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

Ammonium nitrate producers' study group meeting - a report

Summary

The ANPSG is an annual forum for the ammonium nitrate industry to meet and discuss common problems.This year's meeting was held in New Orleans from December 3rd - 5th 1996.

Abstract

The meeting got off to an unusual start, in that there were various representatives of non-producers present in the first session. To begin with, it looked as if the policy change adopted by the Nitric Acid Producers’ Meeting had also been incorporated into this meeting.The first morning’s session contained two surprises on the agenda; papers by Blue, Johnson Associates, and Kimre Inc, neither of whom are producers of ammonium nitrate. Another surprise was a request by Jim Schultz of IFDC to be allowed to talk about an investigation into ammonium nitrate which had been commissioned by the US Senate via the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). They wished to make an appeal for cooperation in a survey/questionnaire that was being prepared for ammonium nitrate producers. Mr. Schultz informed the audience that they had the support of TFI (The Fertilizer Institute) regarding the survey.

Add to basket


Ammonia and methanol from coal

Summary

Coal-based plants are generally only viable in special circumstances, where coal is cheap, gas is expensive or unobtainable, and where geography makes it expensive to import nitrogen fertilizer from elsewhere. Lisa Connock reports on the current situation for new coal-based plants worldwide.

Abstract

Synthesis gas derived from coal can be the common precursor for a wide variety of products, including ammonia, methanol and synthetic natural gas. Although coal is generally significantly cheaper than oil or gas – the more common feedstocks for ammonia and methanol plants – its lower cost is rarely sufficient to offset the higher investment cost. As a result, there seems little incentive to utilize coal if cost is the only consideration.

A coal-based ammonia plant costs from 3 to 4 times as much to build as a gas-based plant with the same output, and generally costs more to run and maintain. It also consumes more energy per tonne of product.

Coal-based plants are therefore generally only viable in special circumstances, where coal is cheap, gas is expensive or unobtainable, and where geography makes it expensive to import nitrogen fertilizer from elsewhere. Some countries, for example, South Africa, have little or no oil and gas but so vast a coal reserve that they just cannot ignore coal as a solid fuel. An abundant supply of coal can safeguard against unexpected price hikes and/or supply interruptions, thus improving energy independence. Using indigenous coal also helps to save foreign currency, enabling the import of oil/gas or products (methanol, ammonia etc.) to be reduced or even eliminated. Also, revamping of oil/gas-based ammonia plants will not entail the higher investment costs mentioned above since much of the existing plant can be used.

Add to basket


New HTS catalyst provides greater strength

Summary

ICI Katalco introduced a new HTS catalyst at its Customer's Symposium in Geneva in February 1997. The new Catalyst 71-5 offers a number of advantages for ammonia plant operators. A structural promoter has been used to improve pore size distribution and provide higher activity and the catalyst is significantly more robust and resistant to the typical causes of catalyst failure than previous materials.

Abstract

Following the Nitrogen ‘97 Conference, ICI Katalco held a one day symposium for its syngas catalyst customers. In total nine papers were presented throughout the day covering a range of topics including operating experiences with catalysts, recent operating experiences in steam reforming plants, an update on ICI Katalco’s ammonia technology (the AMV process and the LCA process) and the introduction of a new high temperature shift catalyst, which forms the topic of this article.

Add to basket


All systems go

Summary

Demonstration tests for Air Products' liquid phase methanol process are about to commence at Eastman Chemical Company's Kingsport coal gasification facility site. The plant will demonstrate the production of at least 80,000 gal/day of methanol from coal-derived syngas and will simulate operation for IGCC coproduction of power and methanol.

Abstract

The Liquid Phase Methanol (LPMEOHTM) process uses a slurry bubble column reactor to convert syngas to methanol. Because of its superior heat management, the process is able to be designed to directly handle the carbon monoxide-rich syngas characteristic of the gasification of coal, petroleum coke, residual oil, wastes, or other hydrocarbon feedstocks. When added to an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant, the LPMEOH process converts a portion of the CO-rich syngas produced by the gasifier to methanol and the remainder of the unconverted gas is used to fuel the gas turbine combined-cycle power plant.

