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Food & agriculture - Mar 26

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Sulfuric acid is suddenly scarce and expensive

Gordon Graff -- Purchasing
Increased demand for biofuels like ethanol tighten supply of sulfuric acid for chemical buyers.
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Vigorous demand, a static supply and declining imports have combined to drive up U.S. sulfuric acid prices for much of this year. And market watchers say these conditions are likely to continue for at least another year.

Not only is sulfuric acid supply tight, but there is a scarcity of railcars to deliver the chemical, prompting concern among some buyers.

Agriculture and metals processing are the two hottest markets for sulfuric acid right now. Roughly 60% of sulfuric acid produced goes into agriculture, primarily in the manufacture of phosphate fertilizers. The biofuels boom, particularly the proliferation of ethanol plants, is having a "double effect" on the demand for sulfuric acid, says Paul Bacon, business director at Rhodia Eco Services, a French sulfuric acid producer. First, he notes, there is the need for more fertilizer to grow corn, which is the ultimate source of most fermentation ethanol. In addition, he says that ethanol plants consume sulfuric acid in their own processing operations. In fact, each new ethanol plant requires anywhere from 2,000-4,000 tons of sulfuric each year, according to Marsulex, a Toronto-based sulfuric acid producer.

Outside the U.S., there is a swelling demand for agricultural fertilizers in China and India.
(13 September 2008)
Update (March 26, 2008) from Purchasing: Sulfuric acid prices explode.

Suggested by totoneila at The Oil Drum.


pig slurry

Fermanagh Herald (Northern Ireland)
'NI fertilizer shortage', 'Rising fertilizer prices' - just two of the many headlines that have appeared recently in the local farming press.

Anyone who has bought chemical fertilizer recently knows only too well the reality of the headlines - the cost of fertilizer has increased by over £100/tonne. Phosphate prices have trebled over the past 12 months with the price of Potash following a similar trend.

Edward Carson and his son James farm 325 hectares at Tyrella on the outskirts of Downpatrick.

They run a mixed pig, beef, sheep and cereal farm. Edward is fully aware of the rising price of fertilizer and the impact this will have on his business.

He is in the fortunate position of not having to buy in any Phosphate and the amount of bagged Nitrogen and Potash his farm needs is greatly reduced.

Why? Because he uses pig slurry.
(26 March 2008)
The Shape of Things to Come. -BA


British seas turning green, says watchdog

Severin Carrell, Guardian
· UK fleets rise to meet ecological standards
· Greenpeace says flaws in labelling scheme remain

Britain's fishing industry is in line to become one of the greenest in the world, with a record number of fleets to be awarded coveted "eco-labels" for their catches of haddock, dover sole, herring and prawns.

The Marine Stewardship Council, which oversees the best-known environmental scheme for fisheries, said several of the UK's largest fleets were on course to join its labelling scheme, proving their environmental credentials .
(26 March 2008)

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