BC Insight - Nitrogen+Syngas, Sulphur, Fertilizer International
Login
BCInsight Ltd
China Works
Black Prince Road
London, SE1 7SJ
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7793 2567
Fax: +44 (0)20 7793 2577

Publication > Issue > Articles

Can Kyoto Lite save the day?

Summary

The United States and Australia have said "no".The European Community and Japan have said "yes". The Kyoto Protocol has divided opinions about its enforceable schedule to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) over the next two decades.The fertilizer industry has participated in the discussions to set the new standards, as described in this review.

Abstract

For several years, the global community sought to address increasing public concern that growing emissions of certain greenhouse gases, such as CO2, N2O and methane, were contributing to global warming. Most of the progress occurred behind the scenes. In May 1992, countries began to sign the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which went into force in March 1994. The United States was one of the early ratifiers. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was announced. This was devised as the instrument for implementing the UNFCCC, and 160 nations pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by varying percentages over the period between 2008–2012. Thus, Canada committed to reduce its emissions by 6% below 1990 levels, while the United States set a target of 7% below 1990 emission levels. The European countries appeared to accept the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol with some enthusiasm, but the US government was accused of dragging its feet. Critics also argued that the US pledge rang somewhat hollow, as the country emitted 1.80 billion tonnes of carbon or carbon equivalent in 1998, nearly 10% more than US GHG emissions in 1990. These critics questioned whether the United States could actually achieve its Kyoto Protocol target.

Add to basket


IMC builds on the basics

Summary

Two years ago, IMC launched its innovative Back-to-Basics educational program for US farmers. Buoyed by its success, the company will extend this program internationally. Ray Hoyum tells FI about the goals and objectives of these important initiatives.

Abstract

While many businesses recently have faced their most challenging years, IMC, as a worldwide leader in phosphate and potash production, has addressed the challenge with pro-active educational initiatives. According to Ray Hoyum, Vice President of Market Development and Communications at IMC, the company continues contributing to its customers’ success by providing them and their grower customers with educational programs that have the greatest impact and the most far-reaching benefit.

Through seminars, World Food Production Conferences, educational materials and the company’s Websites, IMC delivers educational and support programs that focus on agronomic and economic fundamentals. Hoyum refers to the company’s Back-to-Basics program, which was developed to help North American dealers teach growers to maximise their profitability by starting from the ground and working up.

Add to basket


IFDC makes a difference around the world

Summary

"America feeds the world" is the theme of this and the following review. The International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) was created in the aftermath of a food crisis in 1974, with a remit of increasing agricultural productivity in the developing regions in an environmentally-sound and sustainable way. Since then, IFDC has played a vital role in helping to put agriculture and agri-businesses on a sound footing in many countries throughout the world, directly benefiting many thousands of people.What this work has meant to individual farmers is described here.

Abstract

For almost two centuries, the theories of Thomas Malthus held sway. Malthus was pessimistic about mankind’s future. He famously concluded that “the power of population is infinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.” Inevitably, as a check to rising population, some portion of mankind would forever be facing starvation. Efforts to aid the starving were doomed, Malthus contended, as those initially spared from famine would bear too many children to be fed with existing food supplies.

Over time, it became clear that the key to man’s ability to feed a growing population was not nature’s abundance, but man’s ability to make the most efficient uses of the available resources. A critical development was the opening up of America’s prairie heartlands, as a new population arrived mainly from Europe to cultivate what had hitherto been regarded as the “Great American Desert.” The result was not only a guaranteed supply of food for the burgeoning North American population, but also a surplus that could be readily shipped to feed Europe and beyond.

Progress in North America’s emergence as a global breadbasket was not entirely smooth, however, and Malthusian theory at first seemed justified as excess cultivation and poor soil management created the Dust Bowl of the 1920s and 1930s, and Midwestern farmers themselves faced starvation. A wave of public works programmes was launched to tackle this formidable problem, many under the auspices of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The TVA was one of the most ambitious projects of the Roosevelt New Deal, embracing power generation, agricultural development, and the social and economic improvement of what were described in the 1930s as the “Forgotten Americans.” TVA encountered some setbacks and was involved in many controversies, but it brought electricity to millions of people, and it controlled the floodwaters of the Tennessee River and improved navigation. From its headquarters in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the TVA also worked to devise and promote modern agricultural techniques, and this is perhaps its greatest legacy.

