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Octel Bromine Works, June 2020

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FunkyMuffin

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History:

The Associated Octel factory was built in 1953 at the Amlwch site to extract bromine from seawater and turn it into an additive for petrol engines. At the time, petrol used in road vehicles contained lead. Engine “knocking” was a common problem. This could damage engine cylinders over time. The additive produced at Amlwch reduced knocking and improved engine efficiency.

As the health effects of lead in vehicle exhaust gases became better understood, unleaded petrol was developed. It was introduced to UK filling stations in the 1980s, and leaded petrol was later phased out. As demand for anti-knock additive reduced, the Octel factory diversified into other bromine products and in the late 1990’s the Amlwch site was taken over by “Great Lakes Chemicals limited” The site had moved away from producing DBE for petrol into producing Bromine and Bromine intermediates for use in a wide range of consumer products such as Pharmaceuticals, Dyes, Flame retardant, agrochemicals and water purification systems. In 2004, the corporation decided to close the works at Amlwch and within a few months most of the 120 former employees had left.


How it’s done:

Sea water is sucked in then lifted 50ft into sea water ponds by huge pumps where debris is removed. It is then passed to the sea water main where chlorine and diluted sulphuric acid are added which releases the bromine. This water is passed into the top of a tower where it drops over 20ft through the packed section of the tower. It is then met by currents of air traveling upwards. Where it meets these air currents the bromine gets stripped out of the water, which is returned to the sea. While the wet bromine laden air passes to the top of the tower to be treated with hydrobromic and sulphuric acids. The mist then passes into an absorber and goes to a collecting tank. It is then pumped to a steaming out tower. It is treated with chlorine and steam which releases the bromine as a vapour. It takes about 22,000 tonnes of seawater to produce 1 tonne of bromine. 300,000 gallons of seawater are drawn in every minute.


The Explore:

What can I say about a road trip to Wales? One of my most favourite things in the world. This time visited with Funky Muffin 2 and since we didn’t have accommodation due to the good old COVID, we slept in the Ford Bmax I borrowed. Don’t underestimate the comfort of a car 😂
We met up with a Welsh friend, aka blobs a fellow explorer with extensive knowledge of the area. Was a great day out and although most of the place had been trashed through the years I really enjoyed it, so much so that it’ll be the first port of call when I get to return.

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Thanks for looking
 
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Roderick

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Love it, looks like a great trip! There must be more stuff to find under ground, big machine room, switch gear etc? or was it all flooded?
 

FunkyMuffin

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Love it, looks like a great trip! There must be more stuff to find under ground, big machine room, switch gear etc? or was it all flooded?
Thank you! We didn’t have enough time to really dig into the place so that is my intention on the next visit. I lost a lot of the photos I took but you could crawl into the massive pump towers. I can only imagine the noise that was created when they were all running.
 

Tbolt

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Loving your pics these days miss muffin.
I couldn't really find much to like here if I'm honest but it looks like you enjoyed it more than I and it shoes in ya pics x
 

FunkyMuffin

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Loving your pics these days miss muffin.
I couldn't really find much to like here if I'm honest but it looks like you enjoyed it more than I and it shoes in ya pics x
Thats very kind of you, thanks. I do love industrial, big machines rock my world 😂 x
 

Jfello77

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Cool...my family live in Amlwch so I know Octel...never been for an explore though...might give it a go next time I’m over there
 

FunkyMuffin

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Deffo worth a look here. Was bowled over by just how much was left...
As was I. Seemed only the offices had been trashed but the amount of stuff still left was staggering compared to most places I've been. Very much looking forward to a return
 
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