The ammonium nitrate market is projected to achieve exponential growth on account of its usage as a fertilizer in crop production. The global fertilizer demand is expected to be 200 million tons by 2019. This provides the market a wide scope to expand its operations and consumer base. Alternatives like bio-based chemicals can hamper market growth during the forecast period (2015-2022).
Ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) is a chemical compound composed of ammonia and nitrogen. It is an organic fertilizer, rich in nitrogen content. It is used in explosives, cold packs, and as a hydrating agent. At normal temperature, it takes the form of a white crystalline solid. It is found in copious amounts in dry regions, most notably the Atacama Desert, Chile.
NH4NO3 is produced when ammonia gas reacts with nitric acid. The granular version (prills) is obtained by spraying the solution into small granules in a rotating drum. High density prills of the compound are used in fertilizers, while low prills are used in explosives for a volatile reaction. It is mostly stored in air-tight warehouses or sealed bags on account of its dynamic nature. It can cause ignition of combustible materials like paper, wood, and oil.
Processes used to manufacture the compound are the Odda process and Haber process. It uses the combination of hydrogen and nitrogen to produce ammonia.
Ammonium nitrate is renowned to improve the soil richness, as it mixes easily with the soil. It has fewer losses when compared to urea-based fertilizers and a prime choice for hay fertilization. The ability to absorb moisture when stored for a longer duration is a hurdle for the ammonium nitrate market. But a foliar spray solution which enables the leaves to absorb essential nutrients is expected to increase market demand over the forecast period. In areas of high rainfall, it may be washed into the soil and contaminate the groundwater.
NH4NO3 is deemed hazardous to health and appears in many safety guidelines prepared by agencies like Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA). It lowers the moisture amount and increases the relative humidity of the region. Symptoms of inhaling the compound are dizziness, vomiting, nausea, headaches, hypertension, and gastric irritation. Long-term effects include mental impairment, depression, reflex tachycardia, and nephritis.
Instant cold packs containing ammonium nitrate are used to treat first aid injuries in sports. This can be attributed to the compound’s ability to absorb heat and alleviate pain. Explosives manufactured using ammonium nitrates are used in mining and quarry applications. Other applications include construction, coal mining, and metal mining. Its prime use in explosives is on account of water resistance and high detonation velocity.
Ammonium nitrate is an essential component in ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO) used in more than 70% of explosives in North America. But the market will face a blow regarding its use in explosives. These were used in terrorist attacks like the Paroisse Warehouse in France and World Trade Center in USA. This has led to companies specifying their ammonium nitrate usage and getting certified by their respective organizations. Ammonium nitrate may lose its share to urea fertilizers on account of its affordable rates. Further, it is far more stable and retains its nitrogen content even after being exposed. Licenses are awarded to industry participants that guarantee its use and secure it with appropriate measures. Fertilizer plant explosions which occurred in Texas in 2013 may serve as a deterrent to future uses of ammonium nitrate in explosives.
Asia Pacific is expected to gain market share on account of consumer awareness of the chemical. This is especially true in the economies of Thailand, Vietnam, China, and India. The Government of India has implemented policies aimed at increasing production. They intend to make it easy for farmers to obtain seeds and fertilizers with microloans, introduce soil health cards and new crop production techniques. All this is expected to improve the per hectare yield of farmers with the implementation of National Agriculture Policy from May 2015. Agricultural policies which lead to demand for ammonium nitrate, and increase agricultural productivity will positively affect the market.
Australia has banned fertilizers containing more than the allowed proportion (45%) of ammonium nitrate. The Government of China has unveiled a new policy to invest in constructing houses, railways, roads, and offices. This is predicted to create opportunities for the regional market. Europe had the largest demand amounting to approximately 44% overall demand. Countries such as Ukraine, Russia, Poland, and the US together accounted for more than 50% of the global ammonium nitrate production. Western Europe will decrease their volume production on account of the change in the agricultural policy. North America, on the other hand, accounted for 20% global market demand in 2013. Mining industries in South Africa have a high demand on account of its low cost and high stability.
Prominent players of the ammonium nitrate market include Orica, SC Con-cern Stirol, EuroChem, San Corporation, Enaex S.A, Austin Powder International, Abu Qir Fertilizers Co, CF Industries Holdings, Inc, Fertiberia SA, Vale Fertili-zantes, Neochim PLC, Uralchem OJSC, and Dorogobuzh JSC. Orica, an ammonium nitrate supplier has reduced its estimated market value on account of their declining revenue and fewer mining opportunities. Austin Powder International, a company based in Argentina, aims to produce 85,000 tons on a yearly basis. It aims to follow through the plan with an investment of USD 135 million over 10 years.
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