By Jiang Yanyan, CNCIC
Nitroguanidine is an important intermediate of organic synthesis and explosives and powders synthesis. It is widely applied in gunpowder, pesticides, medicine and automotive airbags etc.
China’s nitroguanidine capacities totalled around 90 kt/a in 2018 and domestic output was around 49 kt. Major producers concentrated in Ningxia and Jiangsu. They together accounted for 70% of total domestic capacity. Companies having relatively large capacities include Nantong Tendenci Chemical, Ningxia Soochow Agrochemical and Ningxia Beilite Chemical. Their nitroguanidine products are mostly fed into downstream production (mainly pesticides intermediates) and a minority are sold in the market. In China, nitroguanidine finds wide applications in pesticides, explosives and powders, as well as medicine intermediates.
Nitroguanidine is used in the preparation of nicotinic insecticides, as an intermediate for the synthesis of imidacloprid and chlorothiazoline products. It can also be methylated and synthesized into methylnitroguanidine, used as an intermediate of thiamethoxam, dinotefuran and thiamethoxam. In 2018, China’s pesticides industry consumed around 28 kt of nitroguanidine, accounting for 60% of total domestic consumption.
Nicotinic insecticides were the largest downstream consumers of nitroguanidine in 2018, with mainstream products enjoying both brisk domestic sales and exports. In 2018, domestic imidacloprid capacity stood at around 29 kt/a and output at 20 kt; domestic thiamethoxam capacity reached 8 kt/a and output at 5 kt.
China’s medicine industry used up around 1 kt of nitroguanidine in 2018. By reduction nitroguanidine can prepare aminoguanidine, which is used in the synthesis of angina drug, Trapymin.
Explosives and powders
Nitroguanidine can be directly used in the configuration of explosives and smokeless powder. It is an important admixture of nitrocellulose powder, nitroglycerine explosives, and diethylene glycol dinitrates and component of solid rocket propellant.
In China, civil-use nitroguanidine explosives are strictly controlled and therefore, its demand for nitroguanidine is very limited. In 2018, explosives and powders consumed 15 kt of nitroguanidine, accounting for 32% of total domestic consumption.
In terms of import and export trade, nitroguanidine is a strictly controlled dangerous chemical and is not easy for long-distance transport. In addition, China no longer needs to import as domestic supply is ample. There are only a limited number of reagent grade imported products. In recent years, China began to export a small volume of nitroguanidine and its export volume was 2 kt in 2018.
In the pesticides industry, consumption of new nicotinic insecticides will keep rising, but its support for nitroguanidine consumption is likely to retard due to substitution among different varieties and slow capacity growth. In 2018-2022, the average annual growth rate of nitroguanidine consumption from the pesticides sector is predicted at 5-6%. Low demand from the medicine industry will not have a major impact on nitroguanidine consumption, while automotive airbags no longer use nitroguanidine.
Sulphuric acid route is the major production process for nitroguanidine. Nitric acid method is currently in pilot test but has not yet been industrialized. Although the development and research of the nitric acid process is likely to be advanced under companies’ support, it will not become the technical driver of the nitroguanidine industry.