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The #1 Address for Caustic Soda

tkIS India - Pre-Eminence in Caustic Soda

Mercury rising - The early days

In the seventies, much before Membrane Cell technology for the Caustic Soda industry changed the electrolysis landscape, we first installed the thyssenkrupp - Uhde mercury cells in Standard Alkali in Thane Belapur, in Maharashtra, who was at that time one of the leading caustic soda producers in India. The cells involved a high current density, the kind of which would be unimaginable today. The year was 1972, and we were still a branch office of the former Uhde GmbH. Then came Travancore Cochin Chemicals who entrusted us with the design and implementation of their Mercury Cell plant. Punjab Alkalies & Chemicals came next.

There were challenges galore, many of which related to the nascent stage of the industry then. Severe corrosive conditions associated with manufacture of Caustic & Chlorine demanded special and highly corrosion-resistant materials.  Thousands of components required in assembling a Mercury cell required manufacturing precision to ensure leakproofness. These were not available in the country then.

We took up the challenge of developing Indian suppliers for the various parts. It called for painstaking efforts, but such was the diligence demonstrated that by the time the grassroots Mercury Cell plant of Gujarat Alkalies & Chemicals was constructed in 1976 in Vadodara, only a very few components were required to be imported. Various energy saving measures were incorporated in the plants. Major among them being introduction of metal anodes with automatic current control and anolyte re-circulation system.  Minimizing mercury losses was of paramount importance in the design of these plants from environmental considerations.

Mercury to Membrane

The engineering expertise needed for design and construction of Caustic-Chlorine plants was also simultaneously indigenized through transfer of technology.  All the subsequent plants of Kothari, Atul, Modi Chemicals and Punjab Alkalies & Chemicals were designed and constructed independently by tkIS India (then Uhde India).

Thus, in the mid-eighties, with the successful transfer of thyssenkrupp’s Caustic Soda Membrane Cell technology to India, Uhde India (tkIS India) – the group’s Indian company, began its journey to the top of the Caustic Soda – Chlorine field in India.

The market for Caustic Soda was typically buoyant; with a growing population, the need for a variety of  products like plastics, water purification, paper, aluminium etc utilizing the building block material, was also growing. As a consequence of this, the market witnessed a number of new players from the private sector, eager to set up Caustic Soda plants.

And so was set the stage for the Zero-gap, low opex Membrane Cell technology of thyssenkrupp/Uhde.

tkIS India Projects

Jayshree Chemicals (Aditya Birla Company)

Caustic Soda-Chlorine Conversion to Membrane Cell project

DCW

Caustic Soda-Chlorine Conversion to Membrane Cell Project/Expansion Project

When Membranes and more…

our successful efforts with Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Limited to adopt the new Membrane Cell technology resulted in a project to convert their Mercury cell plant in Vadodara, the stage was set for Uhde India to engage in a series of conversion projects for the Who’s Who across India, and thereby help Customers achieve a significantly reduced power consumption in their power-hungry plants, and consequently lower operating costs.

With other benefits like long life membranes, reduced carbon emissions, adaptability of the technology in existing plants built based on other technologies, higher onstream factor, faster trouble-shooting and above all, a totally fail safe and highly environmentally friendly technology, in modern day parlance “A Green technology ahead of its times”. tkIS India with the support of the parent company, soon earned the status of being the leader amongst the  Caustic Soda- Chlorine technology licensing and consulting companies in India.

What followed were three decades of numerous projects covering grass root plants, revamps, capacity enhancements, conversions and supply of electrolysers. Along the way, customers benefitted from improvements in the BM Electrolyser technology, as they invested in newer generations of Cell elements, to further improve on their savings in terms of reduced operating costs, optimized capex and reduced carbon footprint.

As our R&D initiatives in Germany bore fruit, our customers in India now had the advantage of other benefits from an ever-expanding basket of services – production of Caustic Soda using NaCl -ODC technology, and by-product utilization through recovery of Chlorine from Hydrochloric Acid, to name just a few.

thyssenkrupp Industrial Solution India (Uhde India) continues to maintain the pole position in the field with approximately 3.5 million tonnes from plants built in India, accounting for over 75% of the India market share. It remains the only ‘under-one-roof’ licensing and consulting company in India for all engineering services for caustic soda / chlorine plants, and continues to enjoy the trust of the Caustic Soda customers in India, whose success stories in the field are intertwined with our own.

Analysing the lead position

  • Amongst the first Indian companies to be granted permission from the Indian Government for transfer of technology from Germany to India (way back in 1974 !! The era of the “License Raj!”)

  • Strong initiative on behalf of group company to transfer benefits of latest technology advancements to Indian customers.

  • Continuous sharing of knowledge with customers across various forums including Caustic Soda-Chlorine Symposiums in Germany and India

  • Close and continuous Industry interactions aimed at maintaining a close interactive communication with customers at all levels

  • Intensive sustained efforts to obtain, assimilate and utilize operating feedback from customers on their plants

  • Symbiotic relationship with Indian customers and establishment of ‘local’ point of contact / solutions for ‘under-one-roof’ solutions

  • Comprehensive service portfolio ranging from technology, upgrades, revamps, refurbishments and after sales, with focus on innovations

  • Creation of a versatile Process engineering group with dedicated pool of  Caustic Soda/chlorine engineering experts

  • Detailed analyses of plant sections and adoption of various energy conservation and environmental measures

  • Strong intent on our part to indigenize content for plants in India and optimize plants to Indian conditions, thereby conferring benefits to customers

  • State-of-the-art plants / sustainable solutions with emphasis on cutting-edge technology, long life, superior yield, low opex and high degree of environmental considerations

