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Publication > Issue > Articles

Nitrogen in South Asia

Summary

With growing populations to feed and plagued by perennial natural gas shortages, the countries of south Asia face considerable challenges in meeting their nitrogen fertilizer requirements over the coming decades.

Abstract

India, Bangladesh and Pakistan consume between them nearly 30 million t/a of urea, and rising populations are likely to see requirements rise. However, domestic production remains hamstrung by feedstock issues.


India
In spite of being one of the emerging giants of the world economy, with GDP growth running at around 8-9% per year, India continues to face considerable challenges, not least in feeding its mushrooming population. Over the next two decades, India’s population of 1.17 billion is forecast to reach 1.45 billion people. Although the country is rapidly industrialising, the agricultural sector, representing only 17% of GDP, still employs 65% of the workforce.

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Fuels from syngas

Summary

A round-up of recent developments in commercialisation of synthesis gas routes to fuels, from methanol to gasoline to gas-to-liquids projects.

Abstract

Synthetic fuels have long been something of a niche product, confined to countries unable to obtain refined fuel from other sources, due to blockades or sanctions. The availability of cheap oil made it uneconomical to produce vehicle fuels other than via conventional refining, and even though advances in bringing down the cost of synthesis were made in the 1990s, at a time of oil at $20-30/bbl it was still difficult to justify such an investment.
However, from about 2002 onwards, oil prices began an unprecedented climb, peaking at nearly $120/bbl very recently. Spiralling demand in Asia was coupled with the invasion of Iraq and jitters about Middle Eastern supply. There is limited spare production capacity around the globe, and fears of passing ‘peak oil’ production. As a result, there has been an upsurge of interest in using alternative feedstocks for fuel production. Syngas is a key intermediate here, either to produce methanol and downstream fuel products, or via a Fischer-Tropsch reaction to produce synthetic diesel.

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Enhanced urea production

Summary

Latest developments to improve urea production was a major topic at Nitrogen+Syngas 2011, presentations and discussions covered a wide range of topics including, urea finishing technologies, jumbo size urea plants, urea equipment and materials and emissions control. Highlights of some of the presentation are presented below.

Abstract

Casale’s new Vortex® granulation
Urea Casale introduced its Vortex® granulation technology at Nitrogen+Syngas 20111. This innovative granulation technology combines the advantages of fluid bed granulation technology with those of drum granulation. It is designed both for grass roots granulation units and for debottlenecking existing units, especially prilling towers.

The two main characterising elements of Vortex® granulation technology are:
l the Vortex® granulator;
l the spraying nozzles.
The Vortex® granulator is a rotating fluid bed. Particles are fluidised with air fed from the bottom through a grid but, unlike other fluid beds used for granulation, the fluidised particles have two types of motion:

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From coal to clean energy

Summary

Converting even low grade coal to clean Substitute Natural Gas (SNG) is not only feasible but highly attractive from the perspectives of the environment, security of energy supply, use of available (domestic) resources and economics. J. H. Jensen, J. M. Poulsen and N. U. Andersen of Haldor Topsøe A/S highlight the inherent challenges in SNG methanation and suggest solutions to them.

Abstract

As the world economies recover from the downturn, the energy demand equally grows.  Natural gas is an attractive energy source, being clean and easy to distribute, and natural gas demand is predicted to grow at a higher pace than general energy demand growth.
Natural gas production has been increasing in some regions through advances in technology. However, some of these un-conventional methods are expensive, and not all countries can increase supply sufficiently.  They become increasingly dependent on pipeline supplies and expensive LNG, which raise questions not only regarding cost, but also in terms of energy independence and security of supply.

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The chemistry within your catalysts Part 1: Fundamentals and feedstock purification

Summary

The role of the catalyst in chemical reactions is to provide alternative reaction pathways which have a lower activation energy than an uncatalysed route which, in effect, allows chemical conversions to happen where otherwise these would not. The ideal catalyst would perform in line with the OED definition, however, the real world is not ideal and catalysts are deactivated or damaged in operation and are capable of facilitating other reactions than the desired one leading to by-products. This article by P.V. Broadhurst, F.E. Lynch and N. MacLeod of Johnson Matthey Catalysts is the first of a series which will consider some fundamental points on what a catalyst is doing and some terms which are often used in discussing catalyst performance in an ammonia plant. It will go on to review the chemistry of the catalysts and absorbents which are used in the feedstock purification section of the flowsheet.

Abstract

Operators of syngas plants have a range of converters in the flowsheet which contain either catalysts or absorbents. At a high level the chemical interconversions in each converter are understood and there is a focus on how well each converter is performing because it affects plant efficiency and operability. From an operations perspective this is a correct focal point, however, on a molecular level each catalyst or absorbent product has been designed to deliver its effect based on a fundamental understanding of the chemistry behind the interconversions taking place in each converter.


What is a catalyst and what does it do?
Within a syngas flowsheet, whether it be production of ammonia, methanol, hydrogen, carbon dioxide or SNG, most converters use catalysts or, particularly in feedstock or syngas purification, absorbents to enable the chemical reactions to proceed. In some situations, the installed material has a combination of both functions.

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Ammonia/urea plant rejuvenation

Summary

The acquisition by Fauji Fertilizer Company (FFC) of an old fertilizer plant and its transformation into a profitable business entity sets an example for other organisations. FFC's triple E strategy (Efficiency improvement, Energy conservation and Environmental commitment) has been crucial to the success of the project. Shahzad Yousaf of FFC sheds light on the various project initiatives and their execution.

Abstract

With a vision to acquire self sufficiency in fertilizer production, Fauji Fertilizer Company Limited (FFC), a joint venture between Fauji Foundation Pakistan and Haldor Topsoe A/S Denmark, was incorporated on May 8, 1978 as a public company in the private sector.
Presently, the company is operating three large urea plants capturing over 60% of domestic market share with an aggregate design capacity of over 2.4 million t/a prilled urea. Two plants are located at Goth Machhi (GM), south of Punjab province (halfway between Lahore and Karachi).The acquired third plant (Paksaudi Fertilizers Limited – PSFL) is situated at Mirpur Mathelo, 60 km south of Goth Machhi, in the vicinity of Sukkur, province of Sindh.

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New energy saving ammonia technology

Summary

I.L.Leites, A.V.Maikov, and Y.A. Sokolinsky of Company Project Office propose an alternative method of synthesis gas production based on autothermal reforming of natural gas with steam and air and condensation of excess nitrogen with absorption of admixtures of methane and argon to produce a stoichiometric synthesis gas. Experimental pilot plant data are presented. Design work has shown that it is possible to reduce the energy consumption of old ammonia plants using a two-stage approach, reducing the energy consumption to 32.6 GJ/t NH3 in the first stage of the reconstruction and down to 29.6 GJ/t NH3 in the second stage.

Abstract

The main reactions for synthesis gas manufacture from methane for the production of ammonia and other chemical products are shown in the following reactions:
CH4 + H2O +206.3 kJ/mol = CO + 3H2  (1)
CH4 + 0.5O2 - 35.6 kJ/mol = CO + 2H2  (2)
CO + H2O -41 kJ/mol = CO2 + H2  (3)
The steam reforming of methane (reaction 1) is an endothermic reaction, whereas reactions 2 and 3 are exothermic reactions. The partial combustion of methane (reaction 4) is also required in some synthesis gas production routes.
CH4 + 2O2 -890 kJ/mol = H2O + CO2  (4)
Autothermal steam+oxygen natural gas reforming
A simplified flow sheet of the old method of autothermal methane reforming by steam and oxygen to produce synthesis gas for ammonia manufacture is shown in Fig. 1.

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