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calcium cyanamide factory - ferrosilicon smelter / Domodossola / 1918 - 1995 / 2007


On this site a calcium carbide and cyanamide factory was established in 1916 by Società Elettrochimica Dr. Rossi. Both products, obtained through electric arc furnaces (EAF), used to be at the base of several chemical synthesis at that time: while carbide was the main source of acetylene and derivates, cyanamide was widely used as nitrogen fertilizer. The profitable business was taken over by Società Agraria di Domodossola in 1918 and, in turn, by SAPA-Società Anonima Prodotti Azotati in 1923. The latter - a subsidiary of Montecatini chemical group - enlarged the factory with six new EAFs (2000 kW each) and increased the production of cyanamide (12000 t/y). During the 1930s large efforts were made to improve the production capacity of calcium cyanamide. By the end of the decade, the Domodossola factory was the second largest cyanamide manufacturer in Italy with 50000 t/y (plus 5000 t of calcium carbide). Due to its importance, the factory was a strategic objective during the Second World War and therefore heavily damaged. Activities restarted in 1946, slowly prioritizing carbide production instead of cyanamide. This happened because acetylene-based chemistry was growing in the region: Montecatini produced acetic acid in Villadossola and acetate rayon in Pallanza, Rumianca vinyl and polyvinyl chlorides in Pieve Vergonte.



Things changed completely from 1960, when petrochemistry replaced the carbide-based production chain (ethylene and urea instead of acetylene and calcium cyanamide). Montedison - which followed to Montecatini in 1966 - decided to reconvert the factory to ferroalloys production. This was achieved in 1969-70, through the installation of two big submerged-arc furnaces (3600 kW each). By 1970 the new plant was able to produce 22000 t of ferrosilicon 75-80%. Montedison metallurgical division DIMM run the site until early 1990s, when it was sold to Indel Group and then closed in 1995.













Montecatini - Società Generale per l'Industria Mineraria e Chimica (1935), La Società Montecatini ed il suo Gruppo Industriale - nel venticinquesimo anno di amministrazione [di] Guido Donegani, Istituto Bertieri, Milano.

Trincheri, G. (2001), Industrie chimiche in Italia dalle origini al 2000, Arvan, Mira.