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Hooker created the company to utilize the Townsend cell to electrolyse salt into chlorine and sodium hydroxide NaOH , also known as "caustic soda" and "lye," in a chloralkali process. Elmer Sperry, founder of Sperry Electric, and Leo Baekeland , inventor of Bakelite and Velox photographic paper, consulted for Hooker to improve the design of the cell.
Chlorine products were produced, including chlorobenzene , which was then converted to picric acid , for use as an explosive in World War I. Later, solvents like trichloroethylene and phenol were sold for degreasing and dry cleaning by the subsidiary company Detrex.
Hooker licensed his diaphragm cell technology to other chloralkali producers. Hooker Chemical also began to produce sulfur chloride and sodium chlorate. Hooker built a new chlor-alkali plant in Tacoma, WA in Additional products, including sodium sulfide , sodium sulfhydrate , sodium tetrasulfide , and aluminum chloride were produced by the company.
The company also produced arsenic trichloride , thionyl chloride , and hexachlorobenzene. Hooker expanded into plastics manufacturing, developing epoxy vinyl ester resins , and in acquired a thermoset plastic phenolic resins business, called Durez Corp. Its name has changed a few times. Ruck in The film "This is Not a Chocolate Factory" features the history of the site, its polluting practices and citizen response.