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Urea the key catalyst that curbs vehicle emissions

Summary

Authorities around the world are imposing ever tighter regulations against emissions of pollutants from heavy-duty and light vehicles. Spearheaded by Europe, most major heavy vehicle manufacturers have adopted Selective Catalyst Reduction (SCR) technology to meet the new emissions requirements. SCR requires the use of a urea-derived reducing agent, thereby opening up a new source of demand.

Abstract

An entirely new role for urea has emerged within the last five years, namely as an additive in Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology to combat emissions from heavy duty trucks and buses. The progressive tightening of European Union NOx emission standards for heavy diesel engines has spurred the development of SCR exhaust gas treatment technology. This involves the reaction of ammonia and NOx to form water and nitrogen. Urea provides an excellent carrier for the ammonia and is always converted back to ammonia before reaction in the SCR catalyst. (An overview of the emissions reduction market and the implications for urea demand, Tim Cheyne, Integer Research. Paper presented at IFA Crossroads Asia-Pacific [November 2006].)

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The continuing spur to improve

Summary

A look at new process concepts and equipment that reduce emissions, improve ammonia plant reliability and safety and maximise the full potential of existing fertilizer plants.

Abstract

A typical fertilizer plant is designed for a service life of at least 20 years. At several times during the plant’s working life, it may be debottlenecked or upgraded in line with company strategy in order to optimise the consumption of energy and feedstocks, reduce emissions and continue to supply the market at competitive cost prices. The producer may work in close liaison in this respect with the suppliers of the plant’s technology and equipment. The latter may take a highly pro-active role in evaluating the efficiency of the plant, providing appropriate schemes for sustained maximum output.

As one of the world’s leading providers of ammonia technology, Haldor Topsøe offers numerous revamp options. Those that focus on energy savings and reduced emissions centre on the following areas of the ammonia plant:

  • Flue gas waste heat section
  • Steam to carbon ratio
  • Secondary reformer burner
  • Condensate stripping with medium pressure steam
  • S-300 ammonia converter.

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A specialist use for ammonium nitrate

Summary

Ammonium nitrate and urea are versatile products that have a range of applications in industry and other sectors, including the recent innovation as an additive in selective catalytic reduction systems. We assess the prospects for further market growth.

Abstract

Ammonium nitrate has for long enjoyed popularity as an explosive used in the mining and quarrying sectors. The main difference between fertilizer grade (FGAN) and the low-density ammonium nitrate (LDAN) that forms the basis of commercial explosives is the density of the final product. LDAN has a bulk density in the range of 0.7-0.8 and is usually made from 96-97% ammonium nitrate solution. By contrast, the higher density fertilizer grade AN is usually made from 99.7-99.8% ammonium nitrate solution. An estimated one quarter of the world’s output of ammonium nitrate is consumed in the form of LDAN. (The market for low density AN, Nitrogen+Syngas, No. 271 [September/October 2004].)

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Winners and losers in the colder climate

Summary

A review of the global industry leaders and how they are coping in the financial climate of 2009.

Abstract

Up to late 2008, the international fertilizer industry had enjoyed an unprecedented period of prosperity that had been sustained since the upturn in market prices in 2004/05. During that period, the industry finally appeared to have dispelled its traditionally unattractive image with the financial community. Many financial analysts who had previously castigated fertilizer producers for their long run of weak profits, low margins and heavy indebtedness were now recommending fertilizer stocks as become must-buy options, as the industry appeared to be performing ahead of the rest of the market.

The boom came to an abrupt end during the third quarter of 2008. In common with other commodity sectors, the global fertilizer industry has had to scale back its operations to match a much harsher climate for business. It is timely to assess how individual companies have been coping.

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A new generation of prilling towers

Summary

The most recently constructed urea plants have mainly adopted granulation technology, and the older established prilling technology appeared to have been superseded. However, the Russian technology company JSC NIIK has given prilling a fresh shot in the arm, having modernised the design of the prilling tower to enables urea producers to meet the highest standards of energy efficiency and low emissions and supply a product that meets the needs of today's markets.

Abstract

Solid urea is marketed as prills or granules. Prills offer the advantage of generally being cheaper to produce than granules, but the latter have a narrower particle size distribution, giving granules an advantage over prills when applied mechanically to the soil. Other properties such as impact strength, crushing strength and free-flowing behaviour need also be taken into account, being particularly important in product handling, storage and bulk transportation, and these in turn can be a function of the chosen manufacturing process.

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New opportunities for the fertilizer industry

Summary

An overview of the increasingly wide range of available products and what they do.

