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Publication > Issue > Articles

The South African fertilizer industry

Summary

To coincide with the 1996 IFA Technical Conference being held in Johannesburg, September 30 to October 4, Nitrogen takes a look at the South African fertilizer industry and the current market situation.

Abstract

For the first time in many years, the modd in the South African fertilizer industry is buoyant. Following good rains over virtually the entire country and the restoration of water reserves, agricultural prospects are greatly improved. Unfortunately however, uncertainties regarding issues such as land ownership, land redistribution, new labour legislation and farm security remain a major concern. Nevertheless, early indications are that a growth of around 6% in nutrient consumption in 1996 is possible. Indeed, with the freeing up of marketing policies and a higher level of international competition now facing farmers, greater attention will have to be given to ensuring that fertilizer and lime application levels are optimal. The level of technoeconomic input in agricultural production will require a sustained leap in quality if the farming industry is to maintain a competitive edge against import threats of farm products. For this to happen, the utilization of riatural resources will have to take place at a much higher level of efficiency than has been the case at any time in the past.

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Ammonia Casale celebrates 75 years

Summary

This year, Ammonia Casale will be celebrating its 75th Anniversary. From November 11th-13th the company will be holding an anniversary symposium at their home base at Lugano in Switzerland. Nitrogen looks at the milestones of the past 75 years, as well as the current activities of Ammonia Casale and its affiliates.

Abstract

Ammonia Casale SA was founded in 1921, taking its name from Dr Luigi Casale, who had developed a novel high pressure process for the production of synthetic ammonia. lbe two processes in use at the beginning of the century (the calcium cyanamide and electric arc processes) had the disadvantages of consuming large amounts of electricity (around 6-18 times current energy consumption) and requiring high capital investment.

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The global market for urea

Summary

Urea continues to be the most popular nitrogen fertilizer in use, and is steadily gaining ground compared to other alternatives. It is particularly favoured in the expanding economies of Asia, and looks set to continue its inexorable rise.

Abstract

U rea is without a doubt the most important nitrogenbased fertilizer in the world today. According to IFA figures, in the 1973/74 growing season, urea represented 21% of global nitrogen consumption. In the 1982/83 season this had grown to 31.6%, and by the 1992/93 season the proportion had increased to 42.1 %. The reasons for this continuing spectacular growth in urea consumption relative to other fertilizers is principally due to two major factors. The first is its relatively high nitrogen content. At 46% by weight, this is much higher than ammonium nitrate at 33.5% or ammonium sulphate at 20%, which therefore makes it the most economical nitrogen fertilizer in terms of shipping. The second factor is urea's relative ease of handling compared to, for example, ammonium nitrate.

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Safe production, handling and storage of ammonium , nitrate

Summary

Although the question is still open in the USA as regards ammonium nitrate's exact role in the tragedies at the UIOrU Trade Center, Oklahoma City and Port Neal, these events clearly show why the product must be treated with due care and respect. After the incidents cited above there has been a renewed emphasis on all aspects of safety both in the initial phase of production of the solution, and in the secondary phase; its transformation into finished product

Abstract

Although the question is still open in the USA as regards ammonium nitrate's exact role in the tragedies at the UIOrU Trade Center, Oklahoma City and Port Neal, these events clearly show why the product must be treated with due care and respect. After the incidents cited above there has been a renewed emphasis on all aspects of safety both in the initial phase of production of the solution, and in the secondary phase; its transformation into finished product

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Corrosion control in urea plants

Summary

A greater understanding of the corrosion phenomena caused by ammonium carbamate in the HP synthesis section of urea plants means that plant owners can now expect typical lifetimes of more than 20 years for critical items of process equipment, provided that they have been manufactured according to the strict material specifications and recommended fabrication procedures of the urea process licensors. Lisa Connock reports.

Abstract

Since the advent of industrial urea processes based on the direct reaction between ammonia and carbon dioxide, designers and urea plant owners have had to deal with the problems of corrosion. Although pure urea solutions are not very corrosive, ammonium carbamate (an intermediate in urea synthesis) is a highly corrosive liquid. For example, carbon steel in contact with carbamate solutions will corrode at a rate of more than 900 mm/year. A corrosion-resistant layer made of a special type of stainless steel is therefore required to protect carbon steel pressure vessel walls in the urea synthesis section.

In the early days corrosion problems were so serious that for many years they compromised not only the good performance of urea plants (safety, on-stream factor, product quality), but even further improvement of the process itself. Corrosion of a major item of high-pressure equipment can result in leaks, rupture or. even explosion.

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