Caustic Soda Update

Updated December 12, 2018

Supply: Over the past few years, several factors have led to a global tightening of supply for Caustic Soda. In China, lackluster margins for co-product chlorine and new environmental regulations resulted in steady decline of availability, particularly for US imports. In Europe, the chlor-alkali sector committed in 2001 to phase out mercury-cell technology by 2020. This became legally binding when Mercury-cell production was declared outside of Best Available Techniques (BAT) in 2013, resulting in a mandate to close these facilities or convert to Membrane technology by December 2017.

For the latter part of 2018, supply has been stable to strong, with only a few scheduled plant turnarounds and short-term disruptions, such as terminal flooding in Wilmington, NC during Hurricane Florence in September. Operating rates, however, have dropped from the 90’s to the mid-80’s as seasonal demand for Chlorine decreases.

Although no new ground-up plants are currently planned for construction, there has been recent uptick in Asian production, as well as a plant expansion in the USA, see Shintech Announces New Integrated PVC Plant Investment of $1.49 Billion to Bolster PVC Business.  Availability has also increased in the Asian and Middle Eastern markets.

Demand: On the demand side, there have been several changes recently. With the aforementioned issues in China and Europe, the USA has become a more viable and competitive global source for large consumers such as Alumina producers in South America and Australia. This has led to a steady increase in U.S. exports, to the point that the U.S. has become reliant on the export market. According to a recent ICIS report, the U.S. exports approximately 28% of current output. Latin America accounts for over half of U.S. Caustic Soda exports.

This new export market was drastically interrupted in October, when Hydro’s alumina refinery AluNorte in Brazil announced a full curtailment of operations to meet the demands of environmental authorities. This lead to an almost immediate backup in the U.S., as Alunorte accounted for a large percentage of exports. Alunorte was able to restart operations at 50% capacity, but in the meantime many Caustic Soda shipments were forced to be diverted elsewhere. AluNorte is expected to be back at 100% capacity sometime in early 2019, which is expected to balance out the current reserves.

Shift from Diaphragm Grade to Membrane Grade: An interesting twist to the market has been the steady shift in demand away from Diaphragm Grade and towards Membrane Grade product. This preference is due to the fact that Membrane contains less of the starting material, sodium chloride. The lower sodium chloride level reduces the rate of corrosion to costly equipment, particularly in paper mills, which accounts for one of the largest end-use markets. This shift has resulted in an increased availability of Diaphragm Grade, and a persistent tightness in availability of Caustic Soda Membrane Grade.

Pricing: While pricing steadily increased up until the middle of 2018, the market appears to have leveled off and starting softening in the fourth quarter of 2018. In addition, there is a growing disparity in the pricing of Membrane Grade vs. Diaphragm Grade, due to the shift in demand towards Membrane.

In spite of the recent softening, all of the major U.S. producers recently announced a $40/DST increase for all grades, citing lower operating rates and the anticipation of increased demand as AluNorte and other major consumers come back online. This increase is intended to go into effect in January 2019.


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Cold air/storms to blast the Southeast, Tennessee Valley & Gulf Coast

According to AccuWeather, a very active winter is predicted for the Southeast, Tennessee Valley and Gulf Coast this season. January and February will be particularly conducive to snow and ice threats, with multiple storms forecasted for the region. As cold shots become more frequent from mid- to late season, the central and western Gulf Coast will be susceptible to frost and freezes. It will bear a stark contrast to the winter of 2017-2018 when February brought well above-normal temperatures to the area.

Here at CORECHEM inc. We are prepared to meet your needs with a variety of ice melt products. Feel free to give us a call at 1-800-258-5829so that you are not caught off guard this winter season. Be sure to check out our new line of packaging!  ToughMelt™ Premium icemelt blend now available in pails!

