E-Chem Education: A Crash Course in Electrochemical Engineering for Caustic Soda Plant Design

Christopher G. Arges, Darrell Velegol, Matthew L. Jordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The capstone chemical engineering senior process design course at Penn State in spring 2023 tasked students with designing a caustic soda process to partially meet the global demand for commoditized sodium hydroxide. This article disseminates our experience teaching senior chemical engineering students the core tenets of electrochemical engineering in a single class period for designing an electrolytic caustic soda process. In this E-Chem Education article, we relate key concepts found in chemical engineering (such as sizing up a reactor volume), which chemical engineering seniors are adept with, to electrochemical engineering principles (e.g., current density, voltage, and membrane electrode assembly area) for sizing up and costing out a chlor-alkali electrolyzer. Furthermore, we also discuss alternative electrolyzer designs outside the traditional chlor-alkali process, such as oxygen depolarized cathode (ODC) chlor-alkali and bipolar membrane electrodialysis (BPMED), for caustic soda production and the pros and cons of the alternative process designs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-50
Number of pages5
JournalElectrochemical Society Interface
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electrochemistry

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