Clinker manufacture operational: 1955-1973
Approximate total clinker production: 2.3 million tonnes
Ownership: United Sulfuric Acid Corporation
Alternatively called the Green Oak Works. The anhydrite process sulfuric acid plant was built essentially to ICI designs and specifications, in response to restricted availability of elemental sulphur in the 1950s.
USAC, which owned and operated the Widnes anhydrite process sulphuric acid and cement plant, was essentially a consortium of ICI sulfuric acid customers. As founded (May 1951), it was a partnership of the following:
APCM was not involved in the consortium, but undertook to grind the clinker and distribute the cement product. The project was supported and underwritten by the Ministry of Materials.
Unlike Billingham and Whitehaven, which were built literally on top of their raw materials, the location of the Widnes plant was dictated by the need to minimise transportation distances for the acid product, since cost per km for this was high, and the market for the acid in the Widnes/Runcorn area was large. (ICI had seriously considered a pipeline from Billingham to Widnes as an alternative strategy.) The plant here was essentially the same as the S3 unit at Billingham.
Closure in 1973 was associated with the rise in energy prices and fall in the price of elemental sulphur. The Long Meg mine closed shortly after in January 1976. The cement site remained a Blue Circle depot for a while and has only recently been cleared.
Two rotary kilns were installed:
Supplier: Edgar Allen
Operated: ?5/7/1955 - 14/1/1973
Sources: Cook, pp 116-117: Jackson, p 302: D. W. F. Hardie, J. Davidson Pratt, A History of the Modern British Chemical Industry, Pergamon Press Ltd., 1966, pp 125, 325: a fair amount of information is to be found in the archive of the Catalyst Museum, Widnes: Plant Brochure (Catalyst Archive 1996.37): The Design and Construction of the United Sulphuric Acid Corporation Factory at Widnes, Lancs, ICI General Chemicals Division Chief Engineer’s Department Report, 6/2/1958 (Catalyst Archive 1996.42): USAC, Engineering Manager’s Monthly Reports (Catalyst Archive 2009.1).
© Dylan Moore 2011: last edit 31/10/2015.
Approximate capacity: tonnes per year
The plant as installed was configured as follows:
© Dylan Moore 2011: in preparing this account, I received a great deal of help from Paul Meara, of the Catalyst museum.