Covestro successfully starts up a new world-scale chlorine plant in Tarragona

Covestro has successfully started up a new world-scale facility for the production of chlorine in Tarragona, Spain. It is the first world-scale production plant for chlorine based upon the highly innovative and energy efficient ODC (oxygen depolarized cathode) technology invented by Covestro and its partners. The new plant ensures an efficient, sustainable and independent supply of chlorine and caustic soda to MDI production in Tarragona.

This will strengthen the European production network for MDI – a precursor for the manufacture of rigid polyurethane foam used to insulate refrigeration appliances and buildings. The 200 MEUR investment has created 50 new jobs on site.

The new chlorine facility is the first industrial-scale plant in the world to use ODC, the innovative oxygen depolarized cathode technology which has been developed by Covestro in collaboration with ThyssenKrupp Nucera.

Compared to the currently predominant conventional chlor-alkali electrolysis, the new process requires a lower voltage, which results in energy savings of up to 25 percent. At the new plant in Tarragona, this can avoid up to 22,000 metric tons of CO2
emissions per year compared with existing processes – based on the energy mix at the start of construction planning in 2018. The new plant will thus make an important contribution to Covestro’s goal of being operationally climate-neutral by 2035.

The chlorine is used on site as a raw material for the production of MDI, a precursor for the manufacture of rigid polyurethane foams as used for producing energy-efficient insulation solutions for buildings and refrigerating devices. In 2019, the global MDI market had a volume of around 7,500 kilotons and is expected to further grow in the long term. In addition to chlorine, the plant will also produce caustic soda for the Iberian and European markets. Both chlorine and caustic soda are two indispensable basic chemicals for the chemical industry, and are also key raw materials for many other strategic sectors.