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A Spanish pioneer with a global reach

Summary

Incro S.A. is a notable Spanish success story, as the company has patented and licensed a major portfolio of process technology.As described here, this technology enjoys numerous applications around the world, and it continues to be developed to meet contemporary needs.

Abstract

While Incro S.A. was founded in 1975 by S.A. Cros (now transformed as Fertiberia) and the Spanish engineering company, INTECSA, the company can trace its ancestry back to 1817, when Francisco Cros established a pioneering chemical plant in Badalona. Ownership of Incro today is split 50:50 between Fertiberia and Intecsa-Uhde Industrial S.A. Fertilizers were a key part of the S.A. Cros portfolio, and its engineering arm has enjoyed considerable success in patenting and licensing process technology.

Among Incro’s most widely licensed technologies is the pipe reactor production of granulated fertilizers. This technology is employed in 16 of Fertiberia’s DAP and NPK fertilizer plants, with a total installed capacity of over 3 million t/a, and in 40 MAP, DAP and NPK plants throughout the world, accounting for an aggregate capacity of over 12 million t/a. A total of 45 Incro pipe reactors have been successfully commissioned, ranging in capacity from 10 t/h to 110 t/h, and using most sources of phosphoric acid. Incro scrubbing systems are likewise to be found at fertilizer plants throughout the world, and a total of 24 such Incro-licensed systems have now been installed.

Incro engineering expertise extends to the production of liquid NPKs and nitrogen fertilizers. Five liquid NPK plants employ Incro technology. In addition to installing Incro ammonium nitrate reactors at five locations, plus concentration and scrubbing units, Incro engineers have also carried out eight revamps of AN and CAN plants.

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PIC invests in a threefold rise in loading capacity

Summary

Coinciding with its project to debottleneck its urea production facilities at Shuaiba, Petrochemical Industries Co. (PIC), Kuwait, has taken the opportunity to upgrade its handling and shiploading facilities at the complex. Krupp Fördertechnik has won this contract to modernise the facilities that have given sterling service since the German engineering company installed them over 20 years ago.

Abstract

The Mining Business Unit of Krupp Fördertechnik has been awarded the turnkey contract for modernising and expanding the capacity of the existing urea handling and export facilities of Petrochemical Industries Co. (PIC), Kuwait. The contract comprises the renewal and an increase in handling capacity of the existing belt conveyor system which transport urea from the production complex to several warehouses and from there to various bagging and export facilities. A total of 16 belt conveyors with a belt width of between 650-1,000mm will be delivered. These will have capacities of between 85- 500t/h, with a total conveying length of approximately 5km. In addition, three existing belt conveyors with a conveying length of approximately 3km will be renewed and supplied with new power trains.

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Fast service from Vostochnyy

Summary

The countries of South and East Asia account for an increasing proportion of Russia's potash exports. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, the product had been shipped mainly from ports in the Baltic or the Black Sea.Voyages typically took several weeks. Now, following the opening of a dedicated terminal in the Far Eastern port of Vostochnyy, voyage times have been considerably accelerated, as Michael Freeman reports.

Abstract

Unfold the map of Russia and find the Urals, the massive range of mountains that extends from the frozen north to the deserts of Central Asia, separating European Russia from Siberia and the Far East. The Urals are home to large and diverse reserves of minerals and the industries that exploit them. They include the world’s biggest potash industry, with seven mines that together have a capacity of some 10 million t/a KCl.

This industry was established and built up in the Soviet era, primarily to meet the nutrient needs of agriculture in the USSR and in the neighbouring European countries that were then under Communist control. Potash was also seen as a potential source of hard currency revenue, and an export terminal was established at the Latvian port of Ventspils to handle potash trade with the Atlantic Rim countries.

The collapse of the Communist system and of the central planning that characterised it transformed the potash industry’s situation, forcing it to develop export sales to replace the demand that had disappeared from its domestic and traditional regional markets. To an increasing degree, Asian markets came to dominate Russia’s KCl exports, so that by 2001, some 4.2 million tonnes were being shipped to these markets, not only from Ventspils, but also from several other Baltic and Black Sea ports. (Fig.1)

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Phosagro's bright future

Summary

The decade following the break-up of the Soviet Union was a traumatic period for the region's agri-food sector, reflecting the social and economic upheavals that followed. The most recent news from the Russian Federation is altogether more encouraging, however, as a revitalised farming sector is beginning to emerge.The indigenous fertilizer industry is playing a major role in this transformation, via the Phosagro consortium of Russian phosphate fertilizer producers. Nina Khangaldian, Head of the Marketing Department of JSC Apatit, outlines the objectives of Phosagro – and the successes it has achieved to date.

Abstract

Phosagro was officially registered in October 1999 as a non-commercial organisation to promote the development Russian agriculture through the application of phosphate fertilizers produced from Kola apatit. The idea for creating Phosagro came one year previously, at the annual meeting of Russian phosphate fertilizer producers. They agreed to establish a national association of phosphate fertilizer manufacturers that would work in close conjunction with the agricultural sector to promote a greater measure of food security by making more effective use of Russia’s natural resources.

