London -- Mitsui & Co. Ltd and Dow Chemical Company Co. are to form a 50:50 joint venture to build and operate a new chloralkali facility in Freeport, Texas. Mitsui's 1 July announcement said it will investment about $140 million in this project, and it is in discussions to arrange the finance.
The joint venture needs regulatory approval, and the partners aim to complete the deal by the end of August 2010, with the new unit starting up in mid-2013, Mitsui said.
Caustic soda and chlorine are basic raw materials of various chemical products and processes, produced through electrolysis of brine. Mitsui notes the "highly-advanced and world-scale membrane chloralkali facility in the new joint venture will fulfill stable and competitive production of caustic soda (about 880 kilotonnes per annum, ktpa) and chlorine (about 800 ktpa).
Currently Mitsui sells chlorine derivatives around the world and for ethylene dichloride (EDC) Mitsui is one of the largest producers. Dow will convert chlorine from the new JV to EDC in a tolling conversion arrangement, which will enhance Mitsui's stable supply of caustic soda and EDC to the marketplace, the company said.
In April 2009, Mitsui said, it set up a new Chlor-Alkali Division consolidating all of its chloralkali related businesses such as salt, alkali products, EDC and vinyl chloride monomer, polyvinyl chloride resin, and polyurethane raw materials. The aim was to "create synergy among them and deliver further value to our customers," Mitsui said.
The chart shows the relationship via raw materials of these businesses, with chlorine from the chloralkali process being used in the phosgenation process to make isocyanates.