Hydrogen chloride (HCl) is an important industrial acid in Western Australia used in a broad range of resource developing industries. It is traditionally produced by reacting sodium chloride (common salt) with sulfuric acid and produced by chloralkali plants where there is surplus chlorine or if favoured by the economics of the region.
The chlorine used in the titanium dioxide pigment plants results in nearly all being converted to hydrochloric acid. About 40 000 tonnes of hydrochloric acid is produced by the two plants at a concentration of about 30 per cent (commercial grade is 33 per cent). Though of high concentration, the acid contains inorganic impurities such as silicates which render it unsuitable for many applications. Some hydrochloric acid is used but most is neutralised with lime to produce about 10 000 tonnes of calcium chloride at each plant that is either washed to sea as a non-polluting dilute effluent (by Tiwest), or stored in settling tanks pending disposal (by SCM).
Nufarm, Coogee and CSBP both manufacture hydrochloric acid at their chloralkali plants by direct synthesis from hydrogen and chlorine, (previously producing it by the chemical reaction of sodium chloride with sulfuric acid). Local demand and production patterns favour this inherently more expensive route.
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