How can you Make Chlorine More Sustainable?
The good news: There is life after mercury. The Eurochlor is certain that only two sites in Europe are currently threatened by closure. Although a boom of new chlorine sites is highly unlikely, the conversion and demolition of the old mercury plants at least promise full order books of engineering firms and project managers.
For now, the industry has put the topics of security, sustainability and energy on the agenda. "Safety is our license for production", said Ton Manders, Eurochlor’s technical director. And there is still much to be done, the specialist admits self-critically: "Our performance is not good enough."
Although there were fewer accidents per tonne of chlorine produced, the total number of incidents stagnated. The industry thus intends to present a ten-point plan for better safety to the international Chlorine Alkali Conference in September, Manders says.
Even more haunting for the industry is the perennial energy issue: Chlorine electrolysis is an extremely energy-consuming process - and therefore under high cost pressure in Europe. Saving energy is therefore not just at the very top of the list of priorities of plant operators for sustainability reasons. Yet, current figures dampen over-zealous visions: Since 2015, after years of decline, energy consumption for chlorine production has grown slightly, (by 1.2% compared to the previous year).
The current values are still around 3.7% below the level of 2011 (and almost ten percent below the level in 2001), but the trend towards lower consumption values seems to have come to a halt in around 2013. This could be due to the reduced efficiency of the ageing mercury plants, experts suggest.
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