THYSSENKRUPP Industrial Solutions South Africa (TKISSA) is to provide low cost, robust, mobile units to dilute and spray disinfectant for use in COVID-19 hotspots.
That’s according Bruce Bassett, General Manager: Special Projects, who added that the company was prepared for a spike in demand for hypochlorite and other key chemicals being used in the fight against the virus.
“As COVID-19 is extremely contagious, the right cleaning agents and sanitisers will play an extremely important role in the next months and possibly years to come.”
Hypochlorite is the active ingredient in bleach which has a concentration of 3.5% hypochlorite. Bassett cited a World Health Organisation recommendation that 0.5% hypochlorite solution be used to disinfect surfaces potentially containing COVID-19.
“The contact time is in the order of a minute, depending on hypochlorite brand. To make a 0.5% hypochlorite solution, it is necessary to dilute the bleach seven times. This is as good as the alcohols used in hand sanitisers.”
He added that if bleach, like JIK, is diluted in this way, it is safe to use in homes and hospitals for cleaning surfaces with the right personal protective equipment (PPE) to effectively kill the virus.
Bassett said demand for hypochlorite had increased significantly in China and Europe due to the fight against COVID-19. “In Wuhan, China, and Milan, Italy, they are spraying streets with this 0.5% hypochlorite solution and many other countries are following suit.”
However, concentrated hypochlorite has a limited shelf life and logistic timing has to be considered.
Hypochlorite is made by reacting chlorine with caustic soda. Chlorine and caustic are made using chlor-alkali electrolysers supplied by a pure salt solution and electricity. TKIS supplies chlor-alkali electrolyers in quantities of 45 tons per day and 10 to 20 tons per day modular units, as well as custom designed to required sizes.
“To ensure South Africa is prepared in the next weeks, TKISSA has contacted both Sasol Polymers and National Chemical Products Chlor-Alkali plants to give a heads up on the expected hypochlorite demand.” Sasol Polymers operates Thyssenkrupp Uhde Chlorine Engineer (TKUCE ) GEN 4 BM and n BITAC Chlor-Alkali electrolysers.
TKUCE Italia in co-operation with TKISSA were awarded a contract in 2018 for a 45 tpd chlor-alkali plant in Tanzania. The modules have been delivered and the plant is under construction. “For the countries in Africa, they will need to source hypochlorite from South Africa or North Africa or countries outside Africa.”
Bassett said that in some African countries, where the normal demand for chlorine, hypochlorite, hydrochloric acid and caustic is much lower, the 10 20 tpd modular Chlor-Alkali plant is better suited and being considered.
“Cranefield University in the UK are working on a new test to detect COVID-19 in the wastewater of communities infected with the virus. This will help to determine whether there are potential COVID-19 carriers in local areas.
“As the wastewater in South Africa goes into our rivers, it is advisable that good chlorine residual is also maintained in drinking water to ensure there are no pathogens.”
He said Isopropyl alcohol (IPA), n-Propanol and Ethanol are in great demand for hand sanitisers and cleaning agents. “TKISSA has already had discussions with Sasol Management on what they see happening in the world and local SA market. Sasol have confirmed that they have geared up and already see increased demand.”
TKISSA designed and built the n-Propanol and High Purity Ethanol plants in Secunda for Sasol.