Sulfur Shortage Predicted
According to a study in The Geographical Journal led by the University College London, a shift away from fossil fuels and an increase in agricultural demand will cause the demand for sulfuric acid to increase considerably from 246 to 400 million metric tons by 2040. The result is an annual supply shortfall of between 100 and 320 million metric tons, or between 40 and 130 percent of the current supply.
Sulfur is a byproduct of processing crude oil and natural gas. As the world decarbonizes in response to climate change, there will be a diminished supply of both fossil fuels and sulfur. Sulfuric acid is required for the manufacturing of phosphorus fertilizers used in global food production and for the extraction of rare metals from ores crucial to the transition to a green economy, such as cobalt and nickel used in batteries.
Unless action is taken to reduce the need for this chemical, the study authors warn that environmentally damaging mining will be required to fill the shortfall.