Foreword: – It is surprising that we had to wait so long for a new book that gives a comprehensive treatment of chlor-alkali manufacturing technology. Technologists are largely still making do with the classical book edited by Sconce, but that is more than thirty years old. At the time of its publication, metal anodes were just beginning to appear, and ion-exchange membrane technology was confined to laboratories. The various encyclopedias of industrial technology have more up-to-date information, but they are necessarily limited in their scope. Schmittinger recently provided an excellent shorter treatment of the broad field of chlorine technology and applications. After discussing electrolysis and the principal types of cell, this, too, gives rather brief coverage to brine and product processing. It then follows on with descriptions of the major derivatives and direct uses of chlorine and a discussion of environmental issues.
The last feature named above has relieved the authors of this work of the obligation to cover applications in any detail. Instead, they provide a concentrated treatment of all aspects of technology and handling directly related to the products of electrolysis. It covers the field from a history of the industry, through the fundamentals of thermodynamics and electrochemistry, to the treatment and disposal of the waste products of manufacture. Membrane cells are considered the state of the art, but the book does not ignore mercury and diaphragm cells. They are considered both from a historical perspective and as examples of current technology that is still evolving and improving. Dear to the heart of a director of Euro Chlor, the book also pays special attention to safe handling of the products, the obligations of Responsible Care(R), and process safety management.
Other major topics include corrosion, membranes, electrolyzer design, brine preparation and treatment, and the design and operation of processing facilities. Perhaps uniquely, the book also includes a chapter on plant commissioning. The coverage of membranes is both fundamental and applied. The underlying transport processes and practical experience with existing types of membrane both are covered. The same is true of electrolyzer design. The book explores the basic electrode processes and the fundamentals of current distribution in electrolyzers as well as the characteristics of the leading cell designs. The authors have chosen to treat the critical subject of brine treatment in two separate chapters. The chapter on brine production and treatment first covers the sources of salt and the techniques used to prepare brine. It then explains the mechanisms by which brine impurities affect cell performance and outlines the processes by which they can be removed or controlled. While pointing out the lack of fundamental science in much of the process, it describes the various unit operations phenomenologically and discusses methods for sizing equipment and choosing materials of construction. The chapter on processing and handling of products is similarly comprehensive. Again, it is good to see that the authors have included a lengthy discussion of safe methods and facilities for the handling of the products, particularly liquid chlorine. While the discussion of the various processing steps includes the topic of process control, there is also a separate chapter on instrumentation which is more hardware-oriented.
Other chapters deal with utility systems, cell room design and arrangement (with an emphasis on direct current supply), alternative processes for the production of either chlorine or caustic without the other, the production of hypochlorite, industrial hygiene, and speculations on future developments in technology. There is an Appendix with selected physical property data.
The authors individually have extensive experience in chlor-alkali technology but with diverse backgrounds and fields of specialization. This allows them to achieve both the breadth and the depth which are offered here.
The work is divided into five volumes, successively treating fundamentals, brine preparation and treatment, production technology, support systems such as utilities and instrumentation, and ancillary topics. Anyone with interest in the large field of chlor-alkali manufacture and distribution, and indeed in industrial electrochemistry in general, will find something useful here. The work is recommended to students; chlor-alkali technologists; electrochemists; engineers; and producers, shippers, packagers, distributors, and consumers of chlorine, caustic soda, and caustic potash.
This book is thoroughly up to date and should become the standard reference in its field.
Barrie S. Gilliatt, Executive Director, Euro Chlor