Phosagro has drawn together some 20 leading enterprises and organisations involved in the production, distribution and consumption of phosphate fertilizers. Phosagro also enjoys strong links with NIUIF, the Russian research institute for mineral fertilizers. At the heart of the Association are such companies as JSC Apatit, JSC Voskresenskiye and Balakkovskiye, and JSC Ammophos (operator of the Cherepovets complex). These companies account for approximately 90% of Russia’s total phosphate fertilizer production capacity. Mr. Yuri Evdokimov, the governor of Murmansk, was elected President of the Association, and Mr. A. Gorbachev was elected Vice-President.

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How to make nutrients work effectively

Summary

Barely half of the nitrogen released by fertilizers is actually taken up by the plant.The remainder is lost to the atmosphere or leaches into the soil and sometimes into the groundwater. The fertilizer industry recognises that it must seek ways of increasing the efficiency of its products. Several options are open to the manufacturers.

Abstract

While intensive agricultural systems have enabled a current world population of 6.1 billion to enjoy unprecedented levels of food security, there is a growing realisation that such systems carry a price. At the heart of modern agriculture are high levels of fertilizer applications, principally of nitrogen fertilizers. However, less than half of the nitrogen supplied in the form of N fertilizers is taken up by the plant: the remainder is lost through leaching and to the atmosphere. These losses are exacerbated by the effects of run-offs from livestock wastes, raising national and international concern about the potentially adverse effects of excess N levels on environmental quality and public health.

The ultimate fear is that significant increases in nitrous oxide (N2O) concentrations will cause the destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer and add to the greenhouse effect associated with the continuing increase in atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and CH4. (The Nitrogen Cycle and the Environment, Katsu Minami, National Institute of Agro-Environmental Sciences, Japan. Paper presented at IFA Regional Conference for Asia, December 2000.)

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COMPO wins the accolades

Summary

A recent addition to the Kali und Salz fold is the speciality fertilizer producer, COMPO. Controlled-release fertilizers are spearheading COMPO's marketing drive, and are making a major contribution to the success of the group overall.

Abstract

Since being integrated into the operations of Kali und Salz AG (K+S) at the end of 1999, the COMPO business division has proved to be a veritable crown jewel in the company’s extensive portfolio of added-value fertilizer products and services. In the year to December 2001, COMPO achieved sales of m436.2 million ($386 million), representing 20% of the K+S total of m2.17 billion. It is the fastest growing segment within K+S, and has given the German group a valuable foothold in the speciality fertilizer sector. Welcoming COMPO to the K+S fold, Dr. Ralf Bethke, Chairman, said: “COMPO has not only increased our volume and profitability, but has also provided us with a new strategic platform with a profitable product mix for leisure, hobby and sports needs.”

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A widening portfolio

Summary

Tessenderlo Group is a truly worldwide chemicals group with 112 branches in 22 countries.About 8,000 people work for the group, which is a European or world leader in most of its product areas. Speciality and controlled-release fertilizers are a core activity, and Tessenderlo is the world's third-ranking supplier of potassium sulphate and Number One in Europe for feed phosphates.

Abstract

Tessenderlo Group is a major supplier of controlled-release fertilizers, marketing slow-release nitrogen (SRN) fertilizer solutions under the TRIAZONE™ and TRISERT™ brandnames. TRIAZONE™slow-release nitrogen products have been devised to satisfy the nutritional needs of the plant, while the TRISERT™range of foliar fertilizers provides a wide selection of N, P and K blends for broadacre and speciality crops. Tessenderlo also markets the firsTurf ® brand of turf nutrients solutions, which have been specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of highly cultivated turf on golf courses, sports fields, race tracks and bowling greens.

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Soil K mining is harming the WANA region

Summary

It is very easy, from the perspective of the developed western world, to become complacent about global food security. Despite the advances of the "Green Revolution" in leading to a sustained increase in primary food production, the battle is by no means won, and there is a considerable danger that many recent gains will actually be lost if certain issues are not addressed as a matter of urgency. One of the most important of these issues is unbalanced fertilisation.As Dr.Adolf Krauss, Director of the International Potash Institute (IPI) notes, one of the consequences of unbalanced fertilisation is soil mining, which is especially prevalent in the West Asia/North African region. His clarion call to address this issue was made at the recent Arab Fertilizer Association (AFA) Annual Meeting in Cairo, and is published here in full.

Abstract

 The distinguishing characteristics of the WANA region, which comprises the countries of West Asia and North Africa, are:

A rapidly rising population

  • Increasing urbanisation
  • Declining availability of land for agriculture
  • Extreme arid/semi-arid climatic conditions.

The population of the WANA region has almost doubled every 25 years from about 143 million in 1960 to currently 400 million and will increase further to almost 600 million by 2020. Compared with the Asian regions and Latin America, the WANA region has the highest relative population increase, surpassed only by Sub- Saharan Africa.

The share of people living in urban areas increased from 32% in 1960 to currently 60%, and will increase further to almost 70% in 2020. (Fig. 1) The cultivated land area (arable land and permanent crops) increased in the past 40 years only slightly to about 100 million ha. Compared with the rapid demographic development, land availability has declined in last 40 years from 0.6 ha per capita to currently 0.25 ha.

