Caustic Soda (Sodium Hydroxide)

ERCO Worldwide has manufactured and supplied caustic soda (sodium hydroxide), hydrochloric acid (HCl), and chlorine in western Canada since acquiring Saskatoon Chemicals in 1997, and in the Midwest U.S. since acquiring Vulcan Materials Company’s Port Edwards plant in 2005. In addition to producing caustic soda, the Port Edwards facility produces potassium hydroxide or caustic potash.

The chlor-alkali products are used as both basic and building-block chemicals for the production of other products. For example, chlorine can be used directly for the disinfection of drinking water and can also be used to produce other products such as poly vinyl chloride (PVC), a common and widely used plastic material.

Manufacturing

Caustic soda is produced commercially by two basic methods: electrolytic cells and chemical process. Most caustic soda is produced from electrolytic cells. There are three types of electrolytic cells: diaphragm, mercury, and membrane. ERCO Worldwide manufactures caustic soda using membrane cell technology, which has the highest electrical efficiency. When the Port Edwards facility was acquired in 2005, it had older mercury-based manufacturing technology. In 2009, ERCO Worldwide modernized the Port Edwards plant and converted it to membrane technology.

Uses

Caustic soda is one of the basic building blocks of chemistry and, as such, finds diversified applications. A few of its broad-use categories are: chemical manufacturing, pulp and paper manufacturing, cleaning products, petroleum and natural gas exploration, production and processing, cellulose film manufacturing, cotton textile processing, and water treatment.

Caustic soda is an important chemical for the pulp and paper industry. Its principal uses in pulp and paper production are the cooking/processing of Kraft pulps, the extraction of lignin during the pulp bleaching sequences, and the on-site manufacture of sodium hypochlorite for disinfection applications such as water treatment. The general pulp bleaching procedure involves a bleaching sequence during which impurities and coloured matter in the pulp are oxidized and/or converted to alkali-soluble forms, and an extraction sequence during which the impurities are removed.

The cleaning products sector makes wide use of caustic soda, either as a reactant to produce chemical compounds employed in these applications, such as sodium salts of organic sulphonic acids and sodium hypochlorite, or as a direct component of products such as drain pipe and oven cleaners. Caustic soda and caustic potash are used to make soaps, synthetic detergents and alkaline detergents for household and non-household use, and various other cleaning products.

Caustic soda is used in several applications by the petroleum and natural gas industry for exploration and production, and for the processing of products. It is an important component of most drilling muds, and can be used in alkaline flooding of producing fields for enhanced oil recovery.

Caustic soda, especially when used for pH control, neutralization of waste acids, and similar applications, competes with other alkalies, particularly sodium carbonate (soda ash). Caustic soda is commonly selected due to its stronger basicity, and easier storage and handling.

Caustic soda is consumed in the production of rayon, cellophane, and other cellulose products.
Caustic soda is used to control pH and as a reactant in the production of cotton fabrics and fibres.

Municipal water treatment facilities use caustic soda for pH adjustment, ion exchange regeneration, and in the production of sodium hypochlorite for water disinfection.

Caustic soda is also used in several food processing applications, including for removing skins from potatoes, tomatoes, and other fruits. It is also used in processing edible fats and oils.

Chlorine

ERCO Worldwide produces chlorine at its Saskatoon and Port Edwards chlor-alkali facilities, and has longstanding experience and an outstanding track record in the safe manufacture, handling, storage, and shipping of chlorine. We are a long-time member of The Chlorine Institute and are a provider of chlorine transportation emergency response on behalf of the chlorine industry in the regions surrounding our plants.

Manufacturing

Chlorine, as well as caustic soda and potash (sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide) are manufactured by the electrolysis of brine that contains either sodium chloride or potassium chloride salt, respectively.

Uses

The use of chlorine to disinfect water for drinking, washing and swimming purposes is well-known and has been designated as one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century – virtually eliminating drinking water-borne pathogens such as typhoid and cholera. Chlorine is also an essential building block in the chemicals industry, assisting in the creation of myriad materials that are used to make the products we use every day for health, safety, nutrition, security, transportation, lifestyle, and high-tech innovation.

Chlorine products of all kinds and chlorine-derivative products are present in a remarkable 45 percent of North America’s gross domestic product. Chlorine’s nearly limitless list of applications and uses includes everything from antibiotics and surgical equipment, to foam seating, jet engines, semiconductors, vitamins and surfboards.

Hydrochloric acid (HCl)

ERCO Worldwide produces HCl at its Saskatoon and Port Edwards chlor-alkali facilities .

Manufacturing

Also known as muriatic acid, HCl is manufactured from chlorine and hydrogen – both of which are produced in the chlor-alkali process, making these products a natural fit for ERCO Worldwide.

Uses

HCl is an important and widely used chemical. The largest end uses are steel pickling, oil well acidizing, food manufacturing, calcium chloride production, and ore processing.

HCl is also used in many other production processes for organic chemicals, such as in the production of p-phenylenediamine, polycarbonate resins, bisphenol A, polyvinyl chloride resins, and ethanol (from ethylene).

The pharmaceutical industry consumes HCl as a catalyst in the manufacture of medications, for pH control, for deionization of water and as a reduction agent (e.g., in the production of ascorbic acid and para-aminobenzoic acid).

HCl has numerous other uses, including the manufacture of dyes and pigments; the removal of sludge and scale from industrial equipment; the deliming, tanning and dying of hides by the leather industry; manufacture of permanent wave lotion; the carbonizing of wool; assisting in bleaching and dyeing in the textile industry; and the purification of sand and clay.

Potassium Hydroxide

 

ERCO Worldwide produces potassium hydroxide, also commonly called caustic potash, at its Port Edwards chlor-alkali facility. The Port Edwards facility serves markets across North America, with efficient logistics provide by both rail and trucking.

Manufacturing

ERCO Worldwide manufactures potassium hydroxide by the electrolysis of potassium chloride brine in electrolytic cells.

Uses

Potassium hydroxide is used in a wide variety of industrial applications - primarily as a key input in the production of potassium carbonate, potassium phosphates, liquid fertilizers, and potassium-based soaps and detergents.