Latest thyssenkrupp electrolysis technologies enhance plant efficiencies, productivities, safety and onstream performance
thyssenkrupp Uhde Chlorine Engineers (tkUCE) and thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions, India (tkIS) Caustic Soda-Chlorine Technology Symposium
The latest in the series of technology symposia that thyssenkrupp conducts regularly (and earlier as the erstwhile Uhde company) held on 6th & 7th September in Mumbai, disseminated information on latest technology developments in electrolysis and overall global & India market scenarios in the caustic-chlor industry. Latest technologies like Oxygen Depolarised Cathode (ODC) and continuous improvements in anode & cathodes including overall membrane cell developments through introductions such as BiTAC and BM technologies were discussed in detail.
A very interesting and innovative development presented was the transition towards the use of renewable technology in electrolysis to facilitate the manufacture of various chemicals.
Denis Krude, CEO, tkUCE, Germany spoke of how the company was in continuous process development to reduce costs through technologies that lead to energy savings and improve sustainability. He explained in this context how the well established BiTAC and BM technologies have been continuously improved and now the next generation BiTAC and BM are slated to make full fledged market entries soon. They can reduce energy consumption to less than 2000 Kwh per ton of NaOH. He also outlined the merits of the NaCl – ODC (Oxygen depolarised cathode) electrolysis
technology jointly developed by tkUCE and Covestro. This is particularly useful in instances where hydrogen is not required as a key product, since this process produces less hydrogen. Retrofitting into existing plants is easy. This highly optimised membrane cell has extended lifecycle with the benefit of 25% less energy consumption with improved carbon foot print.
The new technologies lead to far better operational efficiencies and reliability.
In another presentation, Denis Krude spoke of how tkUCE is utilising its proven expertise in electrolysis to commercialise lean and cost effective solutions for large scale water electrolysis for hydrogen production. Renewable energy is used for this electrolysis and it can be used in the production of chemicals such as ammonia, methanol etc thereby offering greener process & product alternatives.
Denis Krude also gave an overall global scenario of the caustic-chlor industry and the dominating market share of tkUCE technology utilisation globally with 72% of the market share in Europe. He said that the current global over capacity in chlor-alkali will pro- gressively reduce resulting in higher capacity utilisation. It is expected that the capacity utilisation of 82% in China in 2017 will go up to 94% in 2022, and 83% in India to 98% during the same period.
Knowledge Sharing & Learning
Earlier, Dr Sami Pelkonen, CEO, BU Electrolysis & Polymers, tkIS AG, in his welcome address gave a background to the technology symposia conducted by tkIS and the importance of the chlor-alkali sector as the backbone of the chemical industry.
P D Samudra, CEO & MD, tkIS India welcoming the guests spoke of the importance and pivotal role of customers in shaping the thyssenkrupp electrolysis business in India. He said that this was the reason the company always shared the latest developments in their proprietary Membrane Cell Electrolysis technology with their growing family of customers.
Stefan Gesing, the then CFO of tkIS AG, in his keynote address mentioned that India is one of their core strategic regions which is why they have their manufacturing, engineering services as well as R&D in India. tkIS continues to invest in India, transfer latest technol-
ogies and continues to grow. He remarked that such technology symposia that they hold bring the entire ‘family’ together as an exercise in sharing & learning of new trends in technology and markets.
Speaking on the long association of GACL with thyssenkrupp since 1976, P K Gera, IAS, Managing Director of GACL, the Chief Guest on the occasion highlighted the important role this association played in GACL continuously improving the processes and in enhancing production capacities.
Transportation of Chemical
Gera emphasised the dire need of shifting transportation of chlorine from overland tankers – which is hazardous – to safer underground pipelines. He invited tkIS to help a taskforce under the Ministry of Chemicals & Petrochemicals which is preparing guidelines & regulations for chlorine transportation.
He lamented the delay in setting up PCPIRs, many of which have been talked about for long – as they could mitigate the supply of many chemicals whose demand in India today is far ahead of domestic availability.
Amit Dhaka, IAS, Mg Director of PACL who was the Guest of Honour also spoke of the role played by tkIS in modernising and upgrading their plants. He also called for detailed protocols for the safe handling of chlorine. He remarked that the power situation in India continues to be of concern and that the efficiency of caustic-chlor manufacture was dependant on amongst other factors on the consistency of power supply.
Praising the one stop shop of provision of technology to project execution by thyssenkrupp and how DCW benefitted from their long association, Mudit Jain, Mg Director, DCW, Guest of Honour spoke of the projects from conversion of mercury cell to membrane cell onwards through thyssenkrupp.
He pointed out the many challenges facing chemicals manufacturers in India from higher feedstock costs, high energy costs to transportation costs making for costlier manufacture in India and the difficulty in facing competition from cost competitive imports. If these barriers could be addressed, India had great window of opportunities in manufacturing many chemicals, he remarked. He said that many chlorine based chemicals could be very well manufactured in India which were being imported now.
Mudit Jain also lamented certain government regulations such as for instance the obligation to purchase renewable based power at higher cost even when chlor- alkali companies had captive power.
Presenting the Indian scenario, Suresh Pandita, Chief Manager, Sales (Technologies) tkIS, India, explained how the chlor-alkali industry worldwide was growing at a good pace due to current favourable economic growth. Global caustic soda demand growth is expected to remain around 3.3% till 2022 while chlorine demand at 2.4%. India’s installed capacity increased by 8.7% in 2016-17 compared to previous year, he said. India’s overall caustic soda capacity stood at 3.66 million mtpa in 2016-17 and is expected to be 3.92 million mtpa by 2017-18. However, India’s capacity utilisation of caustic soda was around 80% and was limited by the inability to find productive uses for chlorine which is co-produced. Some part of the caustic soda demand in India, is met through imports which, however, have declined in 2016-17 compared to 2015-16. Power costs were 50-60% of the production costs, Pandita pointed out and this continues to be a challenge. Consuming industries like textiles, alumina, organic chemicals, pulp & paper, soap & detergents continue to drive the main demand for caustic soda.
Investments in manufacture of chlorine products, he said, could alter the scenario of the industry drastically. PVC alone can change the tide as 50% of India’s PVC demand is met thru imports and more PVC capacity set up in India.
Later Randolf Kiefer showcased the benefits and advantages of the latest BM Technology which has enhanced efficiency, power savings, no leaks and extended membrane service life.
tkUCE’s BiTAC technology and how continuous improvements in anode & cathode sides led to the latest processes were explained by Ken Hamamoto, Head of Sales, AKUCE, Japan.
There were technology sessions on markets, plant operations, product performance etc addressed by thyssenkrupp experts as well as plant experiences by experts from the customer side.
Inauguration of the Symposium by Chief Guest PK Gera, IAS MD GACL; Guest of Honour Amit Dhaka, IAS MD PACL; Guest of Honour Mudit Jain, MD DCW; Stefan Gesing, former CFO tkIS AG; Dr S Pelkonen, CEO BU Electrolysis & Polymers, tkIS AG; PD Samudra, CEO & MD tkIS India and Dr D Krude,CEO tkUCE Global.