Hydrochloric Acid Supply Chain - Executive Summary

Hydrochloric Acid

Direct Use Chemical Precursor Chemical



Inputs to Manufacturing Process:

Chlorine	Hydrogen

Organic Chemicals

^ Derivative Water Treatment Chemicals:
Ferrous Chloride Polyaluminum Chloride
Ferric Chloride Zinc Orthophosphate

^ % of Total Domestic Consumption
Attributed to Water Sector:

Less than 1%

/5\ Understanding Chemical Supply Chains
Map of Suppliers & Manufacturers

A. Product Family:

CAS No.:

2 Shelf Life:
12-24 Months

— RISK OF SUPPLY DISRUPTION (Assessed in 2022)

RISK RATING: Moderate-Low


Hydrochloric acid production is
directly dependent on chlorine. It
is primarily produced as a co- or
byproduct in the manufacturing
of chlorinated derivative chemi-
cals. Demand for chlorine and
chlorine derivative products, as
well as demand for end uses has
resulted in supply disruptions.


Criticality: High. Essential for pH
adjustment and production of
water treatment chemicals.

Likelihood: High. Previous regional
disruptions in supply that impacted
the water sector.

Vulnerability: Low. Distributed
domestic manufacturing and


Water Treatment Applications

Organic Chemicals




Input	End Use

pH Adjustment

Ion-exchange resin regeneration
Water treatment chemical production

Other Applications

Oil and gas well acidizing
Steel pickling
Chemical production
Ore processing


Domestic Manufacturing Locations (2015):
94, distributed throughout the U.S.

(^) International Trade (2019)

PrimaryTrading Partner (Imports): Canada
PrimaryTrading Partner (Exports): Canada

Domestic Consumption (2019):
1,458 M kg

I Domestic Production (1,212 M kg)
¦ Imports for Consumption (308 M kg)
I Export of Domestic Production (61 M kg)


Hydrochloric Acid Supply Chain - Full Profile

Product Description

Hydrochloric acid (HCI) is an inorganic, strong acid that is widely used for pH adjustment. It is a key input in the
commercial manufacture of several other water treatment chemicals. Hydrochloric acid is primarily
manufactured as a byproduct of manufacturing chlorinated organic chemicals or through combination of the
chlor-alkali co-products chlorine and hydrogen. The majority of hydrochloric acid manufactured in the U.S. is
used in oil and gas well acidification, steel pickling, and food manufacturing.

Use in Water Treatment

Hydrochloric acid is used in water treatment for pH adjustment and the regeneration of ion-exchange resins.
Use as a Precursor to Other Water Treatment Chemicals

Hydrochloric acid is used to manufacture ferrous chloride, ferric chloride, polyaluminum chloride, and zinc

Other Applications

Hydrochloric acid has a wide range of applications. The leading uses of hydrochloric acid are steel pickling, oil
well acidification, food manufacturing, ore processing, and organic and inorganic chemical production
(OxyChem, 2018).

Primary Industrial Consumers

In 2011, the use of hydrochloric acid in oil and gas well acidification accounted for 30% of domestic
consumption, followed by steel pickling and food processing, which each accounted for 19% of domestic
consumption. A variety of other applications including organic chemical production, ore processing, and water
treatment applications accounted for the remaining 32%. While the percentage of consumption accounted for
by water treatment is unknown, it is believed to be less than 1% based on estimates of other uses (McCoy, 2012;
NCBI, 2021).

Manufacturing, Transport, & Storage

Manufacturing Process

Over 90% of hydrochloric acid is produced as a byproduct from the production of chlorinated solvents,
fluorocarbons, isocyanates, organics, magnesium, and vinyl chloride monomer. Hydrochloric acid is produced as
a gas, generally referred to as hydrogen chloride, while the solution is more commonly referred to as
hydrochloric acid, however the terms are often used interchangeably. Hydrogen chloride gas is readily absorbed
by water. As chlorination of an organic compound takes place, the hydrogen chloride-containing gas stream
goes to an absorption tower where concentrated hydrochloric acid is produced by absorption of hydrogen
chloride gas into a weak solution of hydrochloric acid. Less than 10% of U.S. hydrochloric acid production is
made by the direct reaction of hydrogen and chlorine, generally referred to as the thermal method (EPA, 2019;
NCBI, 2021; OxyChem, 2018). Both manufacturing methods, depicted in Figure 1, depend on the chlor-alkali
industry for inputs.

EPA 817-F-22-029 | December 2022


Hydrochloric Acid Supply Chain - Full Profile

Hydrochloric Acid Produced as a Byproduct of Chlorination of Aliphatic Hydrocarbons

Chloromethane + Chlorine —> Chloroform + Hydrochloric Acid
CH3CI	+ 2CI2 -> CHCI3 + 2HCI

Hydrochloric Acid Produced from the Reaction of Hydrogen and Chlorine

Hydrogen + Chlorine —> Hydrochloric Acid
H2 + Cl2 ->	2HCI

Figure 1. Chemical Equation for the Reaction to Manufacture Hydrochloric Acid

Product Transport

Hydrochloric acid can be transported in bulk or smaller containers by truck, rail, barge, and ship (OxyChem,

Storage and Shelf Life

Hydrochloric acid is a highly corrosive and hazardous chemical, and should be stored in non-reactive storage
vessels at room temperature in a dry, cool place. When stored properly, hydrochloric acid can have a shelf life of
12 to 24 months, depending on concentration and size of storage container (NCBI, 2021).

