Sodium ash, also known as sodium carbonate (), is a refined alkaline chemical of ore trona or brines containing sodium carbonate of natural origin (both referred to as natural soda ash), the mineral nacolite (referred to as bicarbonate) of natural sodium, from which soda ash can be produced) or manufactured from one of several chemical processes (called synthetic soda ash).
A series of refining steps are required to produce high ash mineral ash. First, the raw ore in the mine is crushed and sifted. The material l is then fed to the rotary calciners and heated. In this process, the trona decomposes to form raw soda ash, which dissolves in water. The insoluble shale is separated from the solution by a combination of sedimentation and filtration steps, and the resulting insoluble tailings are carried back to the mine as filler. The soda ash solution is treated to remove organic materials that produce a saturated solution of high purity sodium carbonate.
The solution is then fed to the crystallizers where the water evaporates and crystals of sodium carbonate monohydrate are formed. The familiar term known as “monoproceso” originates from this step of the process. The crystals are dehydrated and washed using cyclones and centrifuges, and the solution is recycled to the evaporator units for further recovery of the soda ash. The monohydrate crystals are fed to rotary kilns where they are dried to final soda ash. Finally, the product is sifted and sent to the storage silos awaiting the loading of the railroad and the truck.
Where is it used?
Soda ash has a series of diversified uses that touch our lives every day. Glass manufacturing is the largest application for soda ash, whether in container production, fiberglass insulation or flat glass for the housing, commercial construction and automotive industries.
Soda ash is also used to clean the air and soften the water. As environmental concerns increase, the demand for soda ash used in the removal of sulfur dioxide and hydrochloric acid from flue gases increases. Chemical producers use soda ash as an intermediate product to make products that sweeten soft drinks (corn sweeteners), relieve physical discomfort (sodium bicarbonate) and improve food and toiletries (phosphates). Household detergents and paper products are some other common examples of easily identifiable products that use soda ash.