Nitric Acid price February 2024 and outlook (see chart below)

  • North America:US$0.32/KG, -3% down
  • Europe:US$0.15/KG, unchanged
  • Northeast Asia:US$0.26/KG, -7.1% down
The chart below summarizes Nitric Acid price trend per region, as well as the outlook. It takes a moment to load.

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Nitric Acid price index

This post is a summary of the nitric acid price developments. The price developments of nitric acid are expressed in US$ prices converted FX rates applicable at the time when the price was valid. Nitric acid price index developments are calculated from multiple separate sources of data to ensure statistical accuracy.

The outlook for nitric acid prices, on the second tab, is generated from different inputs including:

  • Very recent price developments of immediate cost drivers of nitric acid prices
  • Recent price developments of underlying feedstocks which drive the price of nitric acid
  • Market futures for both cost drives and feedstocks of nitric acid prices
  • Adjustment of current supply/demand imbalances in the nitric acid market
  • Longer term trends in likely demand conditions

Further information on the Nitric Acid price chart

 

What is Nitric Acid

Nitric acid is a highly corrosive and toxic acid with the chemical formula HNO3. It is a colorless or yellowish liquid with a pungent odor and is commonly used in industrial and laboratory applications.

Nitric acid is produced by the reaction of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) with water, and the resulting acid is highly reactive and can oxidize many metals and organic compounds. It is a strong acid with a pH of around 1 and can dissolve many metals, including copper, silver, and gold.

Despite its many applications, nitric acid is highly corrosive and can be dangerous if not handled properly. It can cause severe burns and is toxic if ingested or inhaled. Proper safety precautions, including protective equipment and proper ventilation, should always be used when handling nitric acid.

 

How is Nitric Acid produced

Nitric acid is commonly produced by the Ostwald process, which involves three main stages:

Ammonia Oxidation

In the first stage, ammonia gas (NH3) is oxidized in the presence of a platinum/rhodium catalyst at high temperatures (around 850-900°C) and a pressure of 9-10 atmospheres to form nitrogen monoxide (NO) and water (H2O).

Nitrogen Dioxide Formation

The nitrogen monoxide produced in the first stage is further oxidized with oxygen in the presence of a platinum/rhodium catalyst at a temperature of around 450°C and a pressure of 1-2 atmospheres. This reaction produces nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Nitric Acid Formation

In the final stage, the nitrogen dioxide produced in the second stage is absorbed in water to form nitric acid (HNO3), which is then purified through distillation.

Overall, the Ostwald process is a highly exothermic reaction, meaning that it releases a significant amount of heat, and it is a major industrial method for producing nitric acid.

 

What drives the cost of Nitric Acid

The cost of nitric acid can be influenced by a number of factors, including:

Raw materials

The main raw materials for nitric acid production are ammonia and oxygen, both of which can be subject to price fluctuations depending on supply and demand. In addition, the price of platinum/rhodium catalysts used in the production process can also impact the cost of nitric acid.

Energy costs

The production of nitric acid requires large amounts of energy, both in the form of heat and electricity. Thus, the cost of energy can significantly impact the overall cost of nitric acid.

Labor costs

Nitric acid production can require significant amounts of labor, especially in the handling and transportation of raw materials and the operation and maintenance of the production equipment.

Environmental regulations

The production of nitric acid can produce nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are a potent greenhouse gas and air pollutant. Regulations aimed at limiting emissions of NOx can increase the cost of nitric acid production by requiring additional emissions control equipment or processes.

Overall, the cost of nitric acid can be impacted by a range of factors, including raw material costs, energy costs, labor costs, environmental regulations, and market demand.

 

What is Nitric Acid used for

Nitric acid has many industrial and laboratory applications, including:

Production of fertilizers

Nitric acid is used in the production of ammonium nitrate, a common fertilizer.

Production of explosives

Nitric acid is used in the production of explosives, such as TNT and nitroglycerin.

Metal etching

Nitric acid is used in metal etching to remove or modify the surface of metals.

Cleaning and pickling

Nitric acid is used in cleaning and pickling applications, where it can remove rust and scale from metals.

Laboratory reagent

Nitric acid is commonly used in the laboratory as a reagent for a wide range of chemical reactions.

What types of Nitric Acid are there

There are several different types of nitric acid, which are distinguished based on their concentration or purity level. Here are some of the most common types:

Concentrated nitric acid

This is the most common type of nitric acid and typically has a concentration of 68-70% (by weight). Concentrated nitric acid is highly corrosive and can react violently with many organic compounds.

Fuming nitric acid

This type of nitric acid has a higher concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) dissolved in it, which gives off reddish-brown fumes. Fuming nitric acid typically has a concentration of around 90% or higher and is used in the production of explosives and rocket fuels.

