Perspectives and Forecast Future Salt Demand in Soda Ash Part 1 – Overview
Soda ash is a global industry of over 60 million mt; with a key role in numerous industrial sectors such as glass and chemicals, as well as consumer products such as detergents. Soda ash is also a key raw material to produce lithium carbonate, photovoltaic glass, and glass fibers, all of which play an important role in the energy conversion towards net-zero carbon.
In most cases, the Solvay process, or a modified Solvay process are used to produce synthetic soda ash from limestone and salt. Currently almost 70 million tons of salt are used per year to produce synthetic soda ash, which makes soda ash the second largest end use for salt after chlor-alkali. In the 1950’s production of natural soda ash started in the US, and became important because of its much lower cost of production. After 2007, natural soda ash production also began in Turkey, and capacities grew rapidly. Smaller scale production of natural soda ash is taking place in China, and in Africa. Current global production capacities are in the order of 72 million tons. About two thirds are synthetic soda ash plants.
Future demand of salt in the production of soda ash depends on two main factors to be discussed in upcoming blog posts:
Part 2: How is the market of soda ash developing, especially in its main end uses glass and detergents?
Part 3: Will capacity be preferably added in the form of synthetic soda ash plants, or is natural soda ash the preferred future plant type?