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A million-tonne market

Summary

European efforts to clean atmospheric sulphur have created a new market for the fertilizer industry. Kemira Agro UK's Arable Product Manager Richard Finch explains the rise and rise of sulphur fertilizers.

Abstract

"Sulphur's deposition levels have fallen dramatically in Europe over the last decade, increasingly depriving farmland soils ofa vital crop nutrient," Richard Finch said. In 1970, more than 7 million tonnes of atmospheric sulphur were deposited on British soils. By 2008, levels are expected to fall to less than 1 million tonnes. k a result, most areas of British farmland now receive less than 50 kg/ha of atmospheric 503 - the level at which many crops start to respond to sulphur.

"When the soil fails to supply sufficient sulphur, a deficiency can occur, limiting protein synthesis and growth. The result can be a real limiting factor in producing crop yield, with potential losses of up to 20%," Richard Finch said. Worst affected are oilseed rape and second-stage silage crops in areas of light soils and high rainfall. But sulphur deficiency is spreading, and responses to sulphur fertilizers are now being seen in winter cereals, vegetables, potatoes and many other crops.

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Emerging without a struggle

Summary

For several years, the Dutch ports ofTerneuzen and Vlissingen have prospered by attracting niche business to their location on opposite banks of the Scheidt. In comparison with the nearby ports ofAntwerp and Rotterdam, Terneuzen and Vlissingen were minor players, but both ports have gained an enviable reputation for providing excellent service and a dedicated workforce. They have now joined forces to form Zeeland Seaports, and have embarked on a major investment programme to attract more business. This article describes how Zeeland Seaports intends to consolidate its status in a highly competitive market.

Abstract

"Luctor et Emergo" is the motto of the Dutch province of Zeeland: "I Struggle and Emerge". This is made graphic by the region's heraldic coat ofarms, which depicts a lion rampant rising out of the sea. Such a slogan accurately summarises the illustrious history of Zeeland and' her astonishing inhabitants, who for generations strove to achieve fertility and prosperity from a land that was lashed bywinter storms and vulnerable to flooding. The coastal farmers proved to be exceptionally hardy, as they were determined to survive and thrive. Although life has been easier for Zeelanders in recent decades, the legacy ofa powerful work ethos remains unabated, and this factor has been a major ingredient in the region's economic success.

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Just a mirage?

Summary

Egypt has a long-established domestic fertilizer industry, but despite the availability of offshore supplies of natural gas, plus indigenous phosphate rock resources, the country has fallen short of achieving self-sufficiency in fertilizers. This situation appeared to change following the promotion of a series of expansion projects, but no sooner were they mooted when their commercial prospects were thrown into doubt by the downturn in international markets.

Abstract

T he Abu Qir gas field, offshore of Alexandria, and the phosphate deposits in the Nile Valley, Western Desert and the Red Sea region, have enabled Egypt to build up a significant fertilizer industry. The doyen of the indigenous fertilizer producers is Societe Financiere et Industrielle d'Egypte (SFIE), which commenced production ofsulphuric acid and SSP in 1937.Today, state-ownedSFIE operates two plants, one at Kafr EI-Zayat and the other at Asylit, which came on stream in 1970. Capacity at Kafr EI-Zayat comprises 300,000 tla SSP and 160,000 tla of sulphuric acid. The Asylit complex also produces up to 300,000 tla ofSSP, supplemented by 170,000 tla of sulphuric acid. Also part of SFIE's product portfolio are micronutrient foliar fertilizers, ferrous sulphate, fluosilisic acid and fluosilicate.

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Staying ahead of the field

Summary

Twenty eight years have now elapsed since Qatar Fertiliser Co. (QAFCO) was first established, and the company has been a keystone in the Arab Gulf state's industrial development. From the outset, QAFCO established partnerships with the leading international companies in the fields of gas, petrochemicals and fertilizers, harnessing the most modern technology to ensure that its plants match the world's best.

Abstract

QAFCO was set up in 1969 with a capital ofQR 57 million. Its Ammonia I and Urea I plants first began production at Umm Said in December 1973. Nameplate capacities were respectively 900 tid and 1,000 tid. In 1979,QAFCOII was inaugurated, raising total production capacity to 2,200 tid of ammonia and 2,300 tid of urea. Since then, production at the plants has been stepped up to atotal 130%ofdesign capacity, as operating efficiencies have been raised to exceptionally high levels. Three years ago, QAFCO's two shareholders Qatar General Petroleum Corp. (75%) and Norsk Hydro - decided to increase the share capital to QR 609 million in order to pave the way for the third stage in QAFCO's planned expansion. The QAFCO III plant was inaugurated on 24 March 1997, doubling the total production capacity to 3,800 tid ofammonia and 4,500 tid of granular urea. The project also included the provision of a 500 m long jetty, from where the largest vessels can be loaded at a rate of 1,000 t/h.

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New criteria

Summary

Urea Reactor Efficiency has become an important measure of how economically a urea reactor can operate with various operating conditions and processes. This article, by Ivo Mavrovic of the US company, Urea Technologies Inc. (UTI), is particularly timely, as it describes new criteria for assessing urea plant efficiency.

Abstract

In recent years, innovations in the design of urea reactors have enabled fertilizer manufacturers to choose between several alternative urea synthesis techilOlogies. When selecting a process, the ultimate criterion is urea reactor efficiency: that is, how economically a reactor can operate in a range of operating coriditions and processes. The higher the urea reactor efficiency, the higher the reactor conversion ofCO2 to urea pet reactor pass at a givenNHiC02 and H20/C02 mol ratio, and consequently the lower the overall plant investment cost and utility consumption.

The theoretical principles of the production of urea based on NH3 and CO2 intermediates were first described by Frejacques some 50 years ago. In his experiments, NH3 and CO2 were introduced under pressure into an empty batch-type container (autoclave) at temperatures of between 150-200°C, and analysed for urea after 30-60 minutes of retentio.n time in the autoclave.

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