Add to basket


Progress through knowledge with PPI

Summary

PPI/PPIC has a clear mission: to advance the appropriate use of phosphate and potash in crop production systems through the worldwide development and promotion of scientific information that is agronomically sound, economically advantageous and environmentally responsible.How are these objectives being achieved?

Abstract

The Potash & Phosphate Institute (PPI) and the Potash & Phosphate Institute of Canada (PPIC) can trace their origins to the Roosevelt New Deal era, to when the American Potash Institute was founded in 1935. The United States was recovering from the Great Depression and the consequences of the Dust Bowl era. The Dust Bowl lasted throughout the 1930s, and devastated the southern US plains, but the northern plains were also affected by chronic drought, windblown dust and agricultural decline. The Dust Bowl was caused by poor agricultural practices, which exacerbated the effects of years of sustained drought. Plains grasslands had been deeply ploughed and planted to wheat, but the years of abundance appeared to have ended, and nothing grew on the devastated land.

While many people wrung their hands at the suffering of farmers in the Dust Bowl, wiser counsel prevailed. Policymakers recognised the need for agronomic research and farmer education programmes, and parameters were duly set. From the outset, science-based information formed the keystone to the Institute’s programmes. The first president of the organisation was Dr.J.W.Turrentine, a noted chemist and world authority on the production and use of potash. He recognised the vital role that this nutrient plays, but he was equally prescient in his awareness that such a resource needed to be used on a strictly sustainable basis. “Potash use depends on the recognition of its function as a plant food, which is agronomic, and the ability of the farmer to buy his requirement, which is economic. In fact, the agricultural usage of potash must be increased only on the basis that is sound and profitable to the farmer,” he declared.

Add to basket


Kinder Morgan drops anchor

Summary

The story has been one of "all change!" since the last review, in 2000. Enter Kinder Morgan Bulk Terminals (KMBT), which now runs the fertilizer operations at the Port of Longview and is the partner of Canpotex at the Portland Bulk Terminal. KMBT has enjoyed phenomenal growth since it was founded in 1996 by a former Enron senior executive. Can this growth be sustained?

Abstract

Exports of potash and bentonite clay and imports of urea and ammonium sulphate have put the Port of Longview on the map of major west coast fertilizer ports in North America. The Port of Longview is located in south west Washington State, 66 miles up the Columbia River from the Pacific Ocean. The Port district includes the cities of Longview, Kelso, Castle Rock and Toutle. The city of Portland is 40 miles south of Longview, while Seattle is approximately 165 miles north. The Port handles over 2 million t/a of bulk and forest products and is linked by an extensive canal and river system to inland North America, as well as being served by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and Union Pacific rail networks.

The Port covers 538 acres, with 300 acres available for industrial development. In addition to fertilizers and associated raw materials, the leading export products include forest products, calcined coke, soya meal, soda ash, and animal feeds, while the main imported cargoes include steel products, carbon products, magnesite, cotton seed, pulp and garnet sand.

Add to basket


New frontiers for phosphates

Summary

The 26th Annual Memorial Weekend Convention of the Central Florida Section of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) at Clearwater took place on 14-15 June. The event was well attended. John Sinden describes the presentations in Technical Session I.

Abstract

This year’s AIChE Clearwater Conference attracted a grand total of 279 delegates. This must be considered a very good turnout, given recent circumstances (notably the aftermath of 9/11, which has definitely impacted on attendances at so many events, and not only in the fertilizer sector). An even more significant factor affecting attendance at AIChE has been the rationalisation of the fertilizer industry in Florida – the very rationale of the Clearwater meeting. In his paper, Dr. Regis Stana, Industry Professor of the Engineering Research Center at the University of Florida, drew attention to the fact that over 30 companies participated in his first AIChE meeting over 20 years. Just over ten participated in 2002.

Add to basket


China the quiet player in world markets

Summary

China counts as one of the "Big Four" suppliers of phosphate rock, although it perhaps enjoys a lower profile in world markets when compared with the other leading producers, the United States, Morocco and Russia. For many years, China has been almost entirely self-sufficient in phosphate rock and it has recently become a more significant exporter.The country has meanwhile been steadily developing a large-scale downstream phosphate fertilizer manufacturing sector to meet domestic requirements. Does self-sufficiency beckon in this field too?

