Sustainability is more than a buzzword; it is an acknowledgment of the responsibility of individuals and organizations to meet the needs of our society in a way that will ensure the long-term health of our planet. There is no single solution to this problem but rather it will take millions of positive choices that bring us closer to our goals.

Sustainability in the fine chemical industry

The fine chemical industry provides key intermediates and active ingredients that help make our modern world possible. As a critical part of the supply chain in modern technology, it is imperative that the fine chemical industry use production practices that support sustainability goals. Turning waste products into co-products is one way fine chemical companies can do this. An example of this is the capture of the hydrogen by-product from manufacturing processes such as chlor-alkali electrolysis.

Green hydrogen, a key part of a sustainable future

Hydrogen is an efficient, clean energy source that produces benign emissions. However, part of the reason for its slow uptake includes poor transportability and its relatively energy-intensive production. The goal of green hydrogen is to produce the maximum amount of hydrogen with the least amount of carbon emissions.

Private-public partnerships have become a key part of the drive for carbon neutrality and sustainability across Europe – and indeed the world. Green hydrogen can be an important part of these partnerships. For example, the European sustainability funding, currently estimated in the region of $36 billion USD, includes funding to support green hydrogen in hopes of decreasing production costs and promoting a greater economy of scale. This creates a win-win for complementary industries of manufacturing and mobility to leverage the full capabilities of green hydrogen.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Australia has emerged as the frontrunner in green hydrogen projects. Toyota is among those pushing advanced stage hydrogen developments, with a new commercial-grade permanent hydrogen production, storage, and refueling facility at a former manufacturing site in Victoria. The auto-engineering company has adopted a stance of delivering the right vehicles at the right place and time, offering a wide range of electric and plug-in electric hybrid vehicles (EVs and PHEVs). This move shows the increasing economic viability of hydrogen fuel cell technology and the fact that the time is right for green hydrogen technologies in mobility.

Can chlor-alkali electrolysis be a sustainable source of green hydrogen?

Chlor-alkali electrolysis is a process used by fine chemicals manufacturers to generate chlorine in large commercial quantities Chlorine gas is derived from brine solutions via cathodic reactions, yielding caustic soda and hydrogen as by-products. As much as 0.27 million tons of hydrogen is generated by the Chlor-alkali sector every year, and it is typically of the highest purity.

In addition to being a co-product that is already being produced, the production of hydrogen via chlor-alkali is more energy-efficient than standard hydrogen production methods. Water electrolyzers consume 60kWh per kilogram of hydrogen produced. Fine chemicals manufacturers can obtain a kilogram of hydrogen from chlor-alkali production with just 1.3 kWh of electricity. This means you can greatly reduce carbon emissions without having to use more expensive reusable energy sources. Also, since it is a co-product, it creates greater efficiencies in the fine chemical manufacturing process as a whole.

Chlor-alkali electrolysis with CABB

CABB is a world leader in chlor-alkali electrolysis, with extensive experience in fine chemicals synthesis for competitive and emerging markets. CABB is also dedicated towards greater sustainability. If you would like to learn more about partnering with CABB for your sustainable fine chemical sourcing needs, contact a member of the team today.