The process chemistry start-up Chemetry will build a pilot plant for its novel—and potentially energy saving—ethylene dichloride (EDC) process at a facility in Maceió, Brazil, operated by Braskem. EDC is a precursor for polyvinyl chloride.
Chemetry’s technology, which it calls eShuttle, is a modification of the conventional chloralkali process, in which salt is separated in a two-compartment cell to yield caustic soda and chlorine gas. Firms then react the Cl2 with ethylene to form EDC. Instead, Chemetry adds another compartment with a membrane that allows chloride ions to pass through. These ions combine with cuprous chloride (CuCl) to form cupric chloride (CuCl2), which reacts with ethylene to form EDC.
“It takes much less energy to free up a chloride ion than it does to free the chlorine gas form,” says Robert Snyder, Chemetry’s chief strategy officer. The energy savings can be 25% over membrane-based Cl2 production, he says.
The eShuttle process won the Moss Landing, California-based company a small business award as part of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s 2018 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards.
Chemetry also wants to replace the chlorohydrin route to propylene oxide. The company says its process uses 60% less electricity than the chlorohydrin process and eliminates wastewater. Last November, the company partnered with the engineering firm TechnipFMC to market licenses for the process.
Snyder says the Brazilian plant will cost about $18 million to build and operate. He expects it to start up in the first half of 2022 and run for about a year. The company hopes that it will lead to licenses for the process thereafter.