Chlorine is a highly reactive chemical element which readily combines with other atoms to produce compounds with many practical uses. Commonly found combined with sodium as salt (NaCl), additional processes are used to produce sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) which is used in drinking water and swimming pool sanitization. While these applications might be the most familiar, the predominant uses of chlorine are in the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and solvents used in dry cleaning. To facilitate such high demand for chlorine, the United States uses an industrial method of making chlorine to produce 14 million tons annually. The manufacture of chlorine from brine, a carefully treated solution of salt water, is one of the primary methods used in the chlorine production process.
How Chlorine is produced
The chlorine production process through the electrolysis of brine is called the chlor-alkali process. This industrial method of making chlorine uses two electrodes in a brine solution with a voltage applied between them. This process passes an electrical current through the brine and draws ions in the solution to the positive and negative terminals. The electrolysis of brine separates the salt water solution through a porous membrane resulting in the negative anode drawing the positively charged chlorine ions to it while the positive cathode collects the negatively charged hydrogen ions found in the water. The remaining liquid solution then becomes the alkali, sodium hydroxide (NaOH), which also has many industrial uses as caustic soda. The use of a diaphragm or ion exchange membrane maintains the cathode and anode separated so that their ions do not recombine into sodium hypochlorite. These separate constituents are then collected and then stored for use as necessary.
Due to chlorine being produced in the chlor-alkali process is less than half of the sodium hydroxide produced, the chlorine production industry requires large quantities or brine to meet consumer demands. Additionally, the brine required for the process must be specially treated and requires precise levels of saturation and purity. To this end, the chlor-alkali industry relies heavily on the brine production industry.
Texas Brine Company - Largest Independent Brine Producer
The largest independent brine producer in the United States is Texas Brine Company LLC, supplying thirty-percent of the chlor-alkali industry's brine requirements. Our brine is produced through a process called solution mining. Texas Brine Company LLC mines salt-rich underground caverns before using controlled methods to pump them full of fresh water. The water mixes with the salt in the caverns to create a brine solution. Pumps bring the brine to the surface where it can be treated and used in the chlor-alkali process. After completion, the extensive network of underground caverns created by the process is used for the safe storage of liquids, gases, and crude oil. Texas Brine Company provides extensive safety training and is committed to providing a safe working environment for its employees. As a member of the American Chemistry Council, our company emphasizes community involvement and awareness through the Responsible Care® program which has set the chemical industry's standard for environmental concerns, safety, and health for over thirty years.