CABB Group inaugurates new electrolysis plant
Fine chemical manufacturer CABB has replaced the amalgam electrolysis plant for chlorine production at its Pratteln site in Switzerland with a plant using the latest generation of membrane technology. The new plant, which entered operation in October, consumes around a third less energy per metric ton of caustic soda than its predecessor. Mercury is also no longer required. The manufacturing process is automatically controlled, with over 1,000 test points.
Two electrolyzers, each with 131 6th-generation single-element cells from ThyssenKrupp Uhde Chlorine Engineers, form the centerpiece of the plant. Featuring zero-gap technology – meaning there is no gap between the membrane and the electrodes – the cells are the most energy-efficient solution currently available on the market.
“At around €50 million, the new electrolysis plant is the CABB Group’s largest single investment so far worldwide,” says CEO Peter Vanacker. "This is another step in strategically transforming the site from its original purpose of basic chemical production into a leading technology center for high-quality fine chemicals.”
No more chlorine transports
CABB is the only company in Switzerland that produces its own chlorine. Salt, a key raw material, is provided by a conveyor belt direct from the neighboring saltworks. The new plant increases annual chlorine production capacity from 27,000 to 47,000 metric tons, enough to fully meet the site’s demands – all but eliminating the need for chlorine transports.
Chlorine forms part of many of the compounds that CABB produces in Pratteln as intermediates for the agricultural, pharmaceutical and specialty chemicals industry, among others. “The new membrane electrolysis plant makes our chlorine production significantly safer, more eco-friendly and more efficient,” says Peter Vanacker.
The plant was designed in partnership with ThyssenKrupp Uhde Chlorine Engineers. At times, over 70 engineers were involved on both sides. At CABB, this major project was managed by a five-person all-female team led by chemical engineer Christine Sutter.