Sodium hypochlorite is an inorganic salt of hypochlorous acid. It is a clear, unstable, highly corrosive liquid with a pungent odor. It is manufactured commercially by hooker process which involves passing chlorine gas into dilute sodium hydroxide (NaOH) solution in the presence of active electrodes. The process is essentially carried out at low temperature as sodium hypochlorite is unstable at temperatures higher than 40 degrees Celsius and starts converting into sodium chlorate. Sodium chloride or common salt is a common by-product of this process.
Sodium hypochlorite is primarily used as the basic ingredient in household bleaches and stain removal detergents. It is used as a biocide and chlorinating agent in industrial as well as municipal water treatment plants. Sodium hypochlorite is also used as a disinfectant in surface cleaner formulations, especially in restaurants and equipment for food processing. Some other uses for sodium hypochlorite include neutralizing chemical agent for nerve gas disposal and as biocide and pulp digestion chemical in endodontic applications by dentists. The sodium hypochlorite market is driven by its demand in water treatment applications and household bleach products especially stain remover and surface cleaner formulations. However, instability and hazardous nature of sodium hypochlorite due to its strong oxidizing properties might hamper the market growth. Skin treatment formulations with highly diluted concentrations of sodium hypochlorite have been tested and found to be beneficial for treating inflammations caused by radiation therapy. This could be an attractive opportunity for market growth.
Sodium hypochlorite is a widely used household bleaching agent due to its high oxidizing strength. It is extensively used in cleaner formulations for clothes as well as surfaces. In water treatment applications sodium hypochlorite is commonly used as a biocide owing to its anti microbial characteristics and as a chlorinating agent. It is also employed for treating cyanide contamination of industrial wastewater. The water treatment chemicals industry is witnessing a rapid rise in demand due to regulatory pressure for better treatment of industrial as well as municipal waste water released into the water bodies. Growing awareness among the general public and the protests against the harmful effects, of industrial and municipal waste water contaminated with human wastes, on the environment has lead to strict regulations governing the release of treated wastewater. This, in turn, has supported the growth of waste water treatment chemicals including sodium hypochlorite.
In terms of geography, Asia Pacific is the dominant consumer of sodium hypochlorite riding on high sales of household bleaching products to its large population. Major industrial economies including China, India, Japan and South Korea are the major consumers of sodium hypochlorite for application in waste water treatment, household products, dental care and chemical industry. Two of the most populated countries, China and India are situated in Asia. Both these countries are growing rapidly and witnessing rising disposable income and purchase power parity of the general population. This is expected to fuel market growth of household products including bleach and detergents, which in turn is expected to fuel demand for sodium hypochlorite in the region. North America is another major consumer for sodium hypochlorite especially in the dental care and waste water treatment applications. In Rest of the World, Brazil, Argentina and South Africa contribute to major demand for the market. Europe is expected to witness comparatively slower growth than other regions due to its stringent regulations.
Some of the market players include AGC group, Sunbelt Chemical Corporations, Orica Watercare and Shanghai Polymet Commodities Ltd., among many others.
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