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Feathers in our cap

Summary

A major supplier of potassium sulphate is about to enter the lists, as Big Quill Resources prepares to raise production capacity at its facility in Wynyard, Saskatchewan to 350,000 tla. These investments justify the faith of the development team which bought the original pilot plant from pes in 1991. FI found out more about what promises to be a remarkable story...

Abstract

Canada's largest producer of potassium sulphate, Big Quill Resources Inc., plans to raise output at its Wynyard, Saskatchewan facility to 55,00t> tla with immediate effect, and to 100,000 tla by May 1999. The company was established in 1991, when a group of PCS employees bought the K2S04 pilot plant set up by Potash Corp. ofSaskatchewan (PCS). The plant is located on the southern shore of Big Quill Lake, 6 miles west ofWynyard, and uses a unique ion exchange and glaserite technology to produce what the company claims is the putest potassium sulphate in the world. The ion exchange process uses sulphate in brine form, from Big Quill Lake, and KCl. These salts are combined to produce a 99.9% pure potassium sulphate, with chloride contents as low as 0.02%. In the glaserite process, anhydrous sodium sulphate is used with KCl. The product is 97-98% pure, with a chloride content of 0.02% and 51% K20. The glaserite product has been devised for use in industrial applications, including the gypsum sector, as well as in the granular and soluble agricultural K2S04 markets. The glaserite production process also produces almost equal amounts of highpurity sodium chloride as a by-product of the evaporation process installed at the new plants.

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A silver anniversary

Summary

For more than 25 years, AB Sandvik Steel has supplied special stainless steels, tailor-made for fertilizer plants. When the new stripping technology was introduced for increased efficiency of urea plants, special alloys were simultaneously developed and introduced to withstand the severe corrosive conditions for this application. This article, based on the Paper by P. Tangos and K. Tersmeden, which was presented at British Sulphur Publishing's Asia Nitrogen Conference, describes the latest developments in Sandvik's special steel products.

Abstract

A new development during the past decade has been the bimetallic tubing fo r high-pressure strippers in Snamprogetti-designed urea plants. The combination ofa stainless steel outer layer in grade 2RE69, combined with a mechanically-bonded inner layer of Zirconium 702, is foreseen to increase the service life of the stripper substantially, from rypically less than ten years to more than 20 years when using bimetallic tubing.

For new urea plants, and when older plants are revamped, the use of special stainless steels like 2RE69 and bimetallic tubes is increasing. Today, special stainless steel grades are often specified also for high-pressure piping, plates and other items in the high-pressure parts in urea plants. The special grade 2RE69 is recommended instead of AlSf 3I6L Urea Grade in order to increase the service life of new urea plants and also to increase the lifetime of older plants when they are revamped.

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Quality products, quality partnerships

Summary

Within the past two decades, the quality of granular and prilled fertilizers has been considerably improved by better production methods. Product quality has also been improved by the use of modern coatings, which give good anti-caking effects, reduce water uptake and suppress dusting. Further advances in coating systems continue, and several companies have specialised in developing coating agents that have been formulated specifically for the fertilizer sector, as described here.

Abstract

Dust is an unavoidable by-product of the fertilizer manufacturing process, and it is also generated when product is transported and stored. Excessive dust poses a major environmental and safety problem, and may also jeopardise the efficient working ofthe fertilizer plant and associated equipment, and these factors have prompted the industry to use specialised coating agents in order to curtail dust levels.

The size of the fertilizer granule has a direct relationship to dust levels and dust comrol, and an overall smaller size distribution will result in an increased number of granules per unit volume. (Fertilizer Dust and Dust Control Coating Agents. Paper presented by Mark Ogzefwalla, ARR-MAZ Products, at 45th Annual Meeting of the Fertilizer Industry Round Table, 1995). An increased number of granules results in more contact points between surfaces and more rough edges to break off and form dust. The surface area of the fertilizer also increases substantially as the granule size falls. Thus, a fertilizer with a larger surface area will require increased an increased rate of application of coating agent.

Another influence on dust formation is the shape and texture of the fertilizer particles. Rough and irregular-shaped granules have larger surface areas than round granules, and these are also more difficult to cover effectively with a coating agent. Although complete coverage"of the granule may not be necessary to control dust, a minimum part of the surface must be treated for the coating agent to be effective.

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The signals turn to caution

Summary

Nitrogen fer.tilizer producers throughout the world are bracing themselves for further falls in urea prices, which are predicted to reach a ten-year low imminently. Gas costs of less than $llmmBtu give the urea producers of the Middle East a unique advantage, and the Arab Gulf region is becoming an increasingly important player in the global fertilizer industry. However, all is not plain sailing for the region's fertilizer producers, as outlined in this review.

Abstract

The oil-rich countries of the Arab Gulf have been forced to undertake a fundamental reappraisal of their economic and strategic goals, as three factors combine to cast a shadow over plans to invest in further downstream capacity. Lower oil prices and lower export volumes have led the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Finance to estimate that regional oil revenues will be down by at least 30% this year. Saudi Arabia had taken early steps to reduce its reliance on exports of crude oil, and Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABle) was formed in 1976 to create world-scale industries that would harness the Kingdom's massive reserves of hydrocarbon resources as feedstocks and fuel to manufacture added-value petrochemical commodities, including nitrogen fertilizers.

Cheap gas and the ability to harness the world's fastest-growing markets promised to give Saudi Arabia and its Arab Gulf neighbours an unassailable advantage in international fertilizer markets, but China's sharply-reduced urea offtake from a peak of 8 million tla has impacted on export volumes, at a time when urea prices have been in steady decline. The financial crisis in other Asian importing countries has further compelled the Arab Gulf fertilizer exporters to revise their forecasts of demand, and they are looking to alternative markets to place tonnage. This quest for new fertilizer markets takes place against a background of a global surplus of the potential supply of urea over demand, which is expected to persist at least until 2001.

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The service behind the surface

Summary

KCH Keramchemie (UK) Ltd. was established in 1989, but the company's pedigree extends much further, and forms the basis of its undisputed position as the leader in corrosion management through surface protection. KCH's particular speciallisation involves the protection of buildings and plant installations against damage which may be caused by exposure to aggressive media due to their storage or use in production processes. The company's range of services of products are reviewed in this article.

Abstract

KCH's expertise in this field has enable.d it to offer a unique t~tal corrosiOn management servIce, whereby it undertakes complete responsibility for advising, designing, supplying and installing surface protection systems. KCH has gained an impressive portfolio of clients, covering a wide range of processing industries, including:

  • J->harmaceuticals
  • Chemicals and petrochemicals
  • Fertilizers
  • Steel
  • Power generation
  • Food and drink processing
  • Water utilities.

KCH offers not only in-depth service that is tailored to customers' specific requirements, but if appropriate, it can draw on the strengths of the individual members of the diversified KCH group - including the R&D department at the Keramchemie head office, in Siershahn, Germany. There, a working group devotes its time exclusively to the Surface Technology Division, developing new products and corrosion protection systems, as well as optimising existing products and systems.

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