Travancore-Cochin Chemicals Limited (TCC) is set for a major boost in technology acquisition and application in its manufacturing process. The Kochi-based State public sector unit has readied a plant to produce sodium chlorate, a raw material for the manufacture of ammonium perchlorate to be used in fuel propulsion system of rockets to be deployed by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC). The plant is slated for commissioning on Saturday.
Trials done at the plant at Udyogamandal were successful, N.R. Subrahmanian, managing director, TCC, told The Hindu.
Constructed at a cost of Rs.23 crore, the plant will produce five tonnes of sodium chlorate per day which will be fully absorbed by the VSSC’s ammonium percholrate experimental plant at Aluva.
The TCC’s triumph in producing chemical products of high-end quality would enable it to execute more top-class projects in the future, Mr. Subrahmaniam said. The company was in a position to expand the sodium chlorate manufacturing capacity, if required by the VSSC, he said. The company’s victory could herald a new era of getting projects from the VSSC or other agencies to manufacture high-class products in the chlor-alkali sector.
The ammonium perchlorate experimental plant at Aluva, established three decades ago, has been importing sodium chlorate for its needs. The availability of the product of required quality locally will benefit the VSSC in timely execution of its projects.
The TCC, on the other hand, is looking towards more high-end projects as the present job does not mean monetary advantage for the public sector unit. The VSSC will bear the cost of production and the TCC will be getting an additional amount for the manufacturing operations. The plant itself was set up by means of VSSC funds.
“The local procurement of sodium chlorate will enable the country to save precious foreign exchange”, a senior official of the experimental plant said.
“Sodium chlorate is converted into sodium perchlorate at the experimental plant before making ammonium perchlorate which is used as an oxidizer in solid propellants. (The propellant consists of oxidizer and fuel). The 5 tpd (tonnes per day) of sodium chlorate produced at TCC will be sufficient for operations of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in the next five to seven years,” the official said.
Production of sodium chlorate through electrolysis involves high expenditure on account of the large quantity of energy required for the operation. Many of the units producing sodium chlorate in India had gone out of business and the ISRO had to depend on foreign markets, the official said.
The space agency had entrusted the project with the TCC because of the latter’s proven expertise in the field. The VSSC requires regular supply of high-quality sodium chlorate for production of ammonium perchlorate. The quality of ultra-purified sodium chlorate (IS 5301/1987) produced at TCC is of international standards, he said.
The TCC, commissioned five decades ago, has an installed capacity of 175 tpd of caustic soda, 72 tpd of liquid chlorine and 350 tpd of hydrochloric acid. The company aims at expanding capacity of caustic soda plant to produce 400 tpd to achieve economies of scale, but faces financial constraints.