A clean piece of work
The Deutsche Gold- und Silber-Scheideanstalt (Degussa AG since 1980 and predecessor of the Chemicals Business Area of Evonik) started in a somewhat more modest way with the former Österreichische Chemische Werke in Weissenstein, a town in the Austrian province of Carinthia. In 1907/08 plans were made to set up a plant to manufacture hydrogen peroxide using electrolytics. However, due to a lack of financing, the building site remained idle. Degussa expressed great interest in the Weissenstein electrolytic process, as it could be used to produce perborate more easily and at a lower cost. Perborate was an additive that Degussa was supplying in increasing quantities to Henkel for their “Persil” detergent.
With Degussa’s financial backing, production finally began in Weissenstein in 1910. By 1928, demand for hydrogen peroxide had become so great that Degussa set up its own manufacturing plant at its factory in Rheinfelden. Since then, production capacity worldwide has been expanded constantly with new manufacturing plants. The main reason why this active oxygen is so widely used is its varied applicability, which now goes far beyond its original use as the preliminary product of a washing powder additive. Hydrogen peroxide is essential as a bleach in the textile industry and in processing used paper. It is also used in hydrometallurgical processes, for example in leaching gold.
Hydrogen peroxide production today is part of the Chemicals Business Area of Evonik, one of the leading suppliers in the world.