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Comment PDF Environment, Health, Safety & Security

The Greening of Chlor-Alkali Production

By Gerald Ondrey |

Environmental regulations and high energy costs are driving technology advances that make plants cleaner and more efficient For some, the production of chlorine and caustic has been considered a nasty business: not only are the products dangerous if not handled properly, but the traditional, century-old chlor-alkali process itself — the electrolysis of brine — has been carried out in hundreds of cells that either contain mercury (a toxic pollutant) or a diaphragm made of asbestos (a carcinogen). And continuously flowing through the banks of cells are thousands of Amperes of electrical current (current densities of 5–6 kA/m2), which makes the process one of the most energy-intensive in the chemical process industries (CPI). Nevertheless, both Cl2 and NaOH, as well as the byproduct H2 are extremely important in just about all sectors of the CPI. In Europe, for example, over half of all chemicals produced rely on chlor-alkali products, with the vast majority of Cl2 used in modern plastics, such as polyvinylchloride (PVC), according to Euro Chlor (Brussels, Belgium; www.eurochlor.org). Also, 85% of all medicines made in Europe are based on chlorine, over 90% of European drinking water is made safe for consumption using chlorine…
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