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Syngas in Australasia

Summary

The discovery of large volumes of natural gas off the north and northwest of Australia in the 1980s offered the possibility of the development of a syngas-based chemical industry. Progress has been sporadic, but developments continue.Australasia is a region rich in natural resources, and relatively low in population. In particular there are large basins of natural gas, often very remote from centres of population. In theory this 'stranded' gas is the idea feedstock for a syngas-based chemical industry comparable to regions like the Middle East, though the pace of development has often been slower.

Abstract

Australasia is a region rich in natural resources, and relatively low in population. In particular there are large basins of natural gas, often very remote from centres of population. In theory this ‘stranded’ gas is the idea feedstock for a syngas-based chemical industry comparable to regions like the Middle East, though the pace of development has often been slower.

Australia, perhaps unsurprisingly, has the lion’s share of these resources. According to BP, at the end of 2008 Australia had 2.5 trillion cubic metres of proved natural gas reserves. However, the Australian government believes that offshore basins may hold almost double that. The reserves are concentrated in three main areas; off the northwest shelf, in the Browse, Bonaparte and Canaervon Basins, stretching around towards the north of Australia; in the centre, around the Cooper, Adavale and Bowen-Surat Basin; and in the south around Tasmania, including the Ossway, Bass and Gippsland Basins. Figure 1 shows Australia’s gas basins. Around 90% of reserves are in the northwest shelf, one of the least populated regions of the country.

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China set to grow urea capacity

Summary

China is planning to expand its urea industry production capacity by at least 10% over the next five years to meet growing demand from the nation's agricultural sector. New urea plants totalling around 2.4 million t/a are expected to be commissioned in 2009, with leading urea producers and provincial governments among project developers investing in new production complexes. Government support for further expansion in urea output involves a change in feedstock policy. With most of China's indigenous natural gas reserves earmarked for fuel use, many new urea plants are due to use coal feedstock.

Abstract

China is planning to expand its urea industry production capacity by at least 10% over the next five years to meet growing demand from the nation’s agricultural sector. New urea plants totalling around 2.4 million t/a are expected to be commissioned in 2009, with leading urea producers and provincial governments among project developers investing in new production complexes. Government support for further expansion in urea output involves a change in feedstock policy. With most of China’s indigenous natural gas reserves earmarked for fuel use, many new urea plants are due to use coal feedstock.

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The market for AN

Summary

Security concerns continue to dominate fertilizer grade AN, and are encouraging diversification into calcium and urea ammonium nitrates, but demand for explosive grade AN continues to increase steadily.

Abstract

Ammonium nitrate has long been a mainstay of fertilizer producers in Europe and Eurasia, and to a lesser extent North America. It provides nitrogen directly in nitrate form, unlike higher analysis fertilizers like urea, which must first be hydrolysed to nitrates before they become usable by the plant, and hence is suited to the shorter growing seasons of northern Europe. It also means that some urea is inevitably lost through volatilisation, and hence does not make it to the plant at all. Although urea has taken over as the most popular straight N fertilizer worldwide, fertilizer grade AN (FGAN) continues to have a major slice of the European market.

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Ammonium nitrate regulatory update

Summary

Nitrogen+Syngas presents a brief overview of some of the major recent and future legislation affecting ammonium nitrate storage and handling

Abstract

Ammonium nitrate storage and handling is an area where regulation is continually evolving, due to concerns both over fire and explosion risk and safety on the one hand, and security and anti-terror legislation on the other. Further to our longer article on AN regulation last year (Nitrogen+Syngas 296, pp24-29), events have moved on in several key areas, particularly for solid ammonium nitrate fertilizers.

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What happened to UAN?

Summary

Five years ago the prospects for UAN were promising. A steady increase in demand and supply seemed to be certain, and many large-scale projects were discussed. In 2004 Uhde presented a "Mega UAN Concept" to meet the expected future market demands, making use of the then latest technological developments in the UAN production chain. But have these expectations been fulfilled? And are there any new technical developments which would support large scale production complexes or increase the economic or environmental feasibility? Axel Erben of Uhde GmbH reports.

Abstract

Five years ago the prospects for UAN were promising. A steady increase in demand and supply seemed to be certain, and many large-scale projects were discussed. In 2004 Uhde presented a “Mega UAN Concept” to meet the expected future market demands, making use of the then latest technological developments in the UAN production chain. But have these expectations been fulfilled? And are there any new technical developments which would support large scale production complexes or increase the economic or environmental feasibility? Axel Erben of Uhde GmbH reports.

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Precious knowhow

Summary

One of the major keys to keeping nitric acid manufacturing costs as economical as possible is to keep the loss of platinum group metals to a minimum. Nitrogen+Syngas asked the industry's leading precious metal catalyst producers and PGM refiners and recovery specialists how they are helping nitric acid producers to maximise their process' hidden valuable assets.

Abstract

The production of nitric acid by ammonia oxidation (Ostwald Process) uses valuable raw materials such as ammonia and a platinum-based wire gauze catalyst. By the nature of the process a small amount of ammonia inevitably gets lost during chemical conversion by formation of unwanted side products like nitrogen and dinitrogen oxide instead of the desired intermediate nitrogen monoxide. Due to the high operating temperature of the catalyst and the excess oxygen present in the reactor atmosphere, part of the platinum catalyst forms volatile platinum oxide, which is jettisoned into the gas stream as it evaporates and is carried off into the downstream plant. Losing as little platinum as possible is one of the major keys to maintaining the nitric acid manufacturing costs as economical as possible.

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