Soda ash, the common name for sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), has significant economic importance because of its applications in manufacturing glass, chemicals, paper, detergents and many other products. It has been used since ancient times. The Egyptians, for instance, umade glass containers from soda ash as early as 3500 BC.
And the early Romans expanded its use beyond glass as an ingredient in medicinals and bread.
Much of the world's supply of natural soda ash comes from trona ore. The largest known trona deposits are found in the Green River Basin, a prehistoric alkaline lakebed in southwest Wyoming known to geologists as the Gosiute Lake. It is here, on 67 billion tons of trona deposits, that General Chemical established its Green River facility in 1968. This facility has been expanded over the years and now has a nameplate capacity of 2.8 million tons.
The Green River facility converts trona ore to soda ash in a multi-step purification process. First, crushed
trona is heated in a kiln to drive off unwanted gases. This transforms the ore to crude sodium carbonate.
Water is added, and the solution is filtered to remove impurities. The liquid is then boiled off to form crystals, which are separated in a centrifuge and dried. Soda ash and materials made from it can be found in most industries. It is such a basic material that government and commerce agencies use soda ash production statistics to gauge the health of the economy.
U.S. industry consumes soda ash in approximately the ratios shown in Figure 1-2 below:
General Chemical has been a soda ash producer for more than 100 years and uses the practical experience gained during this time to support it customers in shipping, storing and using soda ash. The following document offers an overview of this knowledge base.