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The global anhydrous hydrogen fluoride market size was valued at USD 2.40 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow from USD 2.55 billion in 2022 to USD 3.60 billion by 2029, exhibiting a CAGR of 5.1% during the forecast period. The global COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented and staggering, with Anhydrous Hydrogen Fluoride (AHF) experiencing lower-than-anticipated demand across all regions compared to pre-pandemic levels. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited a decline of 0.7% in 2020 as compared to 2019.
In general appearance, hydrogen fluoride is a colorless gas and possesses a strong odor. AHF is produced by the reaction of concentrated sulfuric acid with the acid-grade mineral fluorite or fluorspar. It is majorly used as a building block material in manufacturing fluorine and fluorine chemicals. It is also considerably adopted in metal extraction, manufacturing, and processing. As fluorochemicals and metals are extensively used in almost all end-use industries, the demand for AHF is expected to increase in the near future.
Declined Fluorochemicals Production during COVID-19 Negatively Impacted Market Growth
Post declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, the chemical manufacturing industries faced challenges in terms of supply chains, manpower, and utilities. Lockdown in major fluorochemicals producing countries, such as China, India, and the U.S., led to lesser production. As production and end-use demand for fluorochemicals declined, the consumption of anhydrous hydrogen fluoride also went down. The automotive industry is one of the leading consumers of fluoropolymers. The COVID-19 impact on global automotive production was severe, which also negatively affected the growth of fluoropolymers and, consecutively, the AHF market. However, in the post-second quarter of 2021, industrial operations, including chemical manufacturing, resumed slowly. This revamp in production slowly recovered the demand for hydrogen fluoride products. With mitigation strategies and government support, the fluorochemicals sector and the hydrogen fluoride industry are projected to recover slowly in the coming years.
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Critical Use of AHF during Aluminum Production to Provide Growth Opportunities in the Market
Hydrogen fluoride is a critical raw material used in several stages of aluminum metal processing and production. Aluminum is widely used in manufacturing automobiles, and its use is expected to continue to increase owing to its rising adoption in the electric vehicle industry.
The automobile sector has undergone a paradigm shift over the past few years by embracing the electrification wave. Major automakers are investing heavily in developing a new class of high-performance electric vehicles. Maintaining a high power-to-weight ratio is one of the current electric vehicle industry's major challenges. This issue is dealt with by using lighter building materials such as aluminum.
Lighter electric vehicles are essential in offsetting the heavy battery weight and increasing the vehicle's driving range. Aluminum also offers a high strength-to-weight ratio, an essential property for developing safe and light vehicles.
Governments across the globe promote the adoption of electric vehicles by implementing supporting policies and providing subsidies. Demand for the aluminum metal used for automobile manufacturing is expected to increase significantly during the forecast period. Since hydrogen fluoride is essential to extracting and processing aluminum, the market is likely to benefit and encounter new growth opportunities.
Rising Demand for Consumer Good Materials Produced by AHF to Drive Market Growth
Anhydrous hydrogen fluoride is a primary building block used to produce several fluorine-containing chemicals. This factor majorly includes the production of fluorine and other fluorine-containing products such as fluoropolymers, fluorochemicals, and surfactants, among others. These chemicals are used in several modern-day applications, ranging from household utensils to automobiles and telecommunications. For example, Teflon, one of the most popular fluoropolymers owing to its high chemical resistance, high thermal stability, and good electrical properties, is widely used in several applications. This includes common household cookware, electrical appliances, automotive, semiconductors, and fabrics, among others.
As economies across the world expand, individuals' standards of living and purchasing power are expected to rise simultaneously. A major portion of the growing population in developing economies, such as China and India, is witnessing improvement in their purchasing ability, with a rising preference to adopt new products such as Teflon-containing utensils and personal care products. AHF is a key ingredient used to produce all these materials and products.
