Sodium nitrate is a type of alkali metal nitrate salt, also popularly known as Chile saltpeter (as large deposits of this salt are found in Chile) to differentiate it from ordinary saltpeter and potassium nitrate. It is a white, crystalline solid and though it is non-combustible, it increases the burning rate of combustible materials. Large quantities of sodium nitrate result in fires, or explosions in cases where the combustible material is finely divided.
Sodium nitrate finds important applications in solid propellants, explosives and chemical fertilizers, apart from many other uses. It also finds important applications in several reactions carried out on industrial scales for the manufacture of chemical fertilizers, pyrotechnics and smoke bombs, glass and pottery enamels, preservatives for food applications and in the manufacture of solid rocket propellants.
Sodium nitrate is also used as a colour fixative in cured meats and poultry. It finds application as an oxidizer in fireworks, thereby substituting potassium nitrate commonly found in black powder, and as a component in instant cold packs.
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Sodium nitrate is combined with potassium nitrate and calcium nitrate for the purpose of heat storage and, lately, for heat transfer applications in solar power plants. A mixture of sodium nitrate, calcium nitrate and potassium nitrate finds application as an energy-storage material in prototype plants, such as the Andasol Solar Power Station and the Archimedes projects. Apart from this, sodium nitrate also finds application in wastewater treatment processes for facultative microorganism respiration. Nitrosomonas, a genus of microorganisms, consumes sodium nitrate preferentially vis-à-vis oxygen, enabling it to grow more rapidly in the wastewater to be treated.
Rising demand from the food and beverages industry
In recent times, there has been a rise in the demand for food preservatives from the rapidly growing food & beverage industry. Preservation of processed food has been gaining importance over the past few years. Sodium nitrate is being increasingly used as a preservative in specific processed meats, such as bacon, jerky and luncheon meats. Moreover, the volume of processed food & beverage consumed has been rising exponentially, which can be primarily attributed to the rising population with high income groups, especially in developing economies. These factors have been largely contributing to market growth.
Some of the key manufacturers operating in the global sodium nitrate market include BASF SE, Merck KGaA, Grupa Azoty, Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd., and Avantor Performance Materials, Inc. Some of the other producers of sodium nitrate include Deepak Nitrite, Ricca Chemical Company and LabChem, among others.
Regional analysis includes:
- North America (U.S., Canada)
- Latin America (Mexico. Brazil)
- Western Europe (Germany, Italy, France, U.K, Spain)
- Eastern Europe (Poland, Russia)
- Asia Pacific (China, India, ASEAN, Australia & New Zealand)
- Middle East and Africa (GCC Countries, S. Africa, Northern Africa)
Market by grade
- Industry grade sodium nitrate
- Food grade sodium nitrate
- Pharmaceutical grade sodium nitrate
Market by end use industry
- Pharmaceutical & Healthcare
- Food & Beverage
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