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The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
The European Commission recently published the best available techniques (BAT) conclusions for the production of chlor-alkali. Chlorine chemistry is used to manufacture a wide range of products such as window frames, pipes, flooring, upholstery, insulation, plastics or paints.
These conclusions, produced by the JRC's European Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Bureau (EIPPCB), cover the production of chlorine, hydrogen, potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide by the electrolysis of brine and set the limits for the emissions to air and water associated with this production. They also define the most economically and technologically viable environmental-friendly techniques available for a number of process steps, such as the preparation of brine, the electrolysis, and the purification and handling of the actual products. BAT conclusions are the reference for setting the permit conditions for the installations used under the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) 2010/75/EU, which regulates emissions to air, water and soil of about 50 000 industrial installations across the EU.
The sector of chlor-alkali production is the fifth one to be reviewed under this directive, after the iron and steel, glass, tanning of hides and skins, and cement, lime and magnesium oxide sectors. In 2014 the adoption of new BATs conclusions for the pulp and paper, and oil and gas refining sectors is foreseen.
The EIPPCB coordinates the drafting of BAT reference documents (BREFs), which include the BAT conclusions, together with background information on the sector concerned and techniques applied, as well as information on emerging techniques that have the potential to become BATs in the future. In 2006, the EIPPCB completed the first series of 33 BREFs and started reviewing them under the IED framework. The EIPPCB is currently working on the review of several BREFs, namely for the ferrous metals processing industry, the common waste water and waste gas treatment/management systems in the chemical sector, the sector of the intensive poultry and pigs rearing, the large volume organic chemical industry, the wood-based panels production and waste treatment sector and large combustion plants.