AkzoNobel and Evonik Industries on Tuesday confirmed plans announced in 2014 that they will go ahead with a project to build and operate a new membrane electrolysis facility for chlorine and potassium hydroxide solution in Germany. Startup is expected by the end of 2017. The 50-50 joint venture involves the construction and operation of a dedicated plant at AkzoNobel’s existing site at Ibbenbüren. It will have a nameplate capacity of around 130,000 m.t./year of potassium hydroxide solution and 82,000 m.t./year of chlorine. It will strengthen the leading market positions of both companies. Financial details were not disclosed.
AkzoNobel will take over commercialization of chlorine and hydrogen at the new plant, and will process these products directly at the Ibbenbüren site. Evonik will take over the potassium hydroxide solution for commercialization and processing at its own site at Lülsdorf where it processes potassium hydroxide solution into potassium carbonate.
“This investment in our chlor-alkali activities will make our business even more sustainable,” said Werner Fuhrmann, AkzoNobel’s board member/specialty chemicals. “Not only will we secure the long-term supply of our customers with chlorine and hydrogen, but our environmental profile and operational efficiency will also further improve.”
“The new joint venture will enable us to supply our customers with our potassium derivatives reliably in the long term,” said Patrik Wohlhauser, member of the board of Evonik. “At the same time, it means we’re making a significant contribution to the environmentally-friendly and sustainable production of potassium derivatives.”
All the production of chlorine, potassium hydroxide and caustic lye using mercury-based amalgam electrolysis has to be discontinued 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.
AkzoNobel is the market leader in industrial salt, merchant chlorine and chloromethanes in Europe, as well as holding a leading position for caustic lye in Europe. Evonik is a European market leader in potassium derivatives as well as a globally leading provider of alcoxides, which are manufactured at Lülsdorf, also by electrolysis.
By Natasha Alperowicz