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Chemical Economics Handbook

Chelating Agents

Published : Dec 01, 2013

Chelating agents, also known as chelants, complexing, or sequestering agents, are compounds that are able to form stable complexes with metal ions. They achieve this by coordinating with metal ions at a minimum of two sites, thus solubilizing and inactivating the metal ions that would otherwise produce adverse effects in the system on which they are used.

Aminopolycarboxylates represent the most widely consumed chelating agents; the percentage of new readily biodegradable products in this category continues to grow. In 2013, new biodegradable chelating agents represented about 15% of total aminopolycarboxylate demand. By 2018, the percentage is expected to increase to about 21% as new products replace in particular EDTA, NTA and phosphates in detergent and cleaning formulations. The leading classical aminopolycarboxylates are EDTA and DTPA, which account for over 95% of total classical aminopolycarboxylate consumption.

The following pie chart shows world consumption of chelating agents:

chelating agents

The main applications for EDTA and DTPA are in cleaning compounds, pulp and paper, agriculture and water treatment. DTPA is particularly suitable in highly oxidative bleaching systems, hence its use in the pulp and paper industry. This industry has been impacted by both a regional shift in production and a technological shift away from traditional graphical grades to electronic media. Both shifts have had a significant effect on demand for DTPA in Europe and NAFTA over the last five years. HEDTA finds specific uses in agriculture and gas scrubbing, while minor amounts of PDTA are used in traditional photofinishing.

The consumption of NTA has continued to fall; on average the decline has been over 10% annually since 2009. This decline is expected to continue over the forecast period at a reduced rate of 4.8% per year because of continued concerns about toxicity and the requirement to label formulations that contain more than 5% NTA as an active ingredient with the R40 risk phrase (Category 3—limited evidence of a carcinogenic effect). While demand will remain in some applications, formulators are finding increasingly that NTA can be effectively replaced by new alternatives.

The major applications for hydroxycarboxylic acids are in concrete admixtures, industrial and institutional cleaning compounds, metal finishing and agriculture. Global consumption had been increasing rapidly until the onset of the economic crisis in 2008 and 2009, with demand in construction being particularly affected in the United States and Europe, but also in metal finishing with the slowdown in industrial and consumer goods. Demand is once again on the increase, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, China, and Central and South America, all showing above-average growth rates. Consumption of hydroxycarboxylates and organophosphonates is expected to increase annually at 2.9% and 3% per year, respectively, as traditional applications in growth regions and use as replacements for phosphates continue to push demand. Gluconates have an appeal as a more natural, biodegradable product and are benefiting from the move away from phosphates in detergent formulations.

This report investigates the applications and major markets for traditional chelating agents including aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts thereof, hydroxycarboxylic acids and salts thereof, and organophosphonates. In addition, particular attention is focused on the continued growth of more environmentally acceptable chelating agents that show enhanced biodegradability and are able to replace traditional aminopolycarboxylates such as EDTA and NTA, or to replace phosphate builders such as STPP in detergent formulations.

Table of Contents

Summary
Classical aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
Greener aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
Nitrilotriacetic acid and salts (NTA)
Hydroxycarboxylic acids and salts
Organophosphonates
Introduction
Major end-use markets
Cleaning compounds
Household cleaning products
Institutional and industrial (I&I) cleaning products
Water treatment
Pulp and paper
Agricultural applications
Photographic applications
Textile treatment
Food, cosmetics/toiletries and pharmaceuticals
Gas scrubbing/sweetening
Concrete admixtures
Metal finishing
Petroleum exploration and production
Rubber/polymer processing
Miscellaneous chemical processing
Aminopolycarboxylic acids
Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid and salts (EDTA)
Diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid and salts (DTPA)
Hydroxyethylethylenediaminetriacetic acid and salts (HEDTA)
Ethylenediaminedisuccinic acid and salts (EDDS)
Iminodisuccinic acid and salts (IDS)
Methylglycinediacetic acid and salts (MGDA)
Glutamic acid-N,N-diacetic acid and salts (GLDA)
Nitrilotriacetic acid and salts (NTA)
Hydroxycarboxylic acids—gluconic acid, glucoheptonic acid and salts
Organophosphonates
Manufacturing processes
Aminopolycarboxylic acids
Nitrilotriacetic acid
Hydroxycarboxylic acids
Organophosphonates
Environmental regulations and issues
REACH
Detergents regulation
Risk assessments
Taxation
Supply and demand by region
United States
Producing companies
Aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
Nitrilotriacetic acid and salts (NTA)
Hydroxycarboxylic acids and salts
Gluconic acid/sodium gluconate
Sodium glucoheptonate
Organophosphonates
Salient statistics
Aminopolycarboxylates
NTA
Hydroxycarboxylic acids and salts
Gluconic acids and salts
Glucoheptonic acids and salts
Organophosphonates
Consumption
Aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts (excluding NTA)
Nitrilotriacetic acid and salts
Hydroxycarboxylic acids and salts
Organophosphonates
Price
Aminopolycarboxylic acids
Hydroxycarboxylic acids
Organophosphonates
Trade
Classical aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
Imports
Exports
Greener aminopolycarboxylic acids
Nitrilotriacetic acid, sodium salt
Hydroxycarboxylic acids and salts
Organophosphonates
Imports
Exports
Canada
Production
Salient statistics
Aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
Nitrilotriacetic acid
Hydroxycarboxylic acids and salts
Organophosphonates
Mexico
Producing companies
Aminopolycarboxylic acids
Hydroxycarboxylic acids
Organophosphonates
Salient statistics
Consumption
Aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
Hydroxycarboxylic acids and salts
Organophosphonates
Trade
Aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
NTA
Hydroxycarboxylic acids, salts and esters
Organophosphonates
Central and South America
Producers
Aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
NTA
Hydroxycarboxylic acids
Organophosphonates
Salient statistics
Aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
NTA
Hydroxycarboxylic acids
Organophosphonates
Consumption
Aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
Hydroxycarboxylic acids
Organophosphonates
Price
Aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
Hydroxycarboxylic acids
Organophosphonates
Trade
Aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
Imports
Exports
Hydroxycarboxylic acids, salts and esters
Gluconates
Sodium glucoheptonate
Organophosphonates
Europe
Producing companies
Aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
Gluconic acid and salts
Glucoheptonic acid and salts
Organophosphonates
Salient statistics
Production
Aminopolycarboxylates
Gluconates and glucoheptonates
Organophosphonates
Consumption
Aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
EDTA
NTA
DTPA
HEDTA
MGDA
IDS
GLDA
EDDS
Other
Gluconic acid and salts
Glucoheptonic acid and salts
Organophosphonates
Price
Aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
Gluconates and glucoheptonates
Organophosphonates
Trade
Aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
Gluconic acid and salts
Organophosphonates
Middle East and Africa
Salient statistis
Production
Consumption
Aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
Gluconic acid and salts
Organophosphonates
Japan
Aminopolycarboxylic acids and salts
Producing companies
Production
Consumption
Hydroxycarboxylic acids and salts
Organophosphonates
Production
Consumption
Other
Price
Trade
China
Aminopolycarboxylic acids
Producing companies
Salient statistics
Consumption
Price
Trade
Gluconic acids and salts
Producing companies
Salient statistics
Trade
Sodium glucoheptonates
Organophosphonates
Other Asia and Oceania
Aminopolycarboxylic acids
Producing companies
Salient statistics
Consumption
Trade
Gluconic acids and salts
Producing companies
Salient statistics
Trade
Imports
Exports
Organophosphonates
Filter Sort