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Niche Market

Anhydrous HCl Has Supply Problems As Well

by Michael McCoy
February 6, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 6

With the opening of a new plant later this year, a small corner of the hydrochloric acid business can breathe a sigh of relief about supply.

In June, the Hydrochlor joint venture between Air Products & Chemicals and Linde will start up a high-purity anhydrous hydrogen chloride (AHCl) gas facility at Dow Chemical’s Freeport, Texas, location. The plant will repackage AHCl that Dow generates during production of chlorine-based chemicals.

The joint venture will sell AHCl to the two industrial gas companies, which will separately ship it to customers in truck-transported tube trailers. Until the facility opens, Dow will supply AHCl to Air Products at its Hometown, Pa., facility and to Linde at its Lovington, N.M., location.

The joint venture is a belated response to Dow’s 2006 announcement that it would cease rail shipment of AHCl in order to reduce the risks involved in the transport of highly hazardous materials. Dow was forced to delay its exit for several years as various alternative supply arrangements failed to get off the ground.

A new company, HCL Innovations, was the first to come up with a viable plan. In December 2009 it opened a facility at Formosa Plastics’ Baton Rouge, La., complex, allowing it to load AHCl into tube trailers for shipment to customers. Formosa generates AHCl during polyvinyl chloride production at the site.

But some AHCl users in industries such as electronics and pharmaceuticals still wanted the Dow product. In announcing the Hydrochlor venture last year, Cliff Caldwell, vice president of electronics and specialty gases for Linde North America, acknowledged customer worries.

“There have been concerns regarding the continuity of supply for high-purity HCl into the merchant market for some time,” he said. “This new production and filling plant will finally put these concerns to rest.”



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