Making green choices
Tata Chemicals Europe is continuously
improving its manufacturing processes to become more energy
efficient and climate sensitive
At Tata Chemicals Europe (TCE), the
UK arm of Tata Chemicals, efforts to cut greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions began way back in 2000 when the company commissioned
a gas-fired combined heat and power plant (CHP) at its Northwich
West site. The plant, set up at a cost of £150 million,
marks the beginning of a series of decisions that have helped
TCE grow without adding to the emissions trail.
Over the past decade or so, the company has relied increasingly
on clean fuel and alternative energy to run its plants.
It has built up a portfolio of products that help customers
control their carbon emissions, and in the pipeline is a £300
million sustainable energy plant that will be fuelled by
waste and biomass. All of this has made TCE an
important player in Europes carbon reduction journey
and invaluable to the overall Tata Chemicals climate
change programme. Its story is about how a few well-deliberated
measures can make a big impact on the environment.
TCE is one of the worlds leading manufacturers
and suppliers of sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate and
associated alkaline products. It produces around one million
tonnes of its primary product sodium carbonate or
soda ash each
year. With more than 1,500 customers worldwide including
glass makers, bath additive producers, sugar extractors
and suppliers of haemodialysis treatments, TCE
reaches out to a diverse set of businesses and people. By
choosing to be ecologically sensitive in the way it manufactures
these products, it indirectly influences its customers to
behave in the same manner. Besides, its products are used
to make solar panels and glass, which is used in green buildings,
thereby helping support a green way of life.
TCE's production processes are energy-intensive and require
a large amount of steam. Every year 2.5TWh (2.5 million megawatt
hours) of heat energy is required to run the business. By
switching to alternative energy sources and making the production
process itself more energy efficient, the company has been
able to significantly bring down its GHG emissions.
The main change has been switching from coal to a gas-fired
CHP in 2000. More recently a new decarbonator was commissioned
at the same site. Designed in-house, the new unit has cut
the energy used in the sodium bicarbonate production process
by 5 per cent.
TCE has also made the production processes more
energy efficient through the use of improved distributed
control systems and energy-efficient distillation columns.
Distributed control systems helps monitor the steam usage
and distillation columns, required to separate the ammonia
from the liquor by injection of steam into the column, help
control its usage. The two together help cut down the energy
used in the process.
The UK government has set itself a target of 80 per
cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 and is promoting
waste-fuelled power plants as an important means of
reaching these targets.
TCE has proposed setting up a sustainable
energy plant which will go a long way in meeting these
targets. The plant is being developed in alliance
with E.ON, a company with a strong track record of
developing, building and operating sustainable energy
plants to the highest technical and environmental
It will be built on the site of a disused coal-fired
power station at Northwich East and will use approximately
600,000 tonnes of fuel per year to produce up to 60MW
of electricity and around 100 tonnes per hour of steam.
The facility will be regulated and monitored by the
Environment Agency to ensure that it operates in accordance
with strict legislation and environmental standards.
It will use solid fuel made from waste materials that
would otherwise go to landfill. Through the energy
recovery process, these materials will be treated
to produce clean, sustainable power.
TCE plans to build a sustainable energy plant
at its Northwich East site, which will turn pre-treated
waste into electricity and steam (see box: Sustainable
energy). The plant will save approximately 200kt per year
of CO2 and will result in the company having one of the
lowest carbon footprints, lower than that of any ash producer,
natural or synthetic, in the world. Expected to be ready
by 2015, at an investment of £300
million, the plant will:
||Cut CO2 emissions by switching to a non-fossil fuel
||Cut methane emissions by burning waste to recover energy
instead of burying in a landfill site.
||Meet a third of the companys high energy requirements,
lower costs and help secure the future of the TCE
business by making it less reliant on gas supplies.
The sustainable energy plant will supply renewable heat
and electricity (see box: What is renewable energy) for both
sites in Northwich. And in the years to come, it will not
only help the environment at large but also make TCE
among the worlds
most competitive soda ash producers in the world.
Dr Ladan Iravanian
Business development director, Tata Chemicals Europe
Sourced from Quest, Volume 5 , November 2010, in-house
Publication of Tata Quality Management Systems.