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Odda Smelteverk AS - Odda melting plant - 1924-2003

Odda Smelteverk AS (the Odda Smelting Plant) was founded in 1924, with the production plant and equipment of the former Odda Factories. After the Elsinore agreement of July 1924 the power from AS Tyssefaldene was shared by the Norwegian Zinc company, the Norwegian Nitrid Company and Odda Smelteverk.

The power assigned to the Odda Smelteverk made it possible to produce about 50,000 tonnes carbide per year. This was the situation until 1967, when the Tysso 2 power plant in Skjeggedal was started. In the same year the production increased from 50 000 tonnes to 85 000 tonnes.

From the mid-Seventies until production came to a stop in 2002 Odda Smelteverk was the only manufacturer of calcium carbide in Norway. 

Odda Smelteverk principally operated in the metallurgic sector. More than 95% of the products were exported to about 80 countries all over the world. The side products from the limestone kiln and the dicyandiamide production served as raw materials for Odda calcium, which was used in agriculture. The surplus of hot water from the process was used to heat the pedestrian street in Odda and thus to keep it free from ice, and at the same time create ideal breeding conditions for salmon in the river Opo.



1921: As a result of the international depression after World War II, the Odda factories lose their markets and close.

1924: In the autumn 1924 the Odda Smelteverk A/S (the Odda Smelting Plant) is founded, with Hafslund-Meraker as major stockholder. Frans Vilhelm Bruce is appointed managing director.         

1925: The cyanamide production is started.

1937:  The British Oxygen Company buys the shares in Odda Smelteverk. As a part of the international company BOC, Odda enjoys advantages in terms of market and development.

1951:  The dicyandiamide factory is opened in Odda. Products based on carbide are important for the survival of the carbide production. The startup of the dicyandiamide factory contributes to maintain the production of carbide on a high level. The available power had to be used locally.

1955: Extensive modernization of the calcium carbide plant.

1967: The Tysso 2 power station is started. Greater availability of power makes it possible to increase production.

1982:  Odda Smelteverk builds and puts into operation one of the world’s largest closed calcium carbide furnaces. Furnace 3 had a production capacity of 130 000 tonnes per year.

1998:   BOC sells the smelting plant to the American Philipp Brothers Chemicals Inc.

1999:   Odda Smelteverk prepares the production of a new product, hydrogen-cyanamide (CY-50) which is to save the plant from bankruptcy.

2001: The CY-50 factory is sold to the German competitor Degussa, is taken down and later rebuilt in Germany. 

2002:   Odda Smelteverk stops the production of calcium carbide in June, and in November the production of dicyandiamide is temporarily discontinued. The price of dicyandiamide rises by 50% once Degussa practically becomes sole supplier.



Oversiktsbilde Odda Smelteverk Odda melting plant before it was finally shut down in 2003. Photo: Harald Hognerud Kraftmuseet


Calcium carbide was used as raw material for the production of acetylene gas. It was also used as desulphurizing agent in steel works and foundries.

The limestone was calcined in a vertical shaft kiln with the off gas from the Calcium carbide furnace as fuel. The lime and coke reacted in a modern 50 MW furnace. The carbide was tapped from the furnace at 2200°C into moulds of 1200 kilogram each. After being cooled, the carbide was crushed and screened, packed and marked. The plant exported more than 95 % of its products to about 80 countries around the world.


Three generations lime kilns from 1912 to 1957 - Fanehjelm and Priest. Photo: Kraftmuseet archives



Calcium carbide is produced in a closed three-phase kiln with continuous Søderberg electrodes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The chief reaction during production is:                                                                                                                                                                CaO   +   3C   ->   CaC2    +     CO                                                                                                        Fired limestone + Carbon  ->  Calsium carbide + carbon monoxide.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Most applications of calcium carbide are based on acetylene. Acetylene was discovered in the early Nineteenth century by the Englishman Edmund Davy, but it was not much used until towards the end of that century. While trying to develop a cheaper way to produced aluminium, Canadian Thomas Wilson happened to discover a cheap but efficient way to produce calcium carbide by heating coal and limestone in a smelting oven. Wilson also discovered that acetylene could be made by combining calcium carbide with water.                                                  As a result of this discovery, gas was put to extensive use for illumination, due to the bright and clear flame produced when acetylene gas is burned. A lot of lamps in the late 19th and early 20th century used acetylene, which is still used in areas where electricity is unavailable. Today acetylene is used for welding and burning, but most is used as a raw material in organic synthetic industry.                                                                            Calcium cyanamide is used in two main areas: as a combined fertilizer and weed killer in agriculture, and as a raw material in chemical industry. The fertilizer produced in Odda produced in Odda was known as “Troll powder”. Dicyandiamide was produced by chemical industry, and served as raw material for making plastics, glue, explosives, detergents, weed killers, fireproof materials, colours and drugs. Most served to produce melamine, melamine-formaldehyde plastics of the kind used in varnishes, laminates, gules, paper coatings and for processing textiles.


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Norwegian Museum of Hydropower and Industry

Naustbakken 7, 5770 Tyssedal
Phone: +47 53 65 00 50