Sodium sulfite is an inorganic salt of sodium and sulfurous acid. It is a white crystalline solid soluble in water and most solvents. It is manufactured commercially through a reaction between a solution of sodium bicarbonate and sulfur dioxide. Sodium sulfite is also produced as a by-product of resorcinol manufacturing process. Sodium sulfite is toxic inorganic chemical due to its sulfur content and may cause irritation and/or burns to skin and eyes even fatal allergic reactions if inhaled. The chemical is considered hazardous because it releases toxic and irritating sulfur dioxide gas if burnt.
Sodium sulfite is primarily used in the paper and pulp industry as the basic ingredient in acid sulfite and semi-chemical pulping. It is used in industrial and municipal waste water treatment because of strict regulations requiring dechlorination of the waste water treatment process. It is also used as an oxygen scavenger in boilers for water treatment, flooding oil wells and drilling mud from oil wells to avoid fires. Sodium sulfite is also used as a preservative in foods and beverages including wine. The sodium fluoride market is driven by its demand in water treatment applications, oxygen scavenging applications and paper and pulp applications. However, rising awareness about the harmful effects of sulfur dioxide gas and hazardous nature of the chemical might hamper the market growth over the forecast period. Shale oil revolution is expected to bring prospective opportunities for future market growth of sodium sulfite as an oxygen scavenger during drilling activities.
Sodium sulfite is a widely used chemical due to its reactivity and versatile applications. It is extensively used as a preservative in controlled amount as it is poison to the bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms that might cause staling of foods and beverages. In the oil and mining industry it is extensively used as a agent for extraction and drilling of crude oil. In water treatment applications sodium sulfite is commonly used as an agent for dechlorination of industrial and municipal waste water in compliance with the stringent regulations laid down by regulatory bodies worldwide. 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 sulfite.
In terms of geography, Asia Pacific is the largest consumer of sodium sulfite in paper and pulp industry. Major industrial economies including China, India, Japan and South Korea are the major consumers of sodium sulfite for application in waste water treatment, paper and pulp 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. North America is another major consumer for sodium sulfite especially in the oil well drilling and waste water treatment applications. In Rest of the World, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and South Africa contribute to major demand for the market. Europe is expected to witness comparatively slower growth than other regions owing to stringent regulations against hazardous chemicals.
Some of the market players include Merck Millipore, Solvay, Calabrian, Indspec Chemical, Olympic Chemical, Orica Watercare and Southern Ionics, among many others.