Potassium carbonate occurs as a white powder or granules that are soluble in water. It forms a strong alkaline solution when mixed in water. Potassium carbonate is an aqueous solution of potassium hydroxide. It is known to be the chief constituent of potash and refined pearl ash or tartar. The other terms by which potassium carbonate is known include pearl ash, carbonate of potash, salt of wormwood, salt of tartar and dipotassium carbonate. Potassium carbonate melts at 891 degree celcius and is insoluble in alcohol. It is available in various grades that include food grade, industrial grade, light and heavy density among others.
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Potassium carbonate is produced commercially by electrolysis of potassium chloride, which is further carbonated with the help of carbon dioxide forming the end product potassium carbonate. This potassium carbonate is further used in the manufacturing of other potassium compounds. In its aqueous form, potassium chloride is used to remove carbon dioxide from ammonia production synthesis gas in the fertilizer industry. Potassium carbonate neutralizes acids exothermally to form salts and water. It reacts with specific metals such as zinc and aluminium to form oxides of hydroxides of the metal and even of gaseous hydrogen. It is also said to initiate polymerization in the polymerizable organic compounds especially in epoxides. It serves as a catalyst for most of the reactions and reacts when heated above 84 degree celcius with aqueous solutions of reducing sugars.
The various applications of potassium carbonate include in the manufacturing of china products, glass and soap, to make a safe electrolyte for production of oxyhydrogen which is the commonly used electrolyte, as a buffer agent in the manufacture of wine or mead, used for softening hard water, used as a suppressant in extinguishing fryers, used in gunpowder as a stable source of energy, used as an ingredient in welding fluxes and arc welding rods and as an animal feed ingredient to satisfy requirement of potassium of broiler breeds.
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The growing demand for potassium carbonate from the glass industry is driving the potassium carbonate market. The glass industry is the largest consumer of potassium carbonate in manufacturing specialty glasses that also include television tunes among other glass products. The other industries which are anticipated to boost demand for potassium carbonate include pharmaceutical that include potassium carbonate in manufacturing medicines and agricultural where it is used as a fertilizer for crops that are sensitive to chloride ions.
Health hazard is the major factor that may hamper the market growth of potassium carbonate in the near future. Potassium carbonate is known to be strong irritant to eyes and skin. It is harmful if swallowed, it may cause burns from mouth to stomach. If ingested in large amounts can lead to ulcerations, vomiting and death from shock.
North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Rest of the World (RoW) are the major segments for potassium carbonate market. Asia Pacific is expected to be the largest market for potassium carbonate due to the large applications for food grade potassium carbonate in the food industry. The developed economies are also anticipated to boost growth for the market owing to the potassium carbonate consumption in the agriculture and pharmaceutical industries.
Some of the key companies profiled for potassium carbonate market include: Armand Products, ACTH, Zhejiang Dayang, Wentong Group, Qinghai Yanhu, Shandong Lunan, Qinghai Yanhu and CCCL among others.