Employee Spotlight : Olivia Pool

This month we would like to put the spotlight on a new team member: Olivia Pool. She joined the CORECHEM team on June 4th, 2018, to fill the much needed role as Supply chain coordinator. Her work here has already more than filled our expectations, and has brought a sense of relief to the entire team. We have asked her to reflect on the job thus far:

June 4th, I joined the CORECHEM team as the Supply Chain Coordinator. In my previous work history, I had been in several different logistics and management positions, but the opportunity at CORECHEM has been a new and unique application of these skills. Having just passed the one-month mark on my tenure, I was asked to take a moment to reflect on my experience to this point. As I considered these four weeks, three ideas came to mind: what I have truly enjoyed about this job, what I have learned so far, and what I hope to accomplish.

Coming in to the job, I expected to be overwhelmed: any company whose product offering is as extensive and knowledge intensive as CORECHEM’s would—naturally—be quite a task to master. In this regard, I have not been disappointed. I told a friend a few days after starting, “It just seems like there aren’t enough hours to the day! I start through my ‘to do’ list, and, the next thing I know, it’s already the end of the day.” The challenge of learning—learning about our products, our transportation channels, and our customers—has certainly kept my mind endlessly occupied. Most particularly the challenges all suppliers, producers and distributors are facing considering the driver shortage in the market was a dynamic I had not previously been truly aware of. I look forward to every day learning better ways to be more effective in my application of all the new knowledge I’m being gifted with. My favorite aspect of the job, thus far, has been the opportunity to learn about the various businesses with which we partner. To see all the vibrant and successful businesses in our community and the broader world using the products we provide to solve problems and make products that help people has been truly eye opening. American industry and the unique people who have built it never cease to amaze me. I have loved the opportunities I have had to talk with these hard-working people and learn how I can better make the work they do more seamless and effective. I take very seriously the responsibility I have been given to be a part of the daily workings of other people’s businesses, and I am eager to learn how I can fulfill this responsibility better as I learn and develop.

As I approached this new opportunity—considering what I wanted to accomplish in this new work—I hope to bring a sense of ownership to my work in the supply chain. Ownership in the sense that I treat this job with the same kind of seriousness and industry that I would if I owned the entire company, but also by looking at my work in supply chain here as though I owned our customer’s businesses. If I were a customer of CORECHEM , what priorities and convictions would I want the person in charge of acquiring my components and inventory to have. I have always enjoyed bringing this mindset to my previous pays of employment, and I’m eager to discover the ways I can apply these principles here. I’m so excited to have the chance!

Team Building

Each month at our staff meeting, CORECHEM Inc. employees join in a team building activity, employees are inspired to work together. We are encouraged to communicate, trust, innovate and strategize to complete, and maybe even “win” the challenge.

Here at CORECHEM Inc., we believe that culture is what we make it. If we want a culture that is fun and encourages growth and inspires teamwork and innovation, effort must be put into it. As in any culture, we realize that it starts at the leadership level. We choose activities that help sculpt our culture into one that allows each of us to be unique contributors to a vision that is broader and bigger than any one of us but would not be possible without each member of our team. It is our goal that, by getting ourselves out of our comfort zone and into a challenging situation, we learn to respect our team members and contribute our talents to the end goal. During these activities we encourage behaviors that are healthy to our team in a fun environment, so we can recognize the same behaviors and talents in our everyday tasks.

This month, our activity highlighted the principles of communication and trust. Each employee was paired up with an employee from a different department and told to sit back to back. One of the partners received a picture, and the other a piece of blank paper. The object was to tell the person with the blank piece of paper how to draw the picture without telling them what the picture was.  The results were impressive!

Other activities have included putting questions inside balloons and tossing them to each other, taping pair words on one another’s backs and asking questions to find the match, and building bridges out of pasta, and much more. Each activity has helped us grow together as a team.  

Tennessee Association Of Utility Districts ( TAUD) Operator Expo


The TAUD ( Tennessee Association Of Utility Districts) Operator Expo is held at the Wilson County Fairgrounds in Lebanon,Tennessee. Its purpose is to exhibit vendors and provide demonstrations from experts in the utility industry, while giving other utility professionals from across the state the chance to meet and talk. Meet us at the TAUD Operator Expo in Lebanon, Tennessee on May 17th 2018! We look forward to seeing you there!




