An electrochemical process for the production of sodium hypochlorite is disclosed. The process may potentially be used to produce sodium hypochlorite from seawater or low purity un-softened or NaCl-based salt solutions. The process utilizes a sodium ion conductive ceramic membrane, such as membranes based on NASICON-type materials, in an electrolytic cell. In the process, water is reduced at a cathode to form hydroxyl ions and hydrogen gas. Chloride ions from a sodium chloride solution are oxidized in the anolyte compartment to produce chlorine gas which reacts with water to produce hypochlorous and hydrochloric acid. Sodium ions are transported from the anolyte compartment to the catholyte compartment across the sodium ion conductive ceramic membrane. Sodium hydroxide is transported from the catholyte compartment to the anolyte compartment to produce sodium hypochlorite within the anolyte compartment.
This invention was made in part with government support under grant number DE-FG02-05ER84221 awarded by the United States Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in the invention.