Domestic Production & Consumption

Domestic Production

Production data was collected from 2020 EPA Chemical Data Reporting (CDR), while trade data was collected
from the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) Dataweb, as shown in Table 1. Both production and trade
data are specific to hydrochloric acid.

Table 1. Hydrochloric Acid Production and Trade Data Sources

Production and Trade Data


Data Source



Domestic Production

2020 TSCA Chemical Data Reporting

CAS No.: 7647-01-0

Hydrochloric acid

Imports and Exports

U.S. International Trade Commission

HS Code: 2806.10

Hydrochloric Acid

Total U.S. domestic production of hydrochloric acid was approximately 1,212 million kilograms (M kg) in 2019
(EPA, 2020). A substantial portion of domestic commercial manufacture of hydrochloric acid is integrated into
production of other chemicals such as dichloroethane and vinyl chloride for polyvinyl chloride production
(USITC, 1992). Many chemical manufacturers produce hydrochloric acid and subsequently use it as an
intermediary in chemical production (EPA, 2003; McCoy, 2012). Some of the primary manufacturing locations in
the U.S. are owned by Shintech, Formosa Plastics Corporation, and Superior Plus US Holdings Inc. The number of
domestic manufacturing locations shown in Figure 2 represents operating facilities as of 2015 (EPA, 2016).
Supply of NSF/ANSI Standard 60 certified hydrochloric acid for use in drinking water treatment is widely
distributed throughout the U.S. (NSF International, 2021). For a more current listing of manufacturing locations
and supplier locations, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Chemical Locator Tool (EPA,



Hydrochloric Acid Supply Chain - Full Profile







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Domestic Supply and Manufacturing of Hydrochloric Acid
O 75 NSF/ANSI Standard 60 Certified Suppliers (NSF International, 2021)
© 94 Domestic Manufacturing Locations (EPA Chemical Data Reporting, 2016)

Figure 2. Domestic Supply and Manufacturing of Hydrochloric Acid
Domestic Consumption

U.S. consumption of hydrochloric acid in 2019 is estimated at 1,458 M kg. This estimate includes production of
1,212 M kg, import of 308 M kg, minus export of 61 M kg (EPA, 2020; USITC, 2021), as shown in Figure 3.

Domestic Consumption (2019):
1,458 M kg

¦	Domestic Production (1,212 M kg)

¦	Imports for Consumption (308 M kg)

¦	Export of Domestic Production (61 M kg)

Figure 3. Domestic Production and Consumption of Hydrochloric Acid in 2019

Trade & Tariffs
Worldwide Trade

Worldwide import and export data for hydrochloric acid are reported through the World Bank's World
Integrated Trade Solutions (WITS) software, as a category specific to hydrochloric acid. In 2021, the U.S. ranked
tenth worldwide in total exports and first in total imports of hydrochloric acid. In 2021, Germany ranked first



Hydrochloric Acid Supply Chain - Full Profile

worldwide in total exports (WITS, 2022), as shown in Table 2.

Table 2. WITS Worldwide Export and Import of Hydrochloric Acid in 2021

2021 Worldwide Trade
Hydrochloric Acid (HS Code 2806.10)

Top 5 Worldwide Exporters

Top 5 Worldwide Importers


615 M kg

United States

328 M kg


317 M kg


250 M kg


257 M kg


242 M kg


171 M kg


237 M kg


138 M kg


145 M kg

Domestic Imports and Exports

Domestic imports and export data are reported by USITC in categories specific to hydrochloric acid. Figure 4
summarizes imports for consumption1 and domestic exports2 of hydrochloric acid between 2015 and 2020.
During this period, the overall quantity of exports and imports remained steady, with imports for consumption
exceeding domestic exports. Over this five-year period, Canada was the primary recipient of domestic exports
and the primary source of imports (USITC, 2021).


Domestic Trade of Flydrochloric Acid
HS Code 2806.10







I Imports from Canada
I Imports from Germany
Imports from Other Countries

I Exports to Canada
Exports to Mexico
Exports to Other Countries

Figure 4. USITC Domestic Import and Export of Hydrochloric Acid between 2015 and 2020

1	Imports for consumption are a subset of general imports, representing the total amount cleared through customs and entering
consumption channels, not anticipated to be reshipped to foreign points, but may include some reexports.

2	Domestic exports are a subset of total exports, representing export of domestic merchandise which are produced or manufactured in
the U.S. and commodities of foreign origin which have been changed in the U.S.



Hydrochloric Acid Supply Chain


There is no general duty for import of hydrochloric acid, however there is an additional 25% duty on
from China (USITC, 2022), as summarized in Table 3.