  • Integration of tkIS India by tkIS / tkUCE, Germany on their mega Caustic Soda projects worldwide, with almost complete engagement from our offices for Basic and Detail Engineering services

  • Systematic entrusting of responsibility to tkIS India to handle projects independently

  • Close cooperation with tkIS / tkUCE Germany and with membrane suppliers, fabricators and electrode coating companies to ensure smooth business operations in India & high caliber uninterrupted services to our customers

Group Projects

Tesenderlo Chemie, Belgium

Caustic Soda-Chlorine Conversion to Membrane Cell Project

Qatar Vinyl Corporation, Qatar

Integrated Grassroot Caustic Soda-Chlorine | EDC-VCM Complex

Norsk Hydro, Norway

Caustic Soda-Chlorine Grassroot Plant

Anwil, Poland

Caustic Soda-Chlorine Conversion to Membrane Cell Project

Vestolit, Germany

Caustic Soda-Chlorine Conversion to Membrane Cell

Deep dives…

  • The Brine treatment methods were adopted considering sea salt from India.

  • Indigenous manufacturers were developed for plastic materials like PP, PVDF, PVC lined and FRP, Titanium and Nickel equipment and Piping to withstand highly corrosive mediums at high temperature. 

  • Indian vendors were developed to avoid costly imports.

  • Post-commissioning contact continues on an ongoing basis via our 360° lifecycle services

  • Continual plant operating feedback from customers integrated into exhaustive databases for future use

  • Helplines for problem tackling open on a round-the-clock round-the-year basis for all operating plants

  • Regular technical audits are performed on all plants

  • Proper revamp concepts incorporating utilization of complete margins in every equipment, while ensuring minimum shut down of running plant.

  • Ongoing outreach to customers to suggest further improvements via technology upgrades in existing plants or expansions using the latest energy-saving cell elements

  • Utmost attention to safety with emphasis on zero accident / lost time hours

Doing things differently - The NaCl ODC Technology

In 2013, our esteemed customer Grasim Industries agreed to set up a demonstration facility for production of Caustic Soda using the NaCl ODC Technology, which reduces power consumption by a whopping 30% compared to our conventional membrane cell technology at their Nagda facility. The facility is operating successfully.

Landmark Projects

Grasim Industries, India

Caustic Soda Complex at Nagda

Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals, India

Caustic Soda Complexes at Vadodara & Dahej, Gujarat, India

Key Papers by Our Experts at Industry Forums

  • New Developments in O&M of Membrane Cell Plants with Energy Saving & Management in Chlor-Alkali Sector: N Ranga Rao

  • Automation & Controls to optimise the operations and Safety in chlor-alkali industry: Sanjay Vyas

  • Safety, Health & Environment and Waste Management in Alkali Industry: P Maiti

  • New Developments in O&M of Membrane Cell Plants with Energy Saving & Management in Chlor-Alkali Sector: N Ranga Rao

Our Association with the Aditya Birla GroupIndia’s largest Caustic Soda manufacturer

We first got associated with thyssenkrupp – then Uhde – when they built for us a plant for manufacturing Caustic Soda Plant based on Mercury Cell based Technology way back in 1976. The Mercury Cell technology was the most prominent  route to manufacture Caustic Soda at the time, and we adopted it for our complex at Vadodara. Uhde, then developed their Membrane Cell technology, which we, as leaders in the field, absorbed considering the benefits of reduced power consumption, reduced emissions, especially the mercury, and the long life of the electrodes and membranes. thyssenkrupp has an impressive basket of services for the chlor-alkali industry, for which we have closely worked with them over years, including replacement of relatively old generation cell elements with higher generation cell elements, recoating of electrodes etc. Our plants are operating successfully to expected parameters. We see thyssenkrupp as a very cooperative and accommodating partner, working very diligently to our requests for support, as and when necessary. Our teams enjoy a good synergy and understanding with thyssenkrupp, which we look forward to continuing in future for mutual benefits.

M.B.Shah - AGM (CPP) & Head PMO, Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Limited, Gujarat, India
The key incentive for our customers has been the immense benefits accruing from use of the technology, mainly in the nature of power consumption, and the consequent reduction in operating expense outlays. Every new version of our Cells comes with new highs in savings in power. Caustic soda-chlorine is an operating cost-intensive industry. However, there are many other benefits including flexibility of working on plants based on other technologies, reduced emissions, scalability of plant to account for expansions, and a basket of services for a variety of purposes including alternate ways of manufacture of Caustic Soda and recovery of by-product generated. Aside from this, our success story is also the result of other equally important factors – the trust of our customers, the vision and support of our group company, our unceasing efforts at customer service, and finally plants that stand out for their yield, economical process, low opex, flexible design, longevity and environmental considerations.
JP Soni
Head - Process
It is a matter of pride to say that thyssenkrupp / Uhde is associated with all the leaders in the Caustic Chlorine industry in India. For me, this is a clearly a reciprocation of the efforts we have invested in helping them meet their project plans through the years. Over the years, we have endeavoured to ensure they received the benefits of our technology and engineering and plant implementation, as well as experienced our readiness to support them, not only at their request ,but also proactively. With their success, we have grown as well, and for this, we are appreciative of their support, trust and willingness to work together. Equally supportive has been our parent company who have equipped us adequately with the technology and working methods. Our record speaks for itself. Almost 3.5 million tonnes from the plants we have built in India using the membrane cell technology, representing 75% plus of the domestic market share. We are proud of our resource bank of experts, the R&D we carry out both here and in Germany, our vast portfolio and single-point solutions to ensure our customer’s investment yields optimum results
PV Chepe
Chief Eng Officer & ED- Engineering