Sulfur Chemicals, Miscellaneous
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Published: April 2010
This report presents information on six miscellaneous sulfur chemicals—sulfur dioxide, sodium hydrosulfide, sodium hydrosulfite, sodium sulfide, sodium sulfite and sodium thiosulfate. Sodium sulfites include sodium sulfite liquid and dry, and sodium bisulfite solution and its dry counterpart sodium metabisulfite. These chemicals are mainly used as reducing and bleaching agents in the pulp and paper and textile industries, as well as in the photographic and food industries, and as precipitating and reducing agents in the treatment of water. A seventh chemistry, sodium formaldehyde sulfoxylate, is selectively discussed.
The following pie charts show world consumption of miscellaneous sulfur chemicals by type and region.
Changes in the pulp and paper industry have been ongoing for some time, but the global economic crisis has forced companies to accelerate adjustments. During 2008 and 2009, the pulp and paper industry announced cuts to production capacity, machinery shutdowns, mill closures and layoffs. Existing production capacity in North America and Europe was greatly reduced, while other regions, such as Central and South America (Brazil) and Southeast Asia (China) grew. In emerging economies, paper consumption is forecast to grow at 5% annually for at least the next five years.
Production of food is growing globally and the consumption of sulfur chemicals for the preservation of food is growing at a similar rate. Growth is strongest in regions of increasing food production as a result of population growth, with major growth regions being Central and South America, Africa and Southeast Asia, but also China, where increasing wealth is increasing the demand for processed food.
Globally, production of textiles and the associated dyeing has been shifting to Asia, in particular China and India. Production in the United States and Western Europe has been declining. Correspondingly, consumption of sodium hydrosulfite in dyeing using indigo and other vat dyes has moved to China and India, and has decreased in the United States and Western Europe. Use of sodium hydrosulfide and sodium sulfide in the production of sulfur dyes has moved to China and India, as has the use of sulfur dyes in the dyeing of cellulosic fibers. Use of sodium hydrosulfide and sodium sulfide is being negatively impacted globally by more eco-friendly formulations, in particular glucose.
In the field of kaolin leaching, mainly in paper-grade kaolin where sodium hydrosulfite is used, regional distribution of production capacities is changing dramatically. Accordingly, consumption of sodium hydrosulfite in this segment is regionally shifting. Consumption is increasing in Brazil. Imerys shifted its supply emphasis of coating grades from the United Kingdom to Brazil by the end of 2007. Globally, production and consumption of paper-grade kaolin is expected to increase with increasing paper production and an increasing trend toward higher brightness papers. Accordingly, consumption of sodium hydrosulfite in the segment is expected to increase globally, with strongest growth expected to happen in Brazil.
Consumption of sulfur chemicals in photographic applications has decreased globally with the switch to digital photography. This trend is expected to continue during the forecast period.