In the United States, 40 percent of the chlorine produced finds use in polyvinyl chloride, a common type of plastic manufacturers use in automobiles, water pipes, home siding and food containers. Manufacturers also use chlorine in hydrochloric acid, dry-cleaning solvents and chlorine bleach.
Polyvinyl chloride is a thermoplastic that is lightweight and easily molded into many different components. Often supplied to the manufacturer as a powder, factories melt the plastic and use extrusion or molding to create objects and parts. Grinding used PVC back into a powder allows for recycling. Other chemicals added to PVC determine if it remains flexible or forms a rigid material. However, PVC sometimes comes under fire as poison plastic.
Hydrochloric acid is a strong acid used in various manufacturing process. It is essential for refining metal ores and dissolves scale from boilers. It provides chlorine molecules for use in producing dyes and fertilizers. The food industry uses hydrochloric acid in the reduction of starches for foods.
Dry-cleaning solvents are often organic chemicals where one or more chlorine ions replace a hydrogen ion. These powerful solvents dissolve grease and oil to clean clothing. Sodium hypochlorite is the key ingredient in chlorine bleach, a laundry additive that helps to whiten clothes while and boost the performance of laundry detergent.