Hydrochloric acid, also known as muriatic acid, is a colorless, highly corrosive, and extremely strong mineral acid. It is the primary component of gastric acid and has a wide range of applications in industry. Its main uses include metal cleaning and pickling, chemical processing, sugar refining, wastewater treatment, and oil well acidizing. Hydrochloric acid is also used in the production of chlorides, fertilizers, and dyes, as well as in the photographic, textile, and rubber industries.
The global hydrochloric acid market is projected to grow from USD 2.5 Billion in 2022 to USD 3.4 Billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 6.6% during the forecast period. The major driving factors for the growth of the hydrochloric acid market are steel pickling, production of inorganic compounds, pH control and neutralization, regeneration of ion exchangers, and increase demand for water & wastewater treatment.
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Hydrochloric acid is a colourless liquid and depending upon the concentration, the boiling point ranges from 110 °C (383 K), 20.2% solution to 48 °C (321 K), 38% solution. This strong acid is highly corrosive and must be handled with appropriate safety precautions. Hydrochloric acid is extensively used in steel, ore processing, oil well acidizing, and food industries. In the steel industry, it runs operations in a pickling unit that helps remove impurities such as carbon and rust. The demand for hydrochloric acid is increasing due to the steel industry growth in developing countries such as China and India.
The hydrochloric acid market is fragmented in nature with key players being BASF SE (Germany), Covestro AG (Germany), Olin Corporation (US), Westlake Chemical Corporation (US), Occidental Petroleum Corporation (US), Formosa Plastics Corporation (Taiwan), Tata Chemicals Limited (India), AGC Chemicals (Japan), ERCO Worldwide (Canada), Detrex Corporation (US), among others.
BASF is a chemical company having a presence in more than 80 countries, globally. The company operates through six business segments: chemicals, performance products, functional materials & solutions, agricultural solutions, oil & gas, and others. Its products are used in several sectors, such as agriculture, chemicals, construction, energy & resources, home care and I&I cleaning, paints & coatings, personal care & hygiene, and pulp & paper. The company operates globally through its subsidiaries, such as BASF Personal Care and Nutrition GmbH (Germany), BASF Beauty Care Solutions (France), BASF Corporation (US), and BASF Chemicals (China). It also carries out R&D in alliance with global customers, scientists, and partners. The company operates through a network of manufacturing facilities across the world. It has a presence in Europe, Asia Pacific, South America, Africa, the Middle East, and North America.
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Covestro AG (Covestro) is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-quality polymer materials and their components. The company supplies its customers worldwide in key industries such as mobility, building, and electrical & electronics. Polymers from Covestro are also used in sports & leisure, cosmetics & health, and chemical sectors. The company is committed to becoming fully circular and is striving to become climate neutral by 2035. At the end of 2021, the company had 50 production sites worldwide. It operates in two business segments: performance materials and solutions & specialties. The performance materials segment forms a separate business entity comprising Covestro’s standard polycarbonates, standard urethane components, and base chemicals businesses. The solutions & specialties segment comprises six business entities: engineering plastics, coatings and adhesives, tailored urethanes, thermoplastic polyurethanes, specialty films, and elastomers. Covestro’s Tarragona site has a plant to produce isocyanates and hydrochloric acid and a logistics and distribution center for hydrochloric acid. It is currently building a plant to produce chlorine and caustic soda.
Olin Corporation manufactures chemicals and ammunition. Its business is divided into three segments: Chlor-Alkali Products and Vinyls, Epoxy (epoxy materials and precursors), and Winchester (arms and ammunition). Its Chlor-Alkali Products include chlorine and caustic soda, methyl chloride, methylene chloride, ethylene dichloride & vinyl chloride monomer, chloroform, hydrochloric acid, simultaneously with 1-ton perchloroethylene, carbon tetrachloride, trichloroethylene, bleach products, hydrogen, and potassium hydroxide. The Chlor-Alkali and Epoxy businesses were added to the company as a spin-off from The Dow Chemical Company in 2015. The company provides burner-grade hydrochloric acid, and offers it in several concentrations–18, 20, and 22 Degree Baume’ strength. The hydrochloric acid produced by the company is used for various applications such as steel, oil well acidizing, plastics, organic chemical synthesis, water and wastewater treatment, brine treatment, artificial sweeteners, food processing, ore and mineral processing, photography, textiles, and rubber. The company produces chlorine, caustic soda, and hydrogen through the electrolysis of salt, also known as the Electrochemical Unit (ECU). These products are produced simultaneously in the proportion of 1 ton of chlorine to 1.1 tons of caustic soda and 0.03 tons of hydrogen. The company offers these chlor-alkali products for polyvinylchloride (PVC), water treatment, alumina, pulp & paper, detergents & soaps, and other applications. It has seven production facilities for chlorine and caustic soda in the US and Canada. The company has a strong presence in North America and offers products across Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America.
The companies have initiated the following developments:
- In July 2021, Olin Corporation entered into an agreement with ASHTA Chemicals, Inc. (US) to buy and sell chlorine produced at ASHTA’s Ohio facility in the US.
- In January 2021, Formosa Plastics announced the expansion of production facilities based in the US, Taiwan, and China.
- In February 2018, Westlake Chemical Corporation planned to expand the production capacities of chlor-alkali, PVC, and VCM at its facilities in Germany and Louisiana, US.
- In December 2019, Tata Chemicals acquired a 25% partnership interest in Tata Chemicals Partners Holdings from The Andover Group, Inc., a subsidiary of Owens-Illinois Inc., for USD 195 million. Through this, the company gained complete ownership of Tata Chemicals Limited.
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