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New format for nitric acid meeting

Summary

The twenty-fourth Nitric Acid Producers' Meeting took place in Banfh Canada~ on May 28th and 29th. This year~ for the first time~ there were short presentations by several suppliers to the industry to discuss new innovations and new products. John Sinden of JEATech reports on the presentations and the reception that they received.

Abstract

This year's Nitric Acid Producers' Meetihg introduced a new feature - vendors' technical presentations, which had been agreed to during the previous year's meeting at Lincoln, Nebraska. !bese took the form of six carefully-selected companies each giving a short technical presentation, in two sessions on the first afternoon of the meeting. !be idea behind this timing was that it would give any interested delegates a chance to speak with the vendor in their hospitality suite that evening to clarify any outstanding points.

The six presentations had been selected by an informal management panel that this year's host; ICI Carlseland, represented by Bruce Friedt, had put together to help with the item. The six companies were, respectively: Engelhard - Clal, W.L. Gore Associates, and Koch Engineering in the first session, and P.G.P. Industries, Praxair, and Haynes International in the second.

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A lower cost design for urea

Summary

Stamicarbon's new Urea 2000plus process zs available for licensing. This new process employs novel pool condenser technology to provide a simpler flow sheet for urea synthesis and a lower investment cost. In this article we describe the main process features and the developments that led to the new pool reactor design.

Abstract

In May 1996 Stpmicarbon, the licensing subsidiary of DSM, launched an improved version of its well established CO2 stripping urea process with the introduction of the "pool reactor" concept. The new process which still operates by CO2 stripping has been named the Urea 2000plus™ process. It was developed for lower investment cost, but without sacrificing any of the advantages of the CO2 stripping technology. It differs from the CO2 stripping process by having fewer items of high-pressure equipment in the synthesis section. The simplified synthesis section now comprises only the high-pressure stripper and a pool reactor with the high-pressure scrubber. This has been achieved by replacing the high pressure falling film carbamate condenser and the urea reactor by a single vessel - the pool reactor. The result is a simplified overall design with less field construction, less high-pressure piping, a lower and smaller steel structure and at least 10% lower investment cost compared to the process using the vertical falling film condenser.

The new process also has several operational advantages:

  • better heat exchange in turbulent liquid pool
  • less sensitive to N/C ratio
  • no inverse response
  • gravity-driven synthesis loop
  • less maintenance

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Uhde introduces new combustion chamber

Summary

The development and commercial application of a new combustion chamber designed by Uhde for a secondary reformer is presented in this article. *S. Wirtz) H. D. Marsch and M. Severin describe how improvements to the former Uhde secondary reformer design have been made using a 3-dimensional computational fluid dynamics code developed at the University of Bochum) Germany.

Abstract

It has been demonstrated that air-blown secondary reformers in ammonia plants are reasonably reliable as regards mixing and combustion in the generation of synthesis gas. In view of the severe operating conditions in the combustion zone, different designs are available. Some of these have an acceptable reliability and service life, others require maintenance, repair or replacement of critical components at regular intervals. Problems and failures of burners installed in the combustion zone have been reported on various occasions. In most cases, such burner failures will adversely affect refractory linings and the catalyst.

Typical operating parameters of the combustion zone in a secondary reformer are listed in Table 1.

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Nitrogen and methanol in the Gulf

Summary

Nitrogen completes its two-part look at the A rabian Gulf by focusing on the downstream nitrogen and methanol industries of the region.

Abstract

In the previous article the extensive reserves ofeheap gas in the Middle East were reviewed, and with them the logic of siting downstream industries in the region. With gas prices of $0.45-0.50ImmBtu compared to typical Asian prices of $2.00-2.50ImmBtu (representing a difference of $50 on a tonne of urea) the Arabian Gulf is a very attractive region from which to export into Asia.

Such gas-based chemical industries are also welcomed by the Gulf countries, as they help to diversify predominantly oil-based economies, increase foreign revenue and provide a cushion against fluctuations in oil prices. At present, nitrogenous fertilizer production in the Gulf is virtually exclusively ammonia and urea. Prominent among other gas-based chemical industries are methanol and downstream products such as MTBE and acetic acid.

On a country by country basis, the current status of nitrogen and methanol industries in the region is as follows.

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Autothermal reforming turns methanol plant off-gas into a low cost feedstock

Summary

The excess of hydrogen found in syngas from conventional methanol plants offers the plant owner the potential to increase production and profit. Helge Holm-Larsen and Martin E Jensen * describe the combination of the autothermal reforming process and a hydrogenrich off-gas as a feedstock for the production of either methanol or ammonia.

Abstract

The major part of methanol produced today is based on syngas generated by tubular steam reforming of natural gas, a reforming technology which produces a syngas with too much hydrogen for methanol synthesis. This excess hydrogen serves no purpose per se, and it is ultimately purged from the synthesis section of the plant and used as fuel in the reformer.

The autothermal reforming process, on the other handl , produces a syngas with too little hydrogen for methanol and ammonia production. Therefore, by combining syngas from an autothermal reforming (ATR) plant and the hydrogenrich off-gas from the steam reformerbased methanol plant, a balanced syngas may be generated which can be used either for ammonia or for increased production of methanol. This combination of ATR with hydrogen-rich off-gases is referred to as the parallel ATR concept.

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ICI expcerience in methanol - Part 2

Summary

Following on from the introduction to the Low Pressure methanol covered in Part 1 of this article, Keith Mansfield* continues in this final part to describe the development and status of the ICI LCM process. Various research programmes to find a process route which converts methane directly to methanol, thus avoiding the expensive steam reforming stage, are also reviewed.

Abstract

In Part 1 of this two part article, the very early period of development of the copper catalysed Low Pressure process was covered. The research work that determined the importance of copper surface area and the success in achieving low by-product fonnation was described. The further improvements to the Low Pressure process over the 30 year period since its introduction were also summarized. Part 1 effectively brought the story up to the present day, at least in terms of the now conventional process which dominates the world's commercial methanol production capacity.

In recent years developments have been taking place which have the potential to radically change the steam reforming section of a methanol plant, namely the so-called gas heated reformers (GHRs). ICI has developed a GHR based process for methanol which is known as LCM or Leading Concept Methanol. In Part 2 the development and status of the ICI LCM process is described.

For many years researchers in the field of methanol process technology have pursued what to many is seen as the holy grail, the direct conversion of methane to methanol, avoiding the energy intensive steam reforming step. The status of the various research programmes presently being pursued by a variety of workers is reviewed.

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