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Sodium Carbonate

Soda Ash – Versatile, effective & environmentally friendly cleaning

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Sodium Carbonate also known as soda ash or washing soda, is a chemical compound with a wide range of applications. From cleaning and water softening to the food industry, sodium carbonate is an important substance with many practical applications.

Crystal Systems of Sodium Carbonate

Sodium carbonate (Na₂CO₃) can occur in seven different crystal structures. Each has a slightly different arrangement of atoms and molecules, which can result in different physical properties. Soda is one of these seven chemical forms of sodium carbonate. There is also anhydrous sodium carbonate (Na₂CO₃, Mineral: Natrite), sodium carbonate monohydrate (Na₂CO₃·H₂O, Mineral: Thermonatrite), sodium calcium carbonate dihydrate (Na₂Ca(CO₃)₂·2H₂O, Mineral: Pirssonite), sodium calcium carbonate pentahydrate (Na₂Ca(CO₃)₂·5H₂O, Mineral: Gaylussite), sodium carbonate heptahydrate (Na₂CO₃·7 H₂O) and sodium carbonate hydrogen carbonate dihydrate (Na(HCO₃)·Na₂CO₃·2H₂O, Mineral: Trona).


What is soda ash used for?

Soda ash is an indispensable part of our daily lives. From cleaning to manufacturing to environmental technology, soda ash is a versatile helper with a wide range of practical applications.

Soda ash is an effective and environmentally friendly cleaning agent that removes stubborn dirt, grease and stains from a wide variety of surfaces. Soda ash is used in many chemical processes, including the production of acids, alkalis and other chemical compounds. In the manufacture of soaps and detergents, soda is used as an alkali source to increase the cleaning power.

In the iron and glass industries, for example, it is used as a flux. Soda lowers the melting temperature of sand or quartz sand and other glass raw materials and promotes the formation of a homogeneous glass mass. This reduces melting time and makes glass production more economical. In the iron and steel industry, sodium carbonate is used as a flux in the melting of pig iron or in the production of steel.
It is used to desulfurize pig iron and remove impurities such as phosphorus, allowing iron or steel to be melted at lower temperatures, reducing energy consumption and making the process more efficient. In electroplating, sodium carbonate is used as an electrolyte component to coat or polish metals.

It is also used in exhaust gas purification (e.g. flue gas desulfurization) and water treatment. In water treatment, sodium carbonate is used to soften water by binding excess hardness builders such as calcium and magnesium ions. In addition, sodium carbonate is used in some environmental applications, such as treating contaminated soil and neutralizing acidic water.

Sodium carbonate is a component in the production of paper and paperboard, as it dissolves the cellulose and bleaches the paper fibers. It is also used in some paper and board recycling processes to remove ink and dye residues and prepare the paper for reuse.

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Various glass panes, laid on top of each other in a fan pattern
Liquid glass is poured into a mold
Flue gas desulphurization system

How is soda ash produced?

Soda ash is produced in several ways, but the two most common methods are the Solvay process and the trona ore process. Of the total production, 70-80% of soda ash is produced by the conversion of common salt (NaCl). The remaining 20-30% is extracted from naturally occurring soda deposits.

Trona Process

Trona is a natural mineral rich in sodium carbonate (Na₂CO₃) and sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO₃). It is formed by the evaporation of alkaline or salt lakes and is found in large quantities in some regions of the world. Trona is often used as a natural source of soda ash and is mined. To produce pure soda ash with sodium hydrogen carbonate (sodium bicarbonate) as an intermediate product, the mined deposits are recrystallized prior to further processing due to impurities in the source minerals and converted to purified soda ash free of crystalline water by calcination at 200°C.

Solvay Process

The Solvay process is the most widely used method for the industrial production of soda ash. In this multi-step process, the by-product sodium hydrogen carbonate is separated from an ammonium chloride solution and then calcined, i.e. heated at a high temperature (> 200°C). During this process, it decomposes into sodium carbonate (soda), releasing carbon dioxide and water. The sodium carbonate can be obtained as a powder by filtration, centrifugation and drying.

Diagram of the Solvay process for the production of sodium carbonate

Solvay process for the production of sodium carbonate

When are centrifuges used?

Our screen scroll centrifuges are used in the extraction of soda from natural deposits as well as in chemical processes to separate solids after washing and crystallization.

Criteria for selecting the type of centrifuge

Advantages of a screen scroll centrifuge

  • Processing of suspensions even with low solids concentration
  • Less sensitive to frequent variations in feed concentration during solids separation
  • High G-count and spontaneous dewatering provide low residual moisture
Plant image: SIEBTECHNIK TEMA sieve screw centrifuge type CONTURBEX and a fluidized bed dryer from TEMA Process
CONTURBEX sieve screw centrifuge-for sodium carbonate or soda ash
CONTURBEX sieve screw centrifuge-for sodium carbonate or soda ash
CONTURBEX sieve screw centrifuge-for sodium carbonate or soda ash

Wear Protection

SIEBTECHNIK TEMA centrifuges are specially optimized for the respective separation task. When selecting materials, austenitic and ferritic stainless steels have proven themselves in centrifuge construction for applications subject to normal stresses.

For processes in which abrasive materials are processed, the centrifuges must be provided with effective wear protection. Starting with hard coal processing, we have been continuously developing wear protection systems since 1922.

Our centrifuges can be equipped with highly developed wear protection systems made of e.g. tungsten carbide, Stellite® or ceramic tiles, to name but a few. Rubber coatings or matrix coatings have also proven themselves in various applications.

If required, our engineers develop new and efficient solutions in coating, bonding and joining technology for our customers worldwide.

Centrifuge Components Materials

Centrifuge components must not only withstand high forces, but also process-related stresses such as corrosion, wear and high temperatures. Cost and availability of materials also play an important role. Our customers select the necessary product-contacting materials according to these very specific requirements.

Duplex and high-alloy stainless steels, Hastelloy® and titanium materials for a wide variety of processes and stresses are part of our daily business in centrifuge construction. Our quality management has developed very detailed and cost effective processes for design, manufacturing processes and component testing based on European guidelines.

Typical sheet metal and forging materials for centrifuge wetted components include

  • EN 1.4404 / AISI 316L
  • EN 1.4571 / AISI 316Ti
  • EN 1.4462 / AISI 318LN / Duplex
  • EN 1.4410 / AISI F53 / Super Duplex
  • Lean Duplex
  • EN 1.4539 / AISI 904L
  • EN 1.4547 / 254SMO®
  • EN 1.4529 / AISI 926
  • EN 2.4819 / INCONEL® Alloy C-276
  • EN 2.4602 / Hastelloy® C22
  • EN 2.4610 / Hastelloy® C4
  • EN 3.7035 / Ti-II / Titan 994-Ti-grade 2
  • EN 3.7235 / Ti-IIPd / Titan 994 Pd-Ti-grade 7
  • and their casting materials
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