Abstract

Sulphur (S) is one of the most important of the 13 essential nutrients required by all plants for growth and development, ranking almost equally with the three primary nutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Sulphur contributes to several functions, including:

  • Chlorophyll formation
  • Protein production (especially in seeds)
  • Oil synthesis in oil seed crops
  • Enzyme activation.

In addition, sulphur influences the quality and flavour of key crops, including the milling and baking quality of cereals and the nutritive value of forages. Plants take up sulphur from the soil as sulphate: in this form, sulphate S is mobile in most soils and is easily leached from the rooting zone. The plant converts the sulphate into organic compounds, including some essential amino acids that form the building blocks of proteins and vitamins.

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Preparing for the carbon credit regime

Summary

The latest advances in urea revamping technology are reviewed here.

Abstract

Stamicarbon offers customers of its urea plant technology a Full Life Cycle Support programme which both improves the safety and the environmental performance of the plant. The programme covers a wide range of activities, including:

  • Process optimisation
  • On-site inspections
  • Repair and replacement of critical high pressure equipment
  • Plant debottlenecking
  • Materials and corrosion advice.

Stamicarbon has undertaken more than 80 revamp projects in all kinds of urea plants. Stamicarbon has for long been in the forefront of urea production technology. The company has recently announced several innovations.

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More energy efficient and cleaner phosphate plants

Summary

A round-up of the innovations that cut raw material and feedstock consumption and reduce emissions at phosphate plants.

Abstract

One case study that exemplifies the enhanced technology that can be harnessed to improve the performance of phosphate operations is the revamp that Fauji Fertilizer Bin-Qasim Ltd. (FFBL) undertook at its DAP plant in Karachi, Pakistan. This facility came on stream in January 2000, with an initial nameplate capacity of 1,350 t/d DAP. In July 2005, FFBL commissioned Jacobs Engineering to undertake a feasibility study to upgrade the DAP plant. The objectives of the project were to increase production by 50%, from 62 t/h to 93 t/h while reducing the dust in the plant and emissions from the stack. A major premise was to retain the large drum equipment, scrubbers and other major equip­ment and add or modify other equipment as necessary to achieve the goals. (DAP Revamp at Fauji Fertilizer Bin-Qasim Ltd. Mokarram Mirza, Novaid Zuberi and Paul S. Waters. Paper presented at AIChE Clearwater Meeting [June 2008].)

The Fauji project was duly sanctioned and was speedily completed. The construction works were finished in 83 days and design production attained within one month of the resumption of production. The granulator and dryer were given more slope and increased speed. The granulator internals were replaced and a pipe reactor added. The dryer was reflighted. The internals of the granulator feed elevator and the screen feed elevator were replaced. The recycle bed was also replaced and a recycle scale added to control the recycle rate for optimum granulation. A second polishing screen was added to prepare the slurry which is sprayed on the granulator bed through 3 or 4 large nozzles.

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Bonus from the brines and the ores

Summary

Discussion on magnesium, kieserite, lithium and much more...

Abstract

Potassium is found in most rocks, particularly in silicate minerals of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. It is also a major constituent of many surface and subsurface brines. The majority of world potash resources are found in subsurface bedded salt deposits which yield high-grade, large tonnage ore bodies that are amenable to low-cost mining and beneficiation. (Potash Resources, S. Williams-Stroud and R.J. Hite, US Geological Service) Some potash production is from naturally occurring brines, but the vast majority is from bedded salt deposits. Sylvite, carnallite, kainite and langbeinite are the most important potash minerals. (Table 1)

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Micronutrients in emerging countries

Summary

Micronutrients are enjoying a higher profile in agricultural systems around the world, but major deficiencies still prevail. Stepping up the production of added-value fruit, vegetable and plantation crops provides a major potential boost to emerging countries' GDPs, but this in turn brings a very high micronutrient requirement to enhance product quality. The leading fertilizer producers are rising to the challenge.

Abstract

Micronutrient deficiencies in crop plants continue to be widespread worldwide. The primary causes have been identified as:

  • Increased micronutrient demands for intensive cropping practices and the greater use of high-yielding cultivars which may have a higher micronutrient requirement
  • Enhanced production of crops on marginal soils that contain low levels of essential nutrients
  • Increased use of high-analysis fertilizers with low levels of micronutrient contamination
  • Decreased use of animal manures, composts and crop residues
  • Use of soils that are inherently low in micronutrient reserves.

(Source: Micronutrient Deficiencies – Occurrence, Detection and Correction, Tsuioshi Yamada, POTAFOS, Brazil. Paper presented at IFA International Symposium on Micronutrients, New Delhi [2004].)

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