In addition, AHF is also used in producing herbicides, high octane gasoline, pharmaceuticals, refrigerants, aluminum, plastic products, electrical components, and fluorescent light bulbs. Since chemicals produced using hydrogen fluoride are widely used in several consumer products, rising demand for these consumer products is anticipated to benefit and drive the anhydrous hydrogen fluoride market growth.
Strict Regulation on Use of AHF to Challenge Market Growth
A majority of industrial and commercial products consume hydrogen fluoride as basic raw material. Among these, the production of fluorocarbons accounts for a significant share of global hydrogen fluoride consumption. According to Eurofluor, more than 60% of hydrogen fluoride produced across the globe is used for producing fluorocarbons.
Fluorocarbons are chemically stable, and they resist reacting with any other material. This factor makes them ideal for refrigerants, lubricants, sealants, nonstick coatings, and foam-blowing agents. Once they are used in air conditioners and other products, they persist even after the end of the equipment’s service life due to the high durability of fluorocarbons. Once these fluorocarbons leak into the environment, their slower decay rate creates environmental challenges. Thus, a few fluorocarbons are therefore categorized as persistent organic pollutants. These commercially used fluorocarbons also contain halides, such as chlorine or bromine, which pose an additional threat to the environment.
To protect the environment and ozone layer from depletion, a few of these fluorocarbons have been banned under the Montreal Protocol. International organizations and governments across the globe are making a collaborative effort to phase out these hazardous chemicals. Thus, to fulfill the stringent standards, companies are choosing alternatives to some of these fluorocarbon chemicals, reducing the use of raw materials. Periodic phasing out of hazardous chemicals produced using anhydrous hydrogen fluoride is likely to impact its demand, limiting the market growth negatively.
<99.90% Segment to Account for Major Share Due to High Demand from Chemical Manufacturing
Based on product type, the market is segmented into <99.90% and >99.90%. Among these, the <99.90% segment dominated the market due to higher demand for chemical, metal, and metallurgical applications. All these applications together held more than 90% share of the total consumption. Thus, the segment is expected to continue its dominance in the near future. The >99.90% segment is a higher purity grade and is used for specialty applications such as pharmaceuticals, electronics, solar cells, and others. With favorable growth of these applications, this segment is projected to indicate significant growth during the forecast period.
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Chemical Segment to Hold Highest Revenue Share Owing to Wide Fluorochemical Applications
Most of the fluorine-containing chemicals consume anhydrous hydrogen fluoride as a raw material. The major chemicals produced using hydrogen fluoride can be broadly classified as refrigerants, pharmaceuticals, herbicides, and plastics, among others. Fluorochemicals account for a significant share of the total chemicals produced using hydrogen fluoride. These chemicals are widely used as cooling agents in refrigerators and air conditioners. The strong carbon-fluorine bond makes fluorochemicals highly resistant to degradation. Owing to high chemical stability, they remain in the environment for a long time without degradation. The addition of chlorine makes these fluorochemicals highly reactive and leads to the deterioration of the ozone layer. For this reason, the use of chlorofluorocarbons, one of the highly potent chemicals, has been discontinued.
Hydrogen fluoride and its salts are used in different stages of metal processing. This factor includes the manufacturing of different metals such as aluminum, stainless steel, and foundries. Hydrogen fluoride is used in the metal extraction process to separate metals from mineral ores. For example, niobium and tantalum used in electronics are purified using hydrogen fluoride. Aluminum fluoride serves as a melting point reducer in aluminum manufacturing, leading to significant energy. Sodium aluminum fluoride is also used as an electrolyte.
In addition, fluorine is also used in metal surface treatment. Hydrofluoric acid and nitric acid are used to remove unwanted oxides and other impurities during stainless steel manufacturing. Other metallurgical-related applications include fluxing agents and protective materials, among others.
