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Publication > Issue > Articles

Goro takes shape

Summary

Inco's hopes for a new generation of acid leach nickel projects have all arrived at once. Chris Cunningham reviews recent progress at the Canadian company's sulphur-hungry nickel-cobalt project at Goro, New Caledonia.

Abstract

Just when you’ve had to wait for one $billion-plus nickel project to pass the green light, two come along. As Canadian nickel giant Inco inked in the final details for construction and management of its muchvaunted Goro laterite mining/processing project in New Caledonia, it also reached agreement with the provincial government of Newfoundland/ Labrador to go ahead with development of the even bigger Voisey’s Bay nickel-copper-cobalt resource, following years of delay (see Industry News, p8).

The result for Inco, assuming no cost over-runs, is $3.3 billion-worth of operational commitment. Along with that comes an important new outlet for sulphur in Goro; the possibility of a major requirement for sulphuric acid at Voisey’s Bay; new acidbased hydrometallurgical processes in production; and the further possibility of new Canadian-Japanese alliances surrounding the stainless steel industry, the dominant outlet for the world’s nickel production.

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What future for refining?

Summary

Oil refiners gathered in Monte Carlo early in June to share perspectives on the longer term future of a business already under pressure to invest in higher quality fuels. Chris Cunningham reports.

Abstract

Restraint is not a word that could be used easily in Monaco. Outside the Monte Carlo Grand Hotel, venue for this year’s European Oil Refining Conference, Grand Prix racing’s most famous series of bends snakes its way down toward a harbour packed with the top of the range in personal marine transport. Offshore, cruise liners loose grey-brown plumes from their funnels as passenger launches ply their way to and from the Mediterranean’s premier mustsee port of call.

Refinery managers could imagine themselves transported back a generation to days when their operations were more predictable, when more traffic on the roads was a relatively popular target, and when the sulphur content of gasoline was barely a pressing issue. But in 2002 there is little time for that sort of reverie as the demands of environmental legislation and the automotive industry continue to bite into refiners’ capital budgets. The future is more or less clear and road fuel producers at DRI-WEFA’s annual gathering were gearing up for a sulphurless deadline of 2011. Or perhaps 2008.

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Getting the most out of Claus catalysts

Summary

Recent studies have led to a much greater understanding of the salient and practical issues of catalytic conversion of H2S and SO2 in the converter train of a Claus plant. As a result of this knowledge, new catalysts and a new testing procedure to compare catalysts have been developed, and a radically different sulphur process has been proposed.

Abstract

The catalytic converter train of a Claus plant is responsible for 35-40% of the sulphur produced in the overall system and is designed to handle CS2 and COS as well as convert H2S and SO2 to sulphur. The catalysts used in the converter train play a very important role in determining the overall sulphur recovery efficiency as, in many cases, catalytic conversion of CS2 and COS has a strong influence on the amount of sulphur that can be formed upstream of any tail gas unit. Choosing a catalyst or combination of catalysts for a particular plant can be a complicated matter depending on the amount and type of impurities formed in the Claus furnace.1 In general, the following questions need to be addressed when choosing catalysts for the converter train:

  • Is there a large amount of CS2 and COS in the process gas entering the first converter?
  • What type of reheater is used to increase the inlet gas temperature? Is oxygen breakthrough occurring in the reheater system?
  • What is the average space velocity? Will there be wide variations in space velocity in the course of normal operation?
  • Are benzene, toluene and xylene (BTX) commonly present in the process gas entering the converter train?
  • What is the best means of determining if a catalyst that has been on line for some time should be changed out during a turnaround?

 

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Utilising diffusion dialysis for spent acid recovery

Summary

Exergy Technology Corp. has developed and commercialised a new online diffusion dialysis process for treating spent acid from metal plating operations. This state-of-the-art technology uses ion exchange membranes to recycle spent acids. Dr Fred Reinhard, VP of Technology at Exergy, describes the process and its applications.

Abstract

Membrane processes such as diffusion dialysis offer a new and innovative approach for the regeneration and recycling of specific chemicals in the manufacturing and process industries. Diffusion dialysis can be utilised in a variety of manufacturing settings to recycle process acids.

One of the important advantages of utilising diffusion dialysis is that this process operates without using additional chemicals for the recovery and regeneration of process acids.The consumption of process chemicals and wastewater treatment is reduced and, as a result, less salt is generated for plant discharge. Set limits for TDS (total dissolved solids) are already in force in several European countries and the USA.These limits restrict the quantity of waste acids that can be neutralised and discharged.

Diffusion dialysis competes with other acid recovery technologies such as retardation processes (a resin sorption- based technology) in many industrial applications where no regeneration is required. (In acid retardation processes, spent acid is pumped through a special ion exchange resin bed and absorbs on the outer surface of the resin beads while the metal salt is in the effluent.When the resin is exhausted it is backwashed. The backwash effluent contains the recycled acid for reuse.) Acid retardation is not always economical and normally generates more waste than diffusion dialysis.1 Depending on the application, diffusion dialysis can provide high acid recovery and metal rejection rates. Other advantages, e.g. in anodising, include potentially significant energy savings when purifying the anodising acid bath.

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NAS battery to go into commercial production

Summary

In today's high technology society, power demand is high, and reliability and quality of power supply is of utmost importance. Demand for electric power fluctuates from day to night and also from season to season. By storing energy more efficiently these fluctuations can be absorbed and energy wastage reduced.

Abstract

Restructuring of US retail energy markets, increased wholesale competition, declining grid reliability and the need for increased reliability and high quality service provides an opportunity to introduce new technology into the energy delivery system. Distributed energy resources (i.e. energy sources rated less than 10 MW that are located near the load) and energy storage devices can supplement the existing central generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure and help meet peak demand. Energy storage, and in particular the sodium sulphur (NAS) battery, offer unique solutions to energy management (peak shaving), reliability (outage) and power quality (momentary interruption) issues. These applications increase asset utilisation and provide alternatives to meet peak demand.

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