PPG to install membrane technology, eliminate mercury use at Lake Charles, La.

PPG Industries will install membrane cell technology for the manufacture of chlor-alkali products at its chemicals plant in Lake Charles, La., replacing the facility's mercury cells by mid-2007...

Aug 5th, 2005

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 4, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- PPG Industries will install membrane cell technology for the manufacture of chlor-alkali products at its chemicals plant in Lake Charles, La., replacing the facility's mercury cells by mid-2007, company officials announced this afternoon.

"Today's announcement represents a significant investment in the sustainability and competitiveness of our largest chemicals plant," said Michael McGarry, vice president, chlor-alkali and derivatives. "Discontinuing the use of mercury at Lake Charles is in line with our company's goal of continually improving our environmental performance. In addition, this project will result in ongoing cost savings for PPG while enabling us to continue providing customers with premium-grade caustic soda."

McGarry said membrane technology uses about 25% less electricity than mercury cells. In addition, he said membrane technology reduces maintenance and operating costs.

"Membrane technology will ensure our Lake Charles facility remains a major chlorine producer, maintaining our leadership position in the chlor-alkali industry," said McGarry, who added the project will cost an average of more than $30 million per year for three years.

McGarry said the membrane unit will have essentially the same capacity as the mercury unit, which is approximately 275,000 tons per year. In addition to the mercury cell circuit, PPG operates six diaphragm cell circuits at Lake Charles, with a capacity of about 1.1 million tons per year.

Pittsburgh-based PPG (www.ppg.com) is a world leader in production of chlorine, caustic soda and related chemicals for use in chemical manufacturing, pulp and paper production, water treatment, plastics production and many other products. The company also produces specialty chemicals as well as coatings, glass and fiber glass for global markets. Sales were $9.5 billion in 2004.

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