N.V., Axiall Corporation, Hanwha Chemical Corporation, Formosa Plastic Corporation, Tosoh Corporation, Xinjiang Zhongtai Chemical Co. Ltd., Tronox Limited, Reliance Industries Limited, Aditya Birla Group, DCW Ltd., Kanoria Chemicals, Dow Chemicals, Bayer Material Sciences AG
The vendors involved in chlor-alkali market are a combination of small and large scale operators. Furthermore, the regulatory scenario with regards to the manufacturing and distribution of chlor-alkali chemicals is dynamic. This is one of the reasons why smaller players are likely to face high entry and exit barriers in this market. Larger players are likely to opt for strategies such as mergers and acquisitions, and partnerships in order to expand their reach or gain higher market penetration. Furthermore, as regulations related to emissions get stricter, manufacturers are likely to optimize their production operations and license the new process developed.