Thio refers to a chemical, generally an ion, where the oxygen atom in the compound is replaced by a sulphur ion. Almost all chemicals where the oxygen ion is replaced by a sulphur ion are known as thiochemicals. A reaction in which oxygen is converted to sulphur is called as thionation or thiation. Thiochemicals include thiourea, thiosulphate etc.
Some of the key applications of thiochemicals constitute the animal nutrition industry and the oil and gas industry. Thiochemicals constitute a very niche market in the global chemical market. Sulphur is the key raw material that is utilized in the thionation process, which on further processing gives methyl mercaptan and other mercaptans. Methyl mercaptan is employed in animal nutrition and in the oil and gas industries while other mercaptans are used as gas odorizers in gas leakage detection and in the polymers industry as a polymerization agent. Methyl mercaptans are majorly used in refineries for fuel desulfuring in the oil and gas industry and in crackers as anticocking agents.
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Some of the key drivers of the thiochemicals market include the animal nutrition industry and the oil and gas industry. The increase in the global poultry consumption, the growing population and the untapped emerging countries in the Middle Eastern region are the main drivers for the thiochemicals market. In addition, stringent regulations on the sulfur content in fuel coupled with new petrochemical projects in the Middle Eastern countries, Asian countries, and in the U.S. and the growig use of natural gas are few of the other drivers for the thiochemicals market. In addition, the fast growing applications of thiochemicals for the desulfuration of gasoline and diesel along with its use in gas leakage detection is likely to boost the market for thiochemicals during the forecast period. A few thiochemicals including thioglycolates and thiolactates are used as active ingredients in the cosmetic industry as cold wave formulations for hair perms and hair straighteners. Moreover, thioglycolic acids are basic materials for the synthesis of PVC heat stabilizers.
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Among the four regions, the major market for thiochemicals is North America. Owing to the high consumption of poultry in this region along with the growing number of oil and gas fields, the demand for thiochemicals is likely to increase over the next few years. The demand for thiochemicals in Europe followed that of North America. This is due to the stringent rules and regulations put forth by the EU in order to reduce the sulphur content in the fuel. In addition, the increased number of oil and gas fields in Middle Eastern countries is expected to boost the market for thiochemicals during the projected period. The demand for thiochemicals in emerging economies in the Asia Pacific region especially India and China is anticipated to grow owing to the change in food preferences in various population groups. However, the cost of production of thiochemicals and the volatility in the price of raw materials are likely to be the main restraints of the thiochemicals market.