The LPMEOH technology was developed during the 1980s, with the financial support of the US Department of Energy (DOE). The concept was proven in over 7,400 hours of test operation in a DOE-owned 3,200 gallons (US) of methanol per day process development unit located at LaPorte, Texas.1 The LPMEOH process is now being demonstrated at commercial scale under the DOE Clean Coal Technology Program. The demonstration plant, located at Eastman Chemical Company’s Kingsport, Tennessee, coal gasification facility site, will demonstrate the production of at least 80,000 gal/day of methanol from coal-derived syngas and will simulate operation for the IGCC coproduction of power and methanol application. Construction began in October 1995 and was completed in December 1996. The plant start-up was initiated in January 1997 and will be followed by a four-year demonstration test period starting in March 1997.

Add to basket


Nitrogen '97 Conference Report

Summary

The Nitrogen 1997 conference was held from the 9th to 11th of February at the Hotel Inter.Continental, Geneva, Switzerland. This marked the return to Europe of British Sulphur's Nitrogen conference for the first time since the Copenhagen conference of 1991.

Abstract

The European nitrogen in-dustry has become accustomed to drastic change over the past few years, much of it painful, and the signs are that the situation is still far from stable. However, with the ongoing liberalisation of the European gas market seeming set to bring lower delivered gas prices, and EU set-aside land back in cultivation, the medium -term prospects for the industry are actually brighter than for some years. In central and eastern Europe, the changes wrought by the demise of communism are still working their way through the economic system. Rising gas and transport prices in the east are beginning to slowly erode the dominance of Russian imports in western Europe, although the ammonium nitrate situation is still causing concern.

It was against this background that British Sulphur’s annual nitrogen conference returned to Geneva, to ponder the present and future situation of the nitro-gen industry, both in Europe and worldwide. The conference also considered methanol, closely related to ammonia in terms of production technology. The Euro-pean methanol situation is also changing rapidly, with one plant about to come onstream in Norway, and the possibility of a second, as well as new project announcements in both the UK and Estonia.

Add to basket


Qafco III comes on stream

Summary

A third ammonia-urea complex, built by a consortium headed by Krupp Uhde, is being inaugurated at Qatar Fertilizer Co's Mesaieed site on 24 March. Nitrogen visited this impressive project in the later stages of its construction.

Abstract

In common with all the countries with coastlines on the Arabian Gulf, Qatar is an oil state, though in comparison with some of its larger neighbours it is not in the biggest league. As a gas state, however, it is a giant. Its North Field offshore gas reservoir is one of the biggest single accumulations of natural gas in all the world, containing about 7% of the entire known world reserves.

Small wonder is it, then, that a considerable amount of export-oriented industrial develop­ment has been taking place in Qatar in recent years. The main industrial zone, which is home to Qatar Fertilizer Co. SAQ (Qafco), is located at Mesaieed (until very recently known as Umm Said), around 60 km down the coast from the capital, Doha. Neighbouring facilities include a petrochemical complex belonging to Qatar Petro­chemical Co. (Qapco) and a gas separation plant. Taking advantage of an expansion of a nearby gas-fired power station, it has been announced that a large vinyl chloride monomer complex, including chlorine/caustic soda facilities, is to be built as a joint venture of Qapco and its parent, Qatar General Petroleum Corporation, with Norsk Hydro (Norway) and Elf Atochem (France)1. A world-scale methanol and MTBE plant will also be built nearby, in which Qatar General Petroleum Corporation (QGPC) will have the majority stake.

Add to basket


The winds of change are still blowing

Summary

In 1993 the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) introduced Order 636, providing for 'unbundling' of gas storage, transmission and distribution. Nitrogen looks at the US gas industry four years on to see how the post-Order 636 gas market is shaping up.

Abstract

At around 30 mmBtu per tonne of ammonia produced, the natural gas price is the major determinant of ammonia prices. Not only that, but just the gas used in ammonia plants, at nearly 11.2 bcm annually, represents around 2% of the United States’ total gas consumption. November 1993 saw the advent of FERC Order 636, which provided for the separation of gas marketing and transmission, and breaking up the monopoly of the pipeline operators by mandating ‘open access’ to pipelines. At the time, the forecasts were for a more diversified, efficient industry providing cheaper gas. Some of this has materialised, but the most identifiable feature of the current US gas market is continuing change. Indeed, change is occurring so rapidly in the natural gas industry that making predictions beyond a year is foolhardy, according to American Gas Association (AGA) Chairman Thomas Fisher.

Add to basket