Glass act


Glass act

Soda ash is an essential raw material in the making of glass, that ubiquitous feature of modern life. Tata Chemicals is India's largest manufacturer of this basic industrial chemical.

The jug you drink water out of, the crystal that graces your dining table, the bottle you sip soda from are all made of glass, that ubiquitous feature of modern life. Soda ash is an essential raw material in the making of glass, and Tata Chemicals Limited (TCL) is India's largest manufacturer of this basic industrial chemical.

Soda ash is the trade name for sodium carbonate and Tata Chemicals produces four categories of this vital alkali: light soda ash, dense soda ash, medium dense soda ash and granular soda ash. TCL's soda ash is as basic to the inorganic chemical industry as steel is to the engineering industry.

Cutting-edge operations

TCL's soda ash plant, which started operations in 1939, utilises the conventional ammonia-soda process technology. TCL is one of the largest producers of synthetic soda ash in the world, accounting for as much as 35 percent of the total production in India. Over the years, the manufacturing capacity of TCL's soda ash plant has increased from 40 tonnes per day to the current level of 2,500 tonnes per day.

At TCL, we are committed to ensuring quality through compliance to international standards across various functions, such as:

  •  Conversion efficiency
  • Captive availability of key raw materials
  • Innovative techniques of water management
  • Simultaneous production of vacuum salt
  • Self-reliance in most raw materials
  • Simultaneous generation of captive steam and power
  • Total energy concept with high thermal efficiency and plant availability
  • Energy balance

TCL's cost-effective and integrated operations and additions to capacities give it the competitive edge.

Reaching out
The TCL soda ash plant is equipped with modern facilities to customise products to any size distribution. Its thrust is on continuous improvement of the product specifications to suit the customer's requirement better. The company's new colour-coded soda ash bags are easily identifiable and aesthetically appealing.

North Indian states lead the market share of TCL soda ash with a whopping 30 percent of the total sales. The light soda ash variant alone accounts for 70 percent of the total sales. The company's chief export markets are Bangladesh, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

Particle-sizing and the density of raw materials used are critical to the final product's desired properties in the glass industry. Soda ash reduces the melting temperature of the sand used in a glass formulation and the alkali helps in the 'workability' or forming of the glass particle.

TCL's high-purity soda ash gives clarity, viscosity and chemical control, qualities required in the high-speed processes to manufacture food and drink containers as well as in the manufacture of float glass.

Glass tableware manufacturers too prefer the quality of TCL's soda ash for its clarity. The low chloride levels offered by TCL soda ash help preserve furnace life and are, therefore, critical in the manufacture of tableware as well as float glass. The viscosity of TCL's soda ash helps control thickness variations in the manufacture of float glass, which is used in construction, automobile production and other glass applications such as thermal and sound insulation.

Uniformity, consistency and minimal distortion are vital when producing television tubes and light bulbs. Glass is but one of a wide variety of industries that uses the soda ash TCL makes; it is also used in the production of other chemicals, mineral processing in mining, pulp and paper manufacture, the making of sodium compounds, soaps and detergents, water treatment, metal refining, textile processing, cleaning preparations, petroleum and metallurgical refining, iron and steel, aluminium and drugs.

The speed at which TCL's soda ash dissolves, its colour and bulk density are important in detergent-industry applications such as laundry and dishwasher detergents, general cleansers and metal-refining detergents.

TCL soda ash's white colour and low impurity content make it the preferred element for manufacturing high-quality sodium silicate. TCL's sodium bicarbonate plant has a capacity of 50 KTPA. The product is manufactured from its own soda ash and marketed domestically as well as exported to the Middle East, Africa and Bangladesh. Other manufacturers use TCL's low-chloride soda ash of consistent quality as a source of alkali in the making of sodium tripolyphosphate.

TCL soda ash is a quality input in the production of sodium chromate and dichromate, feedstock for a variety of chromium chemicals used in pigments, tanning, glass and ceramics. Sodium percarbonate, another chemical product made from TCL soda ash, and hydrogen peroxide are used in detergents to provide (active oxygen) bleaching and sanitising. TCL's soda ash is also used in manufacturing a wide variety of products such as sodium carbonate monohydrate and decahydrate, sodium hexacyanoferrate(II) and sodium aluminate.