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IRRI targets site-specific applications

Summary

Best known for its work in developing new strains of rice, the latest initiative of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) represents a significant change in direction. IRRI launched its programme called Reaching Toward Optimal Productivity in Intensive Rice Systems in 1994. Phase III of the programme is now well under way, and is paying particular attention to increasing the effectiveness of the nutrients applied by rice farmers. David Hayes describes the progress so far.

Abstract

Following six years of research in fields and the laboratory, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) – based in Los Banos, Luzon, in the Philippines – recently launched the third phase of its programme called Reaching Toward Optimal Productivity in Intensive Rice Systems. This programme has been designed to introduce site-specific fertilizer application recommendations to raise rice yields throughout Asia. Site-specific nutrient recommendations are now being prepared that farmers can fine-tune for use on individual farms across Asia. The results will be monitored to ensure that improved rice harvests will be achieved.

IRRI’s research has shown that Asian rice farmers currently achieve only about 60% of the yield potentially obtainable with present rice varieties. As a result, there are considerable opportunities to achieve further increases in yield to meet growing food demands in Asia and to increase the profitability of rice farming.

Currently, over 90 % of the world’s annual rice production is grown in Asia. Out of the total global rice production, 75 % is produced from irrigated land, which accounts for 50% of all land under rice production.

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At the crossroads of energy, environment, and agriculture

Summary

The success of the US Clean Air Act and similar legislation in Europe has created evidence of sulphur deficiency on the farm, and accumulating sulphur stockpiles elsewhere. Hondo Chemical has shown that sulphur products derived from a particular process, the iron-redox (LO-CAT®) sulphur removal plant, can produce sulphur-based agricultural products with superior results compared with products based on sulphur from more conventional sources, such as Claus plants. Doug Heguy, Sales and Marketing of Gas Technology Products LLC, has teamed with Farrell Neeley, a licensed engineer in ­hazardous waste abatement, and Jess Karr, to describe these latest developments.

Abstract

As the world economy has developed, so has the need for energy, in all its forms. However, not all energy is created equal, and it has come at a cost, in both economic and environmental terms. This is true for oil, gas, coal, and even geothermal energy. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Ironically, all these energy sources have one common denominator that world energy supplies bear in ever increasing quantity: sulphur.

Sulphur isn’t necessarily bad. Without it, no life that presently exists on the planet could have come into being. While people and plants both need sulphur to survive, sulphur is sometimes present in the wrong places, at the wrong times, in the wrong chemical forms, and in the wrong quantities. Where the need for energy, life, and sulphur collide is in the production and consumption of energy. The conversion of energy converts the sulphur, often in the form of toxic hydrogen sulphide, into oxides of sulphur (SOx). Sulphur oxides are key culprits in the formation of photochemical smog and acid rain – the unpleasant side effects of our industrial society.

Driven by the Clean Air Act and other similar local, state, federal, and international legislation, industries around the world have searched for the past 30 years for better ways to remove the various sulphur by-products from exhaust gases. Numerous processes were developed to remove S from both gas and liquid hydrocarbon streams, including the Claus, LO-CAT ® and Stret­ford processes for gas streams, and Mericat ® and Merox ® units for liquid streams. Ironi­cally, these pro­cesses were so effective at removing sulphur compounds from ex­haust gas streams that the agricultural industry, which previously attained almost all the sulphur it needed from the atmosphere via smokestacks and vehicle exhausts, suddenly found itself short of sulphur, and experienced yield losses due to sulphur nutrient deficiencies for the first time since the industrial revolution.

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Selenium in a new light

Summary

For long condemned as a toxic element, selenium is now gaining recognition as an essential element in the human diet and for livestock. A long-term decline in the levels of selenium in the food chain has prompted a reappraisal of the importance of this trace element to the health and profitability of dairy cows and the positive effects Se can have in humans in helping to lower the risk of some cancers and heart disease.

Abstract

Selenium (Se) is a non-metallic element related to sulphur and tellurium. Although it is toxic, it is an essential nutrient for human beings. Selenium is rarely found in its natural state, but combines instead with both metals and non-metals to form organic and inorganic compounds. It is un­evenly dispersed in the earth’s soil, and is mainly found in sedimen­tary rock in the world’s drier regions, including the western United States of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Montana. (McKinley Sielaff, University of Wyoming) Some high selenium areas have also been found in Queensland, Australia.

Selenium is an essential trace element in human and animal nutrition, and as a mineral anti-oxidant, Se protects cell tissue from injury caused by oxygen. It plays an active role in immune systems and minimises danger from viral infections. It is also important for growth and to ensure proper metabolism, and it improves sperm count in males. Se has also been shown to slow down the advancement and spread of cancer.

As a micronutrient, not much Se is needed to maintain good health, and excessive consumption of more than the recommended 50-150 mg/day can lead to health problems. Se is five times more poisonous than arsenic, and Se dosage and accumulation are finely balanced between safe and dangerous limits. Toxic levels are about 100 times the required levels.

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