Table 3. 2020 Domestic Tariff Schedule for Hydrochloric Acid

HS Code

General Duty

Additional Duty - China
(Section 301 Tariff List)

Special Duty





Market History & Risk Evaluation

History of Shortages

Production of hydrochloric acid is highly dependent on demand for chemicals which produce hydrochloric acid
as a co- or byproduct. Demand slowed considerably during the Great Recession of 2007-2009, which resulted in
reduced production and a shortage of hydrochloric acid in 2011 (McCoy, 2012).

Historically the purchase price of hydrochloric acid has been impacted by fluctuations in the price of oil and
growth or contraction of steel manufacturing activities, while availability has been tightly tied to availability of
chlorine and demand for the other chemical products for which hydrochloric acid is an integrated co- or

The COVID-19 pandemic also impacted the price and availability of hydrochloric acid. In 2020-2021, there was a
sharp falloff in demand for hydrochloric acid in oilfields and steel manufacturing. As crude oil prices dropped in
2020, drilling activity decreases, which in turn reduced the demand for hydrochloric acid. Additionally,
temporary shutdowns of factories for cleaning or reorganization to maintain social distancing led to a drop in
demand for steel (Bowen, 2020). The tight market for chlorine during this period also played a role in the
shortage of hydrochloric acid.

Risk Evaluation

The complete risk evaluation methodology is described in Understanding Water Treatment Chemical Supply
Chains and the Risk of Disruptions (EPA, 2022b). The risk rating is calculated as the product of the following three
risk parameters:

Risk = Criticality x Likelihood x Vulnerability
Criticality	Measure of the importance of a chemical to the water sector

Likelihood Measure of the probability that the chemical will experience a supply disruption in the
future, which is estimated based on past occurrence of supply disruptions

Vulnerability Measure of the market dynamics that make a chemical market more or less resilient to
supply disruptions

The individual parameter rating is based on evaluation of one or more attributes of the chemical or its supply
chain. The ratings and drivers for these three risk parameters are shown below in Table 4.

- Full Profile




Hydrochloric Acid Supply Chain - Full Profile

Table 4. Supply Chain Risk Evaluation for Hydrochloric Acid

Risk Parameter Ratings and Drivers

1 Criticality High 1

1 Likelihood High 1

1 Vulnerability Low 1

Hydrochloric acid has widespread
application for pH adjustment. It is a
precursor in the production of several
other critical water treatment

The water sector has experienced
regional hydrochloric acid supply
disruptions in the past. In 2020
disruptions in the supply of
hydrochloric acid occurred due to a
decrease in demand for chemicals in
industries that produce hydrochloric
acid as a byproduct and disruptions in
the supply of chlor-alkali chemicals
needed to produce hydrochloric acid.

Strong domestic manufacturing
capabilities and a distributed
manufacturing base provide some
resilience to supply disruptions.

Risk Rating: Moderate-Low




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Bowen, Bill, 2020. Independent Commodity Intelligence Services. US HCI dealt second major demand blow
as steel production plummets. Independent Commodity Intelligence Services, April 16, 2020, retrieved
from https://www.icis.com/explore/resources/news/2020/04/16/10497Q88/us-hcl-dealt-second-maior-

EPA, 2003. Economic Impact Analysis of the Hydrochloric Acid (HCI) Production NESHAP: Final Report,
retrieved from https://www3.epa.gov/ttnecasl/docs/eia ip/hcl-acid eia neshap final 02-2003.pdf

EPA, 2016. 2016 TSCA Chemical Data Reporting, retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/chemical-data-

EPA, 2019. Toxics Release Inventory Guidance for Reporting Hydrochloric Acid (acid, aerosols including mists,
vapors, gas, fog, and other airborne forms of any particle size), retrieved from
https://ordspub.epa.gov/ords/guideme ext/f?p=guideme:gd:::::gd:hcl

EPA, 2020. 2020 TSCA Chemical Data Reporting, retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/chemical-data-

EPA, 2022a. Chemical Suppliers and Manufacturers Locator Tool, retrieved from


EPA, 2022b. Understanding Water Treatment Chemical Supply Chains and the Risk of Disruptions, retrieved
from https://www.epa.gov/waterutilityresponse/risk-disruptions-supplv-water-treatment-chemicals

McCoy, Michael, 2012. The Hunt is on for Hydrochloric Acid. Chemical & Engineering News, 90(6), retrieved



Hydrochloric Acid Supply Chain - Full Profile

from https://cen.acs.org/articles/90/i6/Hunt-Hydrochloric-Acid.html

NSF International, 2021. Search for NSF Certified Drinking Water Treatment Chemicals, retrieved from

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2021. PubChem Compound Summary for CID 313,
Hydrochloric acid, retrieved from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Hvdrochloric-acid

OxyChem, 2018. Hydrochloric Acid Handbook, retrieved from

alkali/hydrochloric acid handbook.pdf

U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), 1992. Industry & Trade Summary: Inorganic Acids, retrieved
from https://www.usitc.gov/publications/other/pub2509.pdf

U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), 2021. USITC DataWeb, retrieved from

U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), 2022. Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) Search, retrieved from

World Integrated Trade Solutions (WITS), 2022. Trade Statistics by Product (HS 6-digit), retrieved from