Aluminium Hydroxide (AH) Production Exceeds Consumption in Europe13 Feb 2015 • by Natalie Aster
Aluminium hydroxide (AH; chemical formula: Al(OH)3) is used in various fields, including production of aluminium compounds, cosmetics, medicine, glass and ceramics industry, water purification, textiles, dye industry, flame retardation, construction, to name only a few. AH application versatility is determined by its various useful properties, like insolubility, flame resistance or ability to neutralize acids. Bauxite-derived alumina and caustic soda (NaOH) are main components to manufacture AH.
The European AH market is cyclical with regular slumps and spikes in production and consumption. The European market for AH is worth over one billion euros. According to Eurostat, the AH production in the EU-27 countries exceeded 1.8 mln tons in 2013. Major AH-manufacturing countries in Europe were Germany and Spain, which accounted for 75.5% and 9.4% of the European AH output, respectively. In 2013, the AH consumption in the EU market fell short of the output and totaled 1.61 mln tons, with major consumers being Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
With production exceeding consumption, the AH trade balance in the EU countries tilts towards export, which topped 370 thousand tons and accounted for over 20% of the production volume in 2013. Import is small and accounts for about 9% of the consumption volume. AH consumption trends are hard to predict. For example, the use of AH in vaccines (AH acts as adjuvant, stimulating the immune response to the vaccine) is currently scrutinized as aluminum hydroxide usage in many vaccines has been linked to symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Alzheimer's disease. Currently, laboratory tests and further research are underway.
The AH market in Europe is not oligopolistic as it is shared by multiple players among which one can hardly name a company that stands out. The major AH producers are as follows: Nabaltec (Germany + US), MAL Magyar Aluminium (Hungary), Merck (Germany), Alcoa (Spain) and Alteo (France).