The Royal Dutch Salt Industry (Koninklijke Nederlandse Zoutindustrie or KNZ) was established on July 13, 1918 to start the first commercial salt production in the Netherlands. A century after its founding, the heritage of KNZ is still significant.

Features - July 2018

What started as a small venture to produce table salt under brand names such as JOZO has become a key part of the foundation of the modern chemical industry. Nouryon annually produces over 6 million tons of high-purity salt worldwide for use in the chemical industry, food, pharmaceuticals, and to de-ice roads.

General Manager Industrial Salt & Salt Specialties, Nils van der Plas, says, “It may come as a surprise, but salt is an essential raw material for many products we use every day, including plastics used in lightweight cars and wind turbines, as well as solar panels and insulation materials.”

Sustainable future

“This year we are looking back at a century of salt production, but also forward to a sustainable future for salt mining and chemistry.”

Salt was deposited in the Netherlands over 200 million years ago by the evaporation of seawater, leaving behind a thick underground layer of salt which stretches north as far as Denmark. It was discovered in the Dutch region of Twente in 1887 when a local lord was looking for drinking water on his estate. The water he found was too salty to be drinkable, but that salt content offered other opportunities and an application for a mining permit was filed. In 1918, KNZ broke ground on its first factory in Boekelo, set to produce 5000 tons of salt each year.

A new industry

Initially the salt was used only for consumption and de-icing roads, but in 1931 KNZ established its first plant for manufacturing chlorine and other chemicals from salt in Hengelo. Soon enough the business expanded beyond the city’s borders. In 1956, the construction of a chlorine electrolysis plant in Delfzijl began and the first calcined (water-free) soda made from salt was manufactured the following year. In 1959, salt production started in Delfzijl as well.

Growing together

Nowadays, with an annual production of about 6 million tons of salt, we are one of the largest salt producers in Europe. We produce mostly vacuum salt from ancient underground salt layers. The exceptional purity makes it ideally suited for use in the chemical industry to efficiently produce chlorine and lye, and our operations are highly integrated with our chlor-alkali and chlorine derivatives activities.

Sustainable future

"Over the past century salt has become the basis for products touching every aspect of our lives – from your house to your car to your medicine. To make sure we can produce this essential raw material, but also to make sure we can do so safely and sustainably, we have invested over €100 million in new pipelines and techniques,” says Van der Plas.

Nouryon has made great strides in using renewable energy and currently 46% of energy use is from renewable energy sources. Increasingly, we get the energy needed for salt production from sustainable sources, such as wind energy or steam generated from waste. In 2017 the company also started delivering steam to the heat network in Hengelo.

Knut Schwalenberg, Managing Director of Industrial Chemicals activities, says, “Our annual salt production keeps growing and our salt is distributed to over 80 countries worldwide. Nouryon is constantly evolving and now that we are an independent company, we are starting another exciting chapter in our story.”

We are a global specialty chemicals leader.

Markets worldwide rely on our essential chemistry in the manufacture of everyday products, such as paper, plastics, building materials, food, pharmaceuticals, and personal care items. Building on our nearly 400-year history, the dedication of our 10,000 employees, and our shared commitment to business growth, strong financial performance, safetysustainability, and innovation, we have established a world-class business and built strong partnerships with our customers. We operate in over 80 countries around the world and our portfolio of industry-leading brands includes Eka, Dissolvine, Trigonox and Berol.