White fuming nitric acid

This is a highly purified form of fuming nitric acid, which has a concentration of around 98-100%. It is used in the semiconductor industry and for certain laboratory applications.

Dilute nitric acid

Dilute nitric acid has a lower concentration of nitric acid and is typically used for less corrosive applications, such as in the production of fertilizers or for cleaning metals.

Red fuming nitric acid

This type of nitric acid has a higher concentration of nitrogen dioxide than fuming nitric acid and can be more dangerous to handle. It is used in the production of certain high-performance rocket propellants.

The different types of nitric acid can have varying properties and uses depending on their concentration and purity level.

 

What are the unique  properties of Nitric Acid

Nitric acid (HNO3) is a strong and highly corrosive acid that is widely used in industry for a variety of purposes. Some of the unique properties of nitric acid that make it suitable for industrial use include:

Strong oxidizing properties

Nitric acid is a powerful oxidizing agent and can react with many substances, making it useful for a variety of industrial processes. For example, it is used in the production of fertilizers, dyes, and explosives.

High solubility

Nitric acid is highly soluble in water, which makes it easy to handle and transport. This property also makes it a useful component in chemical reactions that require a high degree of solubility.

Low boiling point

Nitric acid has a relatively low boiling point, which makes it easy to evaporate and concentrate. This property is particularly useful in the production of concentrated nitric acid, which is used in many industrial processes.

Corrosive nature

Nitric acid is highly corrosive, which means it can dissolve a variety of materials. This property is particularly useful in metal finishing, where nitric acid is used to clean and etch metal surfaces.

Strong acidic properties

Nitric acid is a strong acid and can react with many substances, including metals and organic compounds. This property makes it useful in many industrial processes, including the production of nylon and other synthetic fibers.

Overall, the unique properties of nitric acid make it a versatile and valuable chemical for many industrial applications. However, its corrosive and potentially dangerous nature also requires careful handling and safety precautions.

 

Which industries is Nitric Acid used in

Nitric acid is used in a wide range of industries, including:

Agriculture

Nitric acid is a key component in the production of ammonium nitrate fertilizers, which are used to improve crop yields.

Pharmaceuticals

Nitric acid is used in the production of several pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, analgesics, and antipyretics.

Explosives

Nitric acid is used in the production of explosives such as dynamite and nitroglycerin.

Mining

Nitric acid is used in the extraction and refining of metals such as copper, gold, and silver.

Chemicals

Nitric acid is used in the production of several other chemicals, including adipic acid, which is used in the production of nylon.

Aerospace

Nitric acid is used in the aerospace industry

 

How big is the global market for Nitric Acid

The global nitric acid market size was valued at approximately USD 20 billion in 2020, and it is expected to reach USD 25 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of around 4% during the forecast period. Nitric acid is used in a wide range of industries, including agriculture, pharmaceuticals, mining, and explosives, among others.

The agriculture sector is the largest consumer of nitric acid, accounting for approximately 80% of the global demand. Nitric acid is used in the production of ammonium nitrate fertilizers, which are widely used to improve crop yields. The increasing demand for food and the need for sustainable agriculture practices are expected to drive the growth of the nitric acid market in the coming years.

The pharmaceuticals and explosives industries are also significant consumers of nitric acid. Nitric acid is used in the production of several pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, analgesics, and antipyretics. It is also used in the production of explosives such as dynamite and nitroglycerin.

The Asia-Pacific region is the largest market for nitric acid, accounting for a significant share of the global demand. The growing population and increasing demand for food in countries such as China and India are expected to drive the growth of the nitric acid market in this region.

According to https://oec.world/ :

Nitric acid, sulphonitric acids are the world’s 3265th most traded product.

In 2020, the top exporters of Nitric acid, sulphonitric acids were South Korea ($76.9M), Belgium ($41.5M), Germany ($29.4M), Netherlands ($11.7M), and France ($10.5M).

In 2020, the top importers of Nitric acid, sulphonitric acids were Germany ($21.7M), China ($19.8M), Belgium ($19.5M), Japan ($18.3M), and Malaysia ($18.1M).

 

Which countries produce the most Nitric Acid

According to the data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in 2021, the top five countries in terms of nitric acid production are:

  1. China – 17.5 million metric tons
  2. United States – 8.0 million metric tons
  3. India – 4.6 million metric tons
  4. Russia – 3.6 million metric tons
  5. Belgium – 3.1 million metric tons

These five countries account for over 50% of the world’s total nitric acid production. Other notable producers of nitric acid include Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil.

The production of nitric acid is closely tied to the production of fertilizers and explosives, as well as other industrial uses such as cleaning and etching metals, so the countries that have a high demand for these products tend to be the largest producers of nitric acid.

 

Further information

 

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