Flu Shots … and Closed Loop System Checks

We all know that fall is a time to think about our flu shots, and that it is critical to maintain our health during the flu season. Have you considered checking the health of your customers’ closed loop HVAC and geothermal equipment, to ensure that it too stays healthy all season long? CORECHEM Inc. is your resource for analyzing thermal fluids, to give your customer the peace of mind that their systems contain enough antifreeze to protect from a freeze up flu.

Closed Loop System

Why Is It Important to Treat Your System with the Burst Protection Flu Shot?

Winter is once again on the brink, and just like humans, the health of your closed loops systems might suffer. CORECHEM’s GlycoChill+™ and Exo Endosol™ products provide both the freeze and corrosion resistance that your clients’ systems need to stay well all winter long.

From now until November 30, CORECHEM is offering thermal fluid analysis for any system, at no charge! Simply reach out to us at or call 800-258-5829 to have a sample kit shipped to you today. You should get your results within 2 days of the receipt of your sample!

Request a sample test

Heat Transfer Fluids

Heat Transfer Fluids

When it comes to your closed-loop system’s performance, longevity, and long-term maintenance, you can count on from CORECHEM Inc.  As a producer, we supply Heat Transfer Fluids that meet the demanding needs of a variety of industry applications including:


  • HVAC system freeze/burst/corrosion protection
  • Food industry applications
  • Process and equipment deicing
  • Process cooling and heating
  • Ice skating rinks
  • Air preheating
  • Waste heat recovery
  • Sidewalk and walkway snow melting and deicing
  • Sprinkler systems
  • Ground loop heating systems (geothermal)
  • Water chiller systems
  • Central heating systems
  • Pipeline tracing


Questions about application?  Call our heat transfer experts today to help you find the right solution.


Characteristics of alcohol and glycol-based heat transfer fluids

There are a variety of compounds that can be used in heat transfer fluids to prevent water from freezing where the temperature in the fluid is below 0°C (32°F); the most common are,

  • ethanol (ethyl alcohol)
  • methanol (methyl alcohol)
  • ethylene glycol (1,2-ethanediol)
  • propylene glycol (1,2-propanediol)
  • bio-based propylene glycol (1,3-propanediol)

The basic properties of these freeze protection fluids are listed below.

Ethanol (ethyl alcohol)
  • low corrosiveness
  • high flammability (if pure)
  • low toxicity
  • high heat transfer capacity
  • low pumping requirements due to viscosity
  • moderate cost
Methanol (methyl alcohol)
  • low corrosiveness
  • high flammability (if pure)
  • high toxicity (some states have banned the use of this product in geothermal systems)
  • high heat transfer capacity
  • low pumping requirements due to viscosity
  • low cost
Ethylene Glycol (1,2-ethanediol)
  • low corrosiveness
  • low flammability
  • high toxicity
  • low heat transfer capacity
  • high pumping requirements due to viscosity
  • higher cost
Propylene Glycol (1,2-propanediol)
  • low corrosiveness
  • low flammability
  • low toxicity
  • low heat transfer capacity
  • high pumping requirements due to viscosity
  • highest cost
Bio-based Propylene Glycol (1,3-propanediol)
  • low corrosiveness
  • high resistance to acid degradation
  • low flammability
  • low toxicity
  • low heat transfer capacity
  • lower pumping requirements than propylene glycol, due to viscosity
  • highest cost

Protection, Performance, Peace of mind…assured with our specialty heat transfer fluid line. CORECHEM Inc. is a formulator and manufacturer of heat transfer fluids, geothermal fluids and pipework system protection products serving the commercial and industrial markets.  We have a full line of products for heating and cooling applications, freeze and burst pipe protection, and deicing, defrosting and dehumidifying applications.

Questions regarding heat transfer fluids or geothermal fluids?   Call now for answers! 1-800-258-5829 –  We are your HTF/GEO fluid resource!

Matthew Werle