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Publication > Issue > Articles

Coal – back on the agenda

Summary

High oil and gas prices, environmental concerns and energy security are all driving new interest in coal as a feedstock for syngas production.

Abstract

One effect of the recent prevailing high natural gas prices, both in Europe and the US, has been to encourage a fresh look at ammonia production via alternative feedstocks. Coal is generally seen as a dirty feedstock, but coal gasification technologies are a way to overcome that problem, and so its use has been encouraged by government and environmental groups. Capital costs are admittedly high – roughly double that for a comparable natural gas-based plant. However, the advantage comes from relatively cheaper feedstock prices, which if sufficiently cheap can offset the increased capital cost in the long term.

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LNG update

Summary

The global gas market is changing as old basins are depleted and gas must be transferred over longer distances. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is becoming increasingly important not only as a means of transport but as a driver for gas-based projects in remote gas fields. Nitrogen + Syngas looks at recent developments in the LNG market.

Abstract

Global demand for natural gas as a proportion of overall energy demand has been rising steadily for several decades. It currently represents about 22% of global energy use, and by 2020 this is forecast to have increased to 24% – an increase of 2% as a proportion of energy usage, but an increase of 44% in overall gas consumption.

The growth of natural gas has been mostly due to it being favoured as a fuel for power generation. Gas use for electricity generation is forecast to double in the US over the next 10 years. The reasons for this are basically fourfold: it has a higher fuel efficiency than other fossil fuels. Per megawatt of power, gas-fired stations are also easier and cheaper to construct. Furthermore, combined cycle gas turbines can be constructed very rapidly compared to other generation stations, especially nuclear or hydroelectric (and often attract less local opposition). And finally, methane burns more cleanly than coal and oil, and tends to produce less soot, carbon dioxide and sulphur emissions. These factors play differently in different markets. In east Asia, where there is a rapid rise in demand for electricity, gas is favoured for the speed at which capacity can be brought onstream. In Europe, it is the environmental angle which has favoured it over coal and oil, and in the US, a combination of environmental and economic factors have predominated.

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Growing interest in AS

Summary

Ammonium sulphate production stagnated during the 1980s and 90s, but over the past 10 years the compound has seen demand grow by 60% due to a combination of the difficulties faced by ammonium nitrate and the increasing need for plant nutrient sulphur.

Abstract

Ammonium sulphate is one of the oldest man-made fertilizers. It was first produced on an industrial scale as a by-product from coke ovens and gasworks in the 19th century in the industrialised world, and its ready availability meant that it became favoured as a fertilizer. A century ago it formed the major source of nitrogen fertilizer in the developed world. The discovery of the synthesis of ammonia in the early years of the 20th century meant that synthetic ammonium sulphate could be produced from ammonia and sulphuric acid, and this route gradually came to dominate the ammonium sulphate industry.

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Ruwais plans urea expansion

Summary

The UAE's main fertilizer producer Ruwais discusses its expansion plans with David Hayes

Abstract

Urea production in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is due to receive an important boost over the next few years now that work is getting underway to expand urea production by 50% at state-owned Ruwais Fertilizer Industries’ ammonia-urea complex. The plant expansion scheme is part of a two phase investment programme that will involve building a second ammonia-urea complex that would raise Fertil’s total urea output to 6,200 t/d by the end of 2009. Plans also call for the company’s current prilled urea production to convert to granulated urea prior to the second ammonia-urea complex being completed, which also will be built to produce granular urea for export.

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Tried, tested and proved

Summary

Extensively proved in decades of commercial use, the Rectisol® methanol wash process, often teamed with a liquid nitrogen wash unit, is in most cases the method of choice for purifying synthesis gas generated by gasification of heavy feedstocks. Johannes Kauf, of Linde AG's Engineering Division, shows how this very well-proved technology has kept up to the minute.

Abstract

Where it is abundant, natural gas is always the preferred feedstock for producing ammonia or hydrogen because the synthesis gas produced from it can be generated (by steam reforming) and purified more efficiently, cleanly and economically than syngas from any other commonly-available raw material. For carbon-based chemicals produced from synthesis gas, such as methanol, oxo-alcohols and Fischer-Tropsch hydrocarbons, there is a slight disadvantage in that the carbon : hydrogen ratio in reforming-based synthesis gas is generally too low.

There is still plenty of natural gas in the world, but indigenous resources in the more mature industrially-advanced economies are beginning to dry up, as has been only too apparent recently. In the past few winters prices in the United States have shot into the stratosphere during periods of peak demand, while this winter, as North Sea production has gone into decline, there have been supply shortages in Europe. These areas will become progressively more dependent on imports, which is an undesirable, even dangerous state of affairs from the strategic point of view. And there are other parts of the world which are in the process of rapid industrial development but have never, so far, had significant indigenous gas resources; some possibly never will.

So in spite of the continuing concern about carbon dioxide emissions and global warming, which was largely responsible for the “dash for gas” in the 1980s and 1990s and, consequently, for the accelerated depletion of industrial-world gas resources, coal – the most carbonaceous of all native fossil energy sources – is set to stage a come-back, especially in the United States. Coal also has always been an important fuel and feedstock in China and is likely to continue to be so in the future.

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ACES 21 – The first ­completely new plant is now in operation

Summary

Toyo Engineering's first complete urea plant based on the ACES 21™ process, the Kujang 1B plant in Indonesia, successfully passed its performance test in January 2006. K. Yoshimoto, Y. Kojima and E. Sakata review the energy-saving and environment-friendly features of the process.

Abstract

Toyo Engineering Corporation (TEC), a global engineering contractor and urea process licensor, has licensed the technology for 94 urea plants and 14 urea granulation plants since it was established in 1961. As of February this year, TEC had a 25 % share of total world urea production capacity.

In 2000, TEC announced the completion of the R&D programme on its latest urea synthesis technology, named ACES 21™, which was developed in co-operation with PT Pupuk Sriwidjaja (Pusri), Indonesia 1. ACES 21 combines the dual advantages of low investment cost and low energy consumption.

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