Assessment of the Impact on the Automotive Industry of a Potential Ban on the Use of Chlorine Chemistry 971186

MAIN CONCLUSION - Banning the use of chlorine chemistry in the manufacture of only three of the major uses of chlorine (steel, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Titanium Dioxide) would result in a requirement to landfill an additional 24.6 billion pounds of waste each year (4.2 billion pounds auto related), raise serious issues regarding recycling with regard to PVC substitutes and raise the cost of related parts by some $2.0 billion a year. In addition, the use of available substitutes for chlorine-based compounds would result in a serious degradation in the quality and performance of automobiles manufactured in North America.
PROCESS - Essentially, the process consisted of a micro economic analysis of the impact on the cost and performance of a “representative” automobile manufactured in North America and the differential environmental impact arising from the use of “available” substitutes.
This entailed breaking the representative car down into its major systems, subsystems and 12,500 components to determine the specific parts which required the use of chlorine chemistry in production. Three major materials groups were selected to test the effectiveness of the methodology: steel, PVC and Titanium Dioxide.
From this breakdown, key components were selected for testing. With the co-operation of automotive manufacturers, raw materials suppliers and parts manufacturers (the value added chain) and engineering firms, “available” substitutes were selected on the basis of known technology, known manufacturing processes and availability of supply1. Impacts (cost, quality, performance, environmental) were then determined by working with raw material manufacturers and part suppliers to develop credible estimates of the cost of converting from existing material to those using substitutes for chlorine chemistry.
Conversion costs included: the cost of capital needed to purchase new plant and equipment; the cost of shutting down existing facilities where applicable; changes in the cost of materials; changes in manufacturing costs arising from new processes, and learning curve costs.
Differential environmental impacts were determined through a step-by-step analysis of the environmental impact arising from the use of chlorine in the manufacture of components and contrasting this to that arising from the use of available substitutes.
Total differential environmental impact and the differential cost per car were determined using an estimated annual North American production of 15 million cars and light trucks.
CASE SPECIFIC RESULTS - A ban on chlorine would force the industry to convert to the use of sulfuric acid in the place of hydrochloric acid to pickle steel. About 90% of spent hydrochloric acid pickle liquor can be economically regenerated (50% is currently being regenerated) whereas sulfuric acid cannot. This necessitates landfilling 10 billion pounds of neutralized sulfuric acid sludge annually.
PVC is used in the manufacture of interior and exterior trim, lower body coatings, window encapsulation and wire harness. The available replacements for PVC are other plastics such as polyurethane, thermoplastic polyolefins cross-linked polyethylene and cloth.
Many components made with substitutes would require painting, making recycling difficult and giving rise to increased emission of VOCs. The alternative is to landfill. Changes in the cost of materials and manufacturing processes would result in an increased cost of 15% to 100% depending on the specific application, for a total of $1.7 billion annually. Quality degradation would be substantial.
Titanium Dioxide is used as a pigment for automotive paints. The available substitute for chlorine is a sulfate process. Converting to the sulfate process would require landfilling 2.2 billion pounds of toxic waste and 13.4 billion pounds of non-toxic waste. This compares to landfilling 1 billion pounds of non-toxic waste using chlorine chemistry, increasing cost by $135 million annually.


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