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Producers step forward

Summary

Today, over 10 million t/a of methanol is transported from producing plant to end-user) and in a bid to gain tighter control of timing and security of delivery and minimise ocean freight costs) offshore producers have increasingly turned to chartered-in vessels dedicated to methanol to ship their product. Lynda Davies reviews the current methanol shipping scene.

Abstract

Thirty-five ~ years ago methanol production was primarily concentrated in the major industrialised countries of Western Europe, the USA and Japan, and international trade in methanol was limited to the occasional small parcel. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, large export-oriented plants started to be built in more remote parts of the world where there was access to less expensive feedstocks. Some of the older, less efficient plants started to be shut down and Canada, Saudi Arabia, Trinidad and New Zealand all became important suppliers to the world's markets.

Consequently the volume of methanol entering deep-sea trade has grown considerably. From lots of a few thousand tonnes and annual volumes of less than 10,000 tonnes in the early 1960s, deep-sea trade today exceeds 10 million tla. Parcel sizes also have increased considerably, with lots of between 15,000 and 40,000 tonnes being regularly transported.

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Interesting times

Summary

The current situation in Russia echoes the Chinese curse); 'May you live in interesting times'. Amid the confusion prevailing in the country) Nitrogen looks at the prospects for Gazprom) the giant gas monopoly that supplies both Russia and much of Europe) and which is in effect responsible for fertilizer prices worldwide.

Abstract

Open political warfare paralyses the country while Boris Yeltsin languishes in a hospital bed. Mafiosi kill each other on the streets while police look on. The economy continues to implode, and non-payment of taxes has topped 50%. One of Russia's biggest ammonia producers has had its gas supply cut off for a week, causing prices to leap $60/t on the international market. According to a recent report by the London-based Merchant International Group, Russia is the riskiest of all world markets to invest in, beating Venezuela, Mexico, Pakistan and Brazil. Bureaucracy, corruption, organised crime and the possibility of a political vacuum were all cited as factors contributing to the rating. And yet the country's largest company has chosen this time to launch a major international share offering. What, then, has driven international investors to put their faith in a company like Gazprom?

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Putting purge gas to work

Summary

In methanol plants a purge gas tube-cooled converter can provide a cost effective means of mopping up carbon oxides .in a methanol synthesis loop purge to give production benefits in the order of 1-10%. Three purge converter schemes are presented by ICI Katalco.

Abstract

Recent developments in catalyst formulation and advances in the design of reactors have enabled the performances of methanol synthesis loops to be continuously improved. However, the useful production capacity of most methanol synthesis loops is limited by a typical loop carbon efficiency to production relationship in which the marginal conversion efficiency decreases with the addition of extra feedstock. ICI Katalco has investigated a number of different purge gas converter schemes for extra conversion capacity.

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Low cost routes to higher methanol capacity

Summary

Hydrogen separated from a tailored methanol synthesis purge gas turns reformed gas from autothermal reforming into an optimal methanol synthesis make-up gas for stand-alone plants. The capacity expansion of an existing, natural gas-based, conventional methanol plant can be maximized by applying parallel autothermal reforming when the hydrogen-rich synthesis make-up gas is exchanged with the carbon-rich autothermal reforming gas. Hermann Gohna of Lurgi describes these process concepts.

Abstract

Following the introduction of the low-pressure methanol process, the majority of methanol plants have been based on the steam reforming of natural gas. In line with rising energy costs, plant designers have been intensifying efforts to devise methanol plants featuring reduced specific feedstock consumption. This has led to the rediscovery of autothermal reforming - a tried and tested technology that was applied for syngas production from natural gas long before steam reforming was invented.

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Pinch and exergy analysis of a fertilizer complex - Part 1

Summary

Peter Radgen of Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research, presents the results of a study aimed at analysing and optimizing a fertilizer complex using two methods - pinch analysis and exergy analysis. Part 1 presents and interprets the results of the pinch analysis. Part 2 will describe the results of the exergy analysis. In both analyses, energy losses are identified and possible alternatives for reduced energy consumption are shown.

Abstract

Since the development of the Haber-Bosch process for industrial ammonia synthesis the energy required to manufacture ammonia has been continuously reduced from approximately 85GJ/t NH3 in the early 1950s to a current level of about 27GJ/t NH3 (see Fig. 1). Despite this reduction, the energy demand is still about 33% above the theoretical minimum required for producing ammonia using the steam reforming route. The energy requirement for urea production is currently about 2GJ/t urea, not taking into account the energy needed to compress the carbon dioxide to synthesis pressure.

In an extensive study2 conducted at the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research, Karlsruhe, Germany, pinch analysis and exergy analysis were used to identify possibilities for further energy optimization of a modern fertilizer complex. The ammoniaurea complex studied was designed and built by Uhde of Dortmund, Germany and went into operation in 1992 in Belle Plaine, Canada3 • The site consists of a single- train ammonia plant with a capacity of 1,500 tid ammonia and a single-train urea plant with a capacity of 2,000 tid urea. The major part of the ammonia produced (1, 160 tid) as well as most of the carbon dioxide are used as raw materials for the production of urea.

Pinch analysis was developed in the early 1980s by Linnhof and has since proved to be an effective method for optimizing the heat integration of production plants.4 ,s,6 In this study, all the relevant stream data were extracted from the process flow diagrams of the plants. Heat duties and inlet/outlet temperatures were used for stream data calculations. The calculations of the composite curves and the grand composite curve were made using pinch analysis software.? The study began by analysing the ammonia and the urea plant separately and continued with an analysis of the whole site.

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