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Growing interest in water-based fertilizers

Summary

Water-based fertilizers were the theme of the October 2005 meeting of the International Fertilizer Society in London.

Abstract

The International Fertilizer Society’s annual technical meeting at Burlington House in London’s Piccadilly last October centred around the theme of water-based fertilizers, both suspensions and solutions, and the technical considerations that surround their use.

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The baton passes

Summary

China is the rising star in the new methanol market, as US production closes down

Abstract

With the North American methanol industry largely shut down, and China not only becoming swing producer but massively expanding its own methanol capacity, the World Methanol Conference which was held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in South Beach, Miami last December, marked a ‘changing of the guard’ from the dominant power of the 20th century to what may become the dominant power of the 21st.

CMAI’s economist Arved Teleki began the conference with a review of global economic conditions and a forecast to 2010. The recovery in the global economy seems to be slowing, and high oil and gas prices are placing a drag on growth, but Mr Teleki’s forecast was that the key drivers of the world economy; population growth, economic integration (‘globalisation’) and technological development, have all re-emerged and look set to continue to drive growth over the next five years. Although the global economy remains vulnerable to political shocks and the US debt overhang remains serious, CMAI believe that the prospect for an economic ‘crash’ remains only one in three.

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The Asian market for methanol

Summary

Last November, Sud-Chemie held the second of its 'Defining the Future' series of conferences. The first, in Bahrain in 2004, dealt with a region the Middle East that is rapidly becoming the major source of supply for the world's petrochemical industries. This one, in Shanghai, China, was emphatically concerned with the other side of the equation that of future demand for petrochemicals.

Abstract

Although the conference ranged quite widely, over refining and petrochemicals as well as chemicals, methanol was very much in the forefront of discussions as regards syngas-derived chemicals.

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A real reduction

Summary

By equipping its domestic nitric acid plants with its own secondary catalytic nitrous oxide abatement technology (already proved in three plants in France), Yara will enable the Norwegian process industry to meet its 2007 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Abstract

In our September-October edition, we reported on the progress that the main manufacturers of platinum-group metal (PGM) nitric acid catalyst gauzes have made in developing secondary abatement technology for nitrous oxide (laughing gas) abatement.1 Taking into account its longevity in the atmosphere, nitrous oxide has around 310 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and although it is generated in only relatively minor amounts in a side reaction on the ammonia oxidation catalyst, its carbon dioxide equivalent is actually greater than all of the carbon dioxide generated in the production of the ammonia fed to the nitric acid plant. Because nitrous oxide is inert in the climatic zone of the atmosphere, it diffuses into the stratosphere and is thus also implicated in photochemical reactions which cause ozone depletion.

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New impetus for reactive metals

Summary

New welding techniques have widened the possibilities for using zirconium the most corrosion-resistant material of all in critical items of the urea plant.

Abstract

Ammonium carbamate is formed as an intermediate in the industrial synthesis of urea from ammonia and carbon dioxide.

Under the very high pressures (150+ bar) and temperatures (180+ºC) used in parts of the process, ammonium carbamate is extremely aggressive towards metallic materials of construction. But there is no economic alternative process route. Bitter experience has shown that those parts of the plant which are subjected to the most extreme conditions have to be made out of special materials of construction, though it has to be said that outside these corrosion-prone zones urea plants are remarkably durable, judging from the number of old plants that are still in operation, whether revamped or not.

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