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Kao expands its product range

Summary

Over the past couple of years Kao Corporation has been increasing its portfolio of products for the fertilizer industry. In addition to anticaking agents Kao also offers a new range of processing aid agents, corrosion inhibitors and defoamers. Nitrogen reports on the company's recent developments.

Abstract

The Fertilizer Division of Kao Corporation S.A., located in Barcelona, Spain, was established more than 25 years ago with the aim of creating a department able to concentrate its resources on satisfying the requirements of fertilizer manufacturers. In line with company philosophy, the R&D Department has carried out wide ranging studies on all kinds of fertilizers, including: urea, ammonium nitrate, calcium ammonium nitrate, NPKs, PKs, potassium chloride, ammonium sulphate etc., as well as their intermediates, such as nitric acid. These studies have provided Kao with an extensive knowledge of fertilizers and the factors that can affect and change their physical and chemical characteristics, namely handling, transportation and storage.

Kao regards one of its biggest advantages over its many competitors as the ability to manufacture the widest possible range of surfactants, i.e. cationic, anionic and non-ionic surfactants. These surfactants can be developed and tailored to provide the best agent for a particular application.

Kao’s product range for fertilizers includes anticaking agents (the Uresoft and SK Fert ranges), corrosion inhibitors, processing aid agents and defoamers for phosphate processing. Other applications of interest include agents for ore flotation and mineral froth flotation.

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Nitrogen and methanol in South America

Summary

Nitrogen reviews a rapidly expanding region of the world's economy, which shows great potential for future use of nitrogen fertilizers

Abstract

South America is a region which has seen a transformation over the past two de-cades, from a region of military dictatorships and hyperinflation to one of fast growing democratic economies that are rapidly in-tegrating into the global marketplace. In spite of the remaining widespread problem of corruption, the boom times are definitely here for Latin America. Argentina has seen per capita incomes grow by 20% from 1990-1995, and the figure is 30% for Chile. Trade and tariff barriers are also falling; there are now five supranational trade agreements in the Americas; NAF-TA, the North American Free Trade Agreement; Caricom, the Caribbean Community; CACM, the Central American Common Market; the Andean Pact; and Mercosur, the Southern Common Market, comprising Brazil, Ar- gentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. The US government hopes to unite all of these bodies by 2005 into the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas – FTAA. However, the southern countries, led by Brazil, have all suffered from the in-creased competition that Merc-osur, GATT, and some voluntary tariff reductions have brought, and are seeking a slower path to integration than the US.

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The world melamine industry

Summary

Melamine is not just an alternative outlet for urea production; melamine production is also a closely related technology, in that an ammonia-carbon dioxide off-gas mixture must be handled either by recycling to an adjacent urea plant or processing to ammonium nitrate or ammonia. In this article, Dr Willi Ripperger* looks at the production of melamine, its applications, and the current world market for the compound.

Abstract

Melamine was first des-cribed by Liebig in 1834. However, it was not until 100 years later that melamine found industrial interest, when it was discovered that by condensation with formaldehyde instead of urea, condensation products could be obtained which, when used in adhesives, resins or paint systems, showed considerably better properties with regard to, eg, wet strength of the adhesives or weather resistance and gloss of the paints, than products produced from urea-formaldehyde resins.

Until about 1960 melamine was manufactured from dicyandiamide in autoclaves at 10 MPa and 400°C. In 1943, Mackay from American Cyanamide Co. (ACC) had discovered that melamine was obtained by thermal decomposition of urea, by the reaction:

6NH2CONH2 -> Mela + 3CO2 + 6NH3

In 1960, Allied licensed the basic patent from ACC and operated the first urea-based high- pressure non-catalytic melamine plant, with a capacity of 11,000 t/a, in South Point, Ohio from 1962 – 1977. During the same period, Nissan Chemical Industries (Japan) and the former Mont- edison SpA (Italy) developed their own high-pressure non- catalytic processes, which started up in 1964.

Parallel to the high pressure technology, low pressure gas-eous-phase catalytic processes had been developed by BASF, DSM- Stamicarbon and Chemie Linz between 1960 and 1965. Today both types of melamine plants are in operation. All processes using dicyandiamide as raw material were closed or replaced at the end of the 1960s.

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Striving for world class performance

Summary

ICI Katalco demonstrated its continued commitment to improving the operations of methanol plants at IMTOF '97, which was held 15-18 June in San Diego. Detailed investigations and analyses of operating data carried out in collaboration with ICI Katalco's clients have provided a greater understanding of many aspects of the methanol process and have resulted in improved operating practices and new modifications in equipment design.

