The data that follows on ammonia shows, I believe, how substantial ammonia is as an important chemical. Ammonia is a raw material in many reactions leading to chemicals used in many applications throughout the economy. Developments related to ammonia and its uses have brought tremendous value to the chemical enterprise and to society.
Global annual ammonia consumption is in the 180 million metric ton range. About 80% of that amount is estimated to be used as a fertilizer with the rest in other uses, mostly as a raw material in making other chemicals. Ammonia is used as a raw material to make: ethylene amines; ethanol amine; acrylonitrile; caprolactam; urea; and ammonium nitrate. A recent United States (US) retail price for ammonia is in the $500 per metric ton range and a wholesale price of $300 per metric ton. These prices vary globally. Most ammonia is made using natural gas as a source of hydrogen and reacting hydrogen with nitrogen. Expected annual growth rates for ammonia use are in the 2 to 3 % range. What follows is more data on ammonia uses.
Ethylene amines. Approximately 10 million metric tons of ethylene amines are consumed globally each year. The most used method to make ethylene amines apparently is the reaction of ammonia with 1, 2-dichloroethane. Recent ethylene amine prices in the US are in the $1,800 per metric ton range. Ethylene amines are used for many purposes in such areas as: agriculture; cleaning; personal care; oil and gas production; and water treatment. Future growth consumption rates for ethylene amines are estimated to be in the 6 to 8% range.
Ethanol amine. Ethanol amine is usually made from the reaction of ammonia and ethylene oxide. Global consumption is estimated in the 2 million metric ton per year range. Prices vary globally with recent US prices in the $2,400 per metric ton range. Like for ethylene amines, ethanol amine has a good estimated future annual consumption rate increase annually. Ethanol amine has uses in such areas as: agriculture; surfactant technology; cement processing; chemical intermediates; and gas processing.
Acrylonitrile. Acrylonitrile is usually produced from the reaction of ammonia with propylene and oxygen. Global annual consumption is estimated to be in the 7 million metric ton range. A recent market price is in the $1,600 per metric ton range. Acrylonitrile is used to produce acrylic fibers and other polymers such as: acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene; styrene-acrylonitrile; and acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber (polymers that are used in several products). Estimated global consumption growth rate of acrylonitrile is in the 4% range.
Caprolactam. Caprolactam is usually made from the reaction of ammonia and cyclohexanone oxime. Recent prices for caprolactam are in the $1,800 per metric ton range. Recent global annual consumption is estimated to be in the 8 to 9 million metric ton range. Caprolactam is used mostly to make polyamide (nylon) 6 fibers. Estimated future global growth rates are in the 4 to 5% per year range.
Urea. Urea is made by reacting ammonia with carbon dioxide. Recent retail prices in the US are in the $350 per metric ton range and wholesale prices in the $250 per metric ton rate. Determinants influencing urea prices are many and therefore understanding and predicting urea prices are difficult. Prices globally for urea can vary considerably and change quickly. The primary use for urea is as nitrogen-providing fertilizer (estimated 80-85% of urea produced is used as a fertilizer). Other uses of urea include: reducing nitrogen oxides emissions and as an intermediate in producing urea-formaldehyde resins and melamine. Estimated future annual growth rates for urea use are in the 2 to 3% per year range, considerably less than the above identified chemicals made with ammonia as one of the starting raw materials. Global annual consumption of urea is estimated to be around 180 million metric tons.
Ammonia nitrate. Ammonia nitrate is made by reacting ammonia with nitric acid. Demand for ammonium nitrate as a fertilizer has been declining compared to other fertilizers. Approximately 65% of ammonia nitrate is used as a fertilizer and 35% in other applications. Ammonium nitrate as an explosive accounts for most of the other use. Current annual consumption of ammonia nitrate is estimated at about 30 million metric tons. Estimated annual growth rates are in the 2 to 3% range.
Ammonium refrigerant. Approximately 2% of ammonia produced is used as a refrigerant (about 3 to 4 million metric tons are used as a refrigerant). Industrial refrigeration systems are where most of this ammonia is used. Use of ammonia as a refrigerant is increasing because of its cost, relative environmentally friendliness, and other reasons.