Asia Pacific Anhydrous Hydrogen Fluoride Market Size, 2021 (USD Billion)
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The anhydrous hydrogen fluoride market size in Asia Pacific was USD 1.22 billion in 2021. The chemical & metal industry in the Asia Pacific region is amongst the fastest growing industries. China and India, in particular, have witnessed significant growth in fluorochemicals production. The chemical manufacturing industry within these countries has easy accessibility to massive amounts of raw materials such as fluorite ore. In addition, China, Japan, South Korea, and India are considered the world’s manufacturing hub for consumer electronic goods such as refrigerators and air conditioning products. These countries have a strong supply chain, which provides a competitive advantage over other consumer electronics manufacturing countries. Rising demand for such types of consumer goods is likely to increase demand for refrigerants used in such equipment and drive market growth.
The U.S. is amongst the top chemical producers in the world, accounting for approximately 25% of the country’s GDP. The country has a strong global presence along with high domestic demand. Among these chemicals, fluorochemicals are considered a prominent chemical compound group that is used in various applications such as elastomers, coatings, agrochemicals, steel, refrigeration, polymers, solar, pharmaceuticals, glass, nuclear, electronics, aluminum, and water purification, among others.
Rising demand for anhydrous hydrogen fluoride in metal extraction and metallurgical operations is driving market growth in Europe. The flourishing automotive industry in the region is pushing demand for aluminum, steel, and other metals. This factor is expected to create potential growth opportunities for AHF in Europe. Also, Europe’s pharmaceutical sector is a major contributor to the EU economy. Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, and the U.K. are among the major pharmaceutical-producing countries across the globe. A prominent share of pharmaceutical drugs contains fluorine, typically sourced from hydrogen fluoride.
In Latin America, countries, such as Brazil and Mexico, have significant calcium difluoride ores. These fluorite ores are critical raw materials in the production of hydrogen fluoride. Hydrogen fluoride is also a critical raw material used in several stages of aluminum metal processing and production. Aluminum is widely used in manufacturing automobiles owing to its light weight and strength. Thus, the growing demand for aluminum is driving the market's growth in the region.
South African countries have significant fluorite deposits. The fluorspar mined within the country is primarily exported to Europe for the production of hydrogen fluoride and its beneficiation along with aluminum fluoride. The rising demand for hydrogen fluoride across different end-use industries is expected to create new opportunities for the region's mining industry. Anhydrous hydrogen fluoride is a key ingredient for producing different non-organic and organic chemicals that contain fluorine elements. Aluminum fluoride (AlF3) is used in the production of aluminum. It is also used in processing uranium in nuclear power stations.
Major Companies Focus on Expansion of Production Facilities to Boost Sales Revenue
In terms of production, the market is consolidated in Asia, Europe, and North America. Due to the maximum presence of small & medium scaled manufacturers, China holds the largest share of anhydrous hydrogen fluoride production. Bigger companies, such as Solvay and Arkema, are focusing on establishing strong supply chains through mergers, acquisitions, or partnering with local distributors. Competitors are also building resilient supply chains to meet the demand from end-use industries.
An Infographic Representation of Anhydrous Hydrogen Fluoride (AHF) Market
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The market report provides qualitative and quantitative insights on the anhydrous hydrogen fluoride market share, growth rate, size, and regional analysis by different segments. The research report also offers an elaborative analysis of the market dynamics and competitive landscape. Key insights such as Porter’s five forces, recent industry developments, and the regulatory scenario are also covered as part of the scope of the study.
Value (USD Billion), Volume (Kilo Tons)
By Product Type, Application, and Geography
By Product Type
Fortune Business Insights says that the market was valued at USD 2.40 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 3.60 billion by 2029.
Growing at a CAGR of 5.1%, the market will exhibit considerable growth over the forecast period.
The <99.90% segment dominated the market in 2021.
The chemical application segment is expected to lead this market during the forecast period.
Increasing consumption from fluorochemical industries shall drive the growth of the market.
Asia Pacific currently holds the highest market share in terms of market revenue.
The rising demand for hydrogen fluoride for steel pickling is the key trend in the market.
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