AkzoNobel and Evonik Industries have begun work on a new membrane electrolysis manufacturing plant, a joint venture for chlorine and potassium hydroxide solution at Ibbenbüren in Germany. The companies say the plant will improve the ecological footprint of every ton of chlorine they produce in Ibbenbüren by 25% to 30% percent. This will result in less energy use and fewer CO2 emissions, while there will also be clear benefits for the local chemical cluster, the companies say.
The plant will have an annual nameplate capacity of around 130,000 metric tons of potassium hydroxide solution and 82,000 metric tons of chlorine, ensuring a reliable supply for customers. AkzoNobel will commercialize the chlorine and hydrogen at the new plant, or will process these products directly at the Ibbenbüren site. Evonik will take the new plant’s potassium hydroxide solution for commercialization and processing at its own site in Lülsdorf, which is where it processes potassium hydroxide solution into various products, including potassium carbonate (potash).
All production of chlorine, potassium hydroxide and caustic lye using mercury-based amalgam electrolysis has to stop by the end of 2017 due to legislative requirements. The planned new membrane electrolysis plant will use a sustainable process which has a more positive environmental profile.
Chlorine is an essential ingredient for the manufacture of a wide variety of products including paper, disinfectants, medicines and plastics used in the construction, automotive and electronics industries.Hydrogen has many applications and is used, for example, as an energy carrier, for the upgrading of fossil fuels and in the production of ammonia.
Both the companies aim to use the joint venture to boost their positions in their respective market segments, Chemicals Technology points out.