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Published: March 2011
Calcium carbide is an inorganic compound with the following primary commercial applications: generation of acetylene, production of calcium cyanamide (a nitrogen fertilizer), and use in the iron (foundry) and steel industries as a desulfurization reagent in the production of ductile iron and steel and as a slag modifier/conditioner (reducer) in steel production. In the United States, Japan, and China, the largest end use is the production of acetylene, both for cutting and welding and for chemicals. In Europe, metallurgical use, calcium cyanamide and acetylene each share roughly one-third of the market for calcium carbide.
China is the dominant player in the calcium carbide market, representing nearly 90–95% of total supply and consumption. Because of its large reserves and recent capacity rationalizations, China is also the world's largest exporter of calcium carbide. Primary importers include countries in Other Asia, the Middle East and Oceania.
The largest end use for calcium carbide is in the production of acetylene, amounting to 90–95% of total consumption in the major regions. China's sizable share of the global calcium carbide market is linked to the country's strong economic growth, large coal reserves and ever-increasing acetylene demand for PVC. The calcium carbide–to–PVC process, considered an antiquated process in developed parts of the world, represents 94–97% of China's total PVC production.
The following pie chart shows consumption of calcium carbide by major region:
U.S. consumption growth for calcium carbide during 2010–2015 should average 1–2% annually overall. Demand for acetylene in chemical applications, metallurgical uses and industrial acetylene will show small increases.
Overall consumption of calcium carbide in Western Europe is expected to increase at an average rate of approximately 1% annually during 2010–2015.
During 2010–2015, consumption of calcium carbide in Japan will increase slightly from current levels, showing the greatest increase in industrial acetylene use and marginal increases in calcium cyanamide and desulfurization reagents over the next five years.
As a result of continued development, China is projected to experience 8–10% per year growth in consumption of calcium carbide for acetylene to 2015. Other expanding markets include India, Africa and the CIS.