Sodium chlorate is an industrial salt produced from water and common table salt (sodium chloride or NaCl) in an electrochemical reaction. It is a common electrochemical process with global production of approximately 4 million tonnes per year and is manufactured around the world.

ERCO Worldwide is one of the world’s largest producers of sodium chlorate it operates five manufacturing facilities in North America and one in Chile. In addition, ERCO Worldwide has provided sodium chlorate technology to other manufactures in South America and Asia.

Manufacturing

Sodium chlorate is produced from two commonly found raw materials: salt (sodium chloride or NaCl) and water (H2O), along with the addition of electrical energy.

First, raw brine (salt water) is treated to remove impurities such as calcium and magnesium. Next, it is subjected to electrolysis in a specially designed electrochemical cell. The process is chemically illustrated as follows:

NaCl + 3H2O + Electricity > NaClO3 + 3H2

In words, it can be illustrated as follows:

Salt + Water + Power > Sodium Chlorate + Hydrogen Gas

The solution that leaves the electrochemical cell is then fed to a crystallizer to separate the pure sodium chlorate crystals. The sodium chlorate crystals are washed and dried to form the final product. For some customers, the crystals are dissolved in water and shipped as a liquid solution.

ERCO Worldwide’s sodium chlorate is available in two forms: dry white crystal that looks like table salt, and clear solution.

Hydrogen is produced as a co-product in the manufacture of sodium chlorate. It is used as a non-carbon fuel source to replace petrochemical fuels. It is also used in the manufacture of hydrochloric acid, and in the hydrogenation of fatty acids to produce emulsifiers and surfactants.

Uses

Large volumes of sodium chlorate are used by the pulp and paper industry to produce chlorine dioxide (ClO2), which is used in turn to bleach pulp for the manufacture of higher-quality and environmentally friendly white paper products.

Pulp mills convert sodium chlorate into ClO2, an environmentally friendly bleaching agent. The process of using ClO2 to bleach pulp is referred to as elemental chlorine-free or ECF. In addition to manufacturing sodium chlorate, ERCO Worldwide is a leading provider of ClO2 technologies, including engineering, design, provision and installation of a range of ClO2 generators.