Sulfur: A potential resource crisis that could stifle green technology and threaten food security as the world decarbonises
Maslin et al.…
Sulfur in the form of sulfuric acid is a crucial part of our modern industrial society. It is required for the production of phosphorus fertiliser and manufacturing lightweight electric motors and high-performance lithium-ion batteries. Over 246 million tonnes of sulfuric acid are used annually. Rapid growth in the green economy and intensive agriculture could see demand increase to over 400 million tonnes by 2040.

Today over 80% of the global sulfur supply comes from desulfurisation of fossil fuels to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas. Decarbonisation of the global economy to deal with climate change will greatly reduce the production of fossil fuels. This will create a shortfall in the annual supply of sulfuric acid of between 100 and 320 million tonnes by 2040, depending on how quickly decarbonisation occurs. Unless action is taken to reduce the need for sulfuric acid, a massive increase in environmentally damaging mining will be required to fill this resource demand.



The main problem with petroleum is when you burn it, pulling it out of the ground and breaking it down into various components just to recover the sulfur, bitumen etc., isn’t the real issue so running out of sulfur should not be an issue.