Abstract

After achieving overall self-sufficiency in urea during the late 1990s, will China do the same for phosphates? The demand for phosphate fertilizers has increased rapidly in the past two decades, from 2 million tonnes P2O5 in the late 1970s to over 9 million t/a today. China currently produces around 70% of its phosphate requirements, using indigenous rock, but much of its output remains in the form of low-analysis products, such as SSP and fused magnesium phosphate (FMP).

According to IFA statistics, China mined an estimated 21.0 million tonnes of phosphate rock in 2001 – an increase of over 1.5 million tonnes on the 2000 total of 19.37 million tonnes. The 2001 total amounts to 17% of the world production of 125.45 million tonnes, compared with 15% in 1999 and 2000. Exports of Chinese phosphate rock have increased substantially during the past two years, rising from 2.42 million tonnes in 1999, 3.45 million tonnes in 2000, to a record 4.91 million tonnes in 2001. (Fig. 1) These exports are destined mainly to other Asian countries (Fig. 2), but Australia and New Zealand have been taking significant quantities, mainly for direct application.

Add to basket


Spurring on the Yichang project

Summary

China's status in international phosphate markets could be transformed if the long-mooted Yichang Phosphate Project comes to fruition. Since 1995, Spur Ventures, Inc. has been the driving force in commissioning studies and is seeking investment partners to bring this ambitious project on stream.

Abstract

The Yichang Phosphate Project in Hubei province is significant for two reasons: it is currently China’s largest phosphate fertilizer project, and it breaks new ground as the first such project to involve a western company as a partner. This company is Spur Ventures, Inc., which is working in close harness with the Chinese authorities to bring the project to fruition.

The Project embraces five deposits containing about 430 million tonnes of phosphate rock resources at an average grade of 21.2% P2O5. The Yichang phosphate district has an average width of 4 km, a strike length of about 70km and a total area of about 300km2. Of ten identified deposits in the district, the Yichang Phosphate Project seeks to exploit the Dianziping, Shukongping, Lixi, Yingiaping and part of the Dingjiahe deposits. The Yichang deposit is a flatlying sedimentary deposit, suitable for low-cost adit access, room-and-pillar mining methods. The floor material below the relatively flat-lying phosphate bed is shale and the roof material is a competent dolomite. The tabular ore bodies are elevated above the surrounding ground, and can be easily accessed through horizontal adits (or tunnels) instead of shafts.

The phosphate bed is divided into three distinctly different layers. The middle layer is the high-grade section, composed of alternating bands of coarse and fine phosphorite, while the bottom layer is composed of banded phosphorite and black potassic shale. The top layer is composed of alternating bands of phosphorite and dolomite. The thickness of each of the three layers ranges from 0 to 4 meters.

Add to basket


Modular construction in the phosphate industry

Summary

Modular construction is gaining in popularity in mainstream project execution. David Leyshon, Consultant to Jacobs Engineering Group, reports on how his company applies it, especially in the current expansion of PCS's Aurora purified phosphoric acid plant.

Abstract

Modular construction of chemical process facilities has reached a new level of productivity at Jacobs Applied Technology in North Charleston, SC. With over 40 years of modular construction experience and a new plant with deep water port facilities, Jacobs Engineering has an impressive record of recent achievements.

Add to basket


Conserving energy in the potash industry

Summary

Energy conservation used to be primarily an economic issue but, with the contemporary concern about the "greenhouse effect", there is ostensibly now an environmental motivation for it too. The potash industry has been looking at the energy-efficiency of some of its procedures.

Abstract

Like most industrial facilities, potash mills require both electric power (mostly for driving machinery) and fuel for heating. And most potash mines are in fairly isolated locations, with little or no neighbouring industry, so there are few opportunities of any kind for integrating utility systems with those of another factory.

The main demand for electricity is in changing the particle size of the material and in separating product and other streams from water after beneficiation, so the grinders, centrifuges or filters, the dryers and the compaction-granulators are all substantial consumers.

Lesser consumers on an individual basis, though not necessarily on a collective one, are the agitators in the flotation system, conveyors and other solids handling machinery, air blowers for the flotation cells, and a variety of circulating pumps for brines and cooling water.

The main demand for heat is for raising the temperature of water or, especially, evaporating it, so the biggest consumers are the dryers and, where one is used, the hot leach/cold crystallisation circuit. Even though conventional rotary dryers are mostly heated directly by exhaust gases from the combustion of a hydrocarbon fuel, plants normally have fuel-fired boilers to raise steam for purposes such as heating leaching liquor and concentrating brines.

Add to basket