Abstract

ICI’s Methanol Technology Operators’ Forum (IMTOF) took place this year in San Diego from 15 to 18 June. The event attracted record numbers with representatives from 38 meth-anol plants and 23 countries. Justin McCracken, ICI Katalco’s new Managing Director who took over from Bob Coxon at the end of last year gave the welcoming address. In his opening speech, Justin Mc-Cracken stressed the importance of new developments in reforming technology and also talked of ICI Katalco’s commitment to helping operators improve their existing plants. One of the ways in which ICI Katalco is achieving this is by conducting a worldwide methanol benchmarking survey. The survey is open to all methanol plant operators worldwide, regardless of the methanol process licensor. To date, one-third of all methanol plant op-erators have signed up for the study.

The forum is a biannual event providing a comprehensive update on ICI Katalco’s products and services. The main objective of the meeting is to provide a focal point for communication, enabling operators to make an input of experiences, problems and successes, as well as providing an opportunity to meet informally and develop better contacts. A detailed social programme was also organized.

The remainder of this article focuses on some of the key areas of development that were a major feature of the forum programme.

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1997 Nitric Acid Producers' Meeting

Summary

A report on the 1997 Nitric Acid Producers' Meeting, the 24th to be held, which convened from May 20th 21st, at the Grand Hotel, Biloxi, Mississippi.

Abstract

This year’s Nitric Acid Pro-ducers Meeting, was one of the best ever in almost all aspects of the event. The turnout was over 135, including 13 delegates from eight countries outside North America, and the usual large Canadian presence. The event’s excellent organization was principally due to the hosts, led by Carl Wallace and ably assisted by Clark Liddon and Wendy Weathersby. One of the major successes of the conference was the Mini – Trade Show Hall which the vendors organized between themselves, with Wah Chang and Phoenix personnel playing leading roles.

The management table, con- sisting of Carl Wallace and Clark Liddon of Mississippi Chemicals, Bruce Freidt of ICI Canada, and Scott Kellogg of PCS Nitrogen kept the meeting in order and when necessary stimulated the debates and discussions. The vendors’ presentations this year were for the main part much more technical and informative and much less commercial, and it was easy to see Carl Wallace’s hand in this aspect of the conference. The original programme had eight vendor presentations, of which seven were given. The eighth, which was to have been given by Timothy Wallace of Kenics, was withdrawn as he had not received all of the operating data on their installation. Without this data it would have been just a commercial presentation, so hopefully the complete paper will be given next year.

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Liquid pumps for urea plant service

Summary

Pumps used for the circulation of ammonia/carbamate solutions in urea production have come a long way since the early 1950s. The technological advances made on both reciprocating and centrifugal high pressure units over the last few years, along with continued research into their optimisation, makes the decision for urea producers even more complex. Nitrogen examines the case for each.

Abstract

In 1952 the Italian company Montecatini built a pilot plant for the production of urea from liquid ammonia and carbon dioxide gas at Novara, Italy. It was the beginning of what has grown into a world-wide industry with a combined annual output of many millions of tonnes. Today urea is the predominant nitrogen fertilizer in use throughout the world, and smaller quantities of urea are used for other purposes such as the manufacture of resins and feed supplements for ruminants.

Although urea plants of today are a great deal more sophisticated and efficient, the underlying chemical principle is just the same as it was in that little pilot plant all those years ago. Ammonia and carbon dioxide are combined under elevated pressure and temperature to form ammonium carbamate, which loses a molecule of water to form urea (carbamide), shown below.

The equation indicates that both stages are chemical equilibria, meaning the reaction sequence does not go to completion. In fact, only about 50% of the ammonium carbamate is converted to urea, resulting in a liquid mixture containing urea, ammonium carbamate and dissolved ammonia and carbon dioxide. The only really effective way of recovering the urea is to decompose the unconverted ammonium carbamate back to ammonia and carbon dioxide and to remove them and the water as vapours. Fortunately, the rate of reaction in the equilibrium bet-ween ammonium carbamate and urea is slow, so decomposing the carbamate does not cause any significant loss of product urea.

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Ammonia under the safety spotlight again

Summary

n the US, EPA-proposed Acute Exposure Guideline Levels (AEGLs) for ammonia have become a bone of contention between industry and government. In this article, Robert A. Michaels, PhD, CEP* examines the issues, and looks at the direction the debate may take.

Abstract

In 1984; methyl isocyanate was catastrophically released from a chemical plant in Bhopal, India. The release killed 2,000 local residents and caused ir-reversible injuries to the eyes and lungs of approximately 20,000 others. Governments around the world recognized the need to identify extremely hazardous substances (EHSs) and assist communities to prepare for chemical emergencies6. In the US, the En- vironmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified 366 EHSs, as required by the Community Right- To-Know Act in the 1986 Super-fund Amendments and Reauthor-ization Act. Community emergency planning requirements were imposed under the Risk Manage-ment Program (RMP), in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, Section 112(r).

Some nitrogen-containing chem- icals such as ammonia are included among identified EHSs. This means that nitrogen industry facilities in the US; such as ammonia production, fertilizer production, and ammonia-for-refrigeration facilities; are among an EPA-estimated 66,000 industrial facilities potentially subject to the RMP. Their foreign counterparts can expect to be included in similar programs likely to emerge globally.

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