Hydrofluoric acid, also referred to as hydrogen fluoride (HF), is a weak acid and a highly toxic and corrosive substance. It is manufactured through two processes: Fluorspar and Fluorosilicic acid. More than 90% of the hydrogen fluoride is produced using fluorspar whereas fluorosilicic acid based hydrogen fluoride accounts for a relatively smaller share (~5-8%).
Hydrofluoric acid is majorly used as an intermediate or starting material for the manufacturing of a number of a fluorochemicals used as refrigerants and air conditioning agents. It can be used in the anhydrous form -- anhydrous hydrofluoric acid (AHF) -- or in the dilute form -- aqueous hydrofluoric acid. The dilution ratio can vary as per the requirements. Two most popularly used aqueous grades – 40%-50% and 70%-80% -- are used across a number of applications. Sales revenue of Hydrofluoric Acid is expected to be approximately 4,313.2 Mn in 2018.
Factors Influencing Global Hydrofluoric Acid Market Growth
Hydrofluoric Acid is used as an intermediate or starting material for the production of a number of fluorochemicals. It is widely used as a raw material and fluorine source for the manufacturing of fluorocarbons, such as HCFCs, HFCs and HFOs, used in air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. However, the use of such chemicals has been stringently regulated by government and environmental protection organisations, such as US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Fluoropolymers, such as PTFE, are increasingly being manufactured from hydrofluoric acid. That apart, growing use of hydrofluoric acid in cable wires, cookwares and other applications is projected to create traction in the Hydrofluoric Acid market long run.
Hydrofluoric acid is also used in the manufacturing of aluminium fluoride, which is predominantly used as a raw material for the manufacturing of aluminium. An increase in the use of aluminium across major end-use industries, such as automotive, packaging and others, has been noticed over the past few years, which will lead to the growth of hydrofluoric acid market.
Hydrofluoric acid is also used in steel pickling and metal treatment to remove layers and stains from a surface and give it shine and finish. Other industries, such as glass etching, uranium fuel production, petroleum catalyst, pharmaceuticals, herbicides and other niche applications, are also projected to drive the demand for hydrofluoric acid in the coming decade.
However, the global Hydrofluoric Acid Market is projected to face numerous challenges. For starters, fluorspar -- the raw material majorly used for hydrofluoric acid production -- is unevenly distributed, with more than 50% of the reserves located in China. To benefit the local manufacturers, China has restricted the export of fluorspar to the other regions, thereby creating a significantly negative impact on the profitability and margins of manufacturers.
Thus, the manufacturers are entering into long-term supply agreements with raw material suppliers and are also investing in the development of other novel technologies that do not require fluorspar for the production of hydrofluoric acid.Ho
Global Hydrofluoric Acid Market Segmentation and Forecast
The Global Hydrofluoric Acid Market is segmented on the basis of grade, application and region. On the basis of grade, the Global Hydrofluoric Acid Market is segmented into anhydrous and aqueous. On the basis of application, the Global Hydrofluoric Acid Market can be segmented into fluorochemicals, steel pickling/metal treatment, petroleum catalyst, glass etching, electronics and semiconductors and others. On the basis of region, the Global Hydrofluoric Acid Market can be segmented into North America, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, SEA and Pacific, China, India, Japan and MEA.
Global Hydrofluoric Acid Market Analysis, by Grade
On the basis of grade, the Global Hydrofluoric Acid Market is dominated by the anhydrous grade, which is majorly being used for the manufacturing of fluorochemicals, which account for more than 60% of the overall demand for hydrofluoric acid. The aqueous grade or the dilute form of hydrofluoric acid is used for applications, such as steel pickling and metal processing, rust removing and other such applications, which account for a relatively small share.
Global Hydrofluoric Acid Market Analysis, by Application
The use of hydrofluoric acid as an intermediate for the manufacturing of fluorochemicals is the largest application segment accounting for a share of ~65% in the overall demand. Other applications, such as metal processing, steel pickling, metal surface treatment, amongst others, are projected to expand significantly over the forecast period. Hydrofluoric acid is also being widely used in the glass etching process to provide finish and shine to the glass surface and to improve the fuel efficiency in the alkylation process in the petrochemical industry.
Global Hydrofluoric Acid Market Analysis, by Region
From a regional perspective, China is projected to lead the Global Hydrofluoric Acid Market, both in terms of production and consumption of hydrofluoric acid. The country has an added advantage of ease of raw material procurement and hence, the manufacturers are able to offer their products at relatively cheaper prices. The growth in end-use industries and increase in demand for fluorochemicals from the refrigeration and air conditioning system segments is projected to create significant opportunities in the market. India is also projected to expand at a relatively higher growth rate over the forecast period. Western Europe is considered as a relatively mature market and will witness sluggish growth owing to the stringent regulations regarding the use of fluorochemicals. North America imports a majority of the raw material, fluorspar, from Mexico and is expected to witness moderate growth rate. Latin America and MEA are projected to hold significant share in terms of production in the Global Hydrofluoric Acid Market. However, the consumption of hydrofluoric acid is projected to exhibit low volume and high growth.
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