BC Insight - Nitrogen+Syngas, Sulphur, Fertilizer International
Login
BCInsight Ltd
China Works
Black Prince Road
London, SE1 7SJ
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7793 2567
Fax: +44 (0)20 7793 2577

Publication > Issue > Articles

Sustainability on the agenda

Summary

JM Catalyst's Sustainability 2017 Agenda was to the fore at the International Methanol Technology Operators' Forum (IMTOF), held in London from June 19-22 this year.

Abstract

The conference began with a presentation by Martin Partridge, technical director of JM Catalyst. The year 2017 will see the 200th anniversary of JM Catalyst, and since 2007 the company has been working towards its ‘Sustainability 2017’ agenda – aiming to reduce the company’s impact on the planet and improve the contribution it makes for the benefit of all stakeholders. It also provides a framework for improving performance across the board. Discussions within the company have identified five key areas for improvement: Health and Safety; the Environment; Social, Governance; and Financial. Some things that have arisen from this include the need to better communicate about the company’s activities, which has led to the production of a leaflet for schools to explain methanol’s use in everyday products.
Martin closed his presentation with some speculation on the future. What might methanol production look like in 100 years’ time? Possibly some will come from biotechnology and algal production. Biomass of course will be a feedstock in some cases, and there will be hydrogen production from renewable energy sources, and perhaps methanol production as a way of sequestering carbon dioxide. But probably methane will still be used for methanol production, he said, although it will likely be in plants 15-20% more efficient than today.

Add to basket


A tradition of innovation

Summary

A variety of technologies for ammonia, urea and methanol production were discussed at Casale's Third Customer Symposium, which was held in the beautiful surrounds of Lugano, Switzerland, from June 6th to 10th this year.

Abstract

Casale’s customer symposia only come around every five years, but they are always a welcome chance to revisit the beautiful lakes of southern Switzerland, just across the border from Italy’s Lake Como.
The company now boasts capabilities throughout the project cycle, from project feasibility and preparation of feasibility studies and front end engineering design (FEED) into the project execution phase, where Casale offer both basic and detailed engineering, procurement, expediting and supply, manufacturing quality control, site supervision and quality control and training. In addition to these, Casale also focuses on after-sales services during plant operation and maintenance of critical equipment, which require specific know-how and experience. This mainly covers; monitoring of plant operation for performance analysis and optimisation; assisting the client with requests on operating issues and troubleshooting; regular equipment inspection for proper maintenance; regular updating on technological improvements.

Add to basket


Industrial uses for nitrogen

Summary

Ammonia consumption for industrial or so-called 'technical' uses has increased more rapidly than nitrogen fertilizer consumption over the same period. This important market sector has now come to occupy about 25% of all nitrogen consumption worldwide.

Abstract

The world ammonia industry consumed around 125 million tonnes N in 2009, according to the most recent year for which IFA statistics are available. Of this some 54% was used in the production of urea (just under 90% of which is consumed as a nitrogen fertilizer), 6.7% in MAP and DAP production, 4.3% in ammonium bicarbonate production (all of it in China), and 14% in ammonium nitrate, calcium ammonium nitrate and UAN production, of which around 75% was actually put to fertilizer use. Ammonium sulphate production totalled around 3.3% in terms of tonnes N, but actual on-purpose ammonia consumption to produce fertilizer AS was only a fraction of this, probably around 20% of total AS production, because most AS production is in fact as a by-product from use of ammonia in technical applications such as metal leaching and caprolactam production. A further 2.7% of all ammonia production was used in direct ammonia application as a fertilizer, mostly in the US.
Totalling these figures, it can be seen that overall about 75% of ammonia production is destined for agricultural uses, and 25% for non-agricultural or so-called “technical” uses – around 31.3 million tonnes N of ‘technical nitrogen’. This represents 6.7 million tonnes N (5.5%) as technical urea, 4.4 million tonnes N (3.5%) as technical grade ammonium nitrate, and 22 million tonnes N (17.5%) as technical ammonia.

Add to basket


Record attendance at Defining the Future V Conference

Summary

Süd-Chemie hosted its fifth Defining the Future Conference in Beijing with presentations and discussions on catalysts and processing technologies for chemical, petrochemical and energy industries. More than 650 customers, partners and interested parties attended the three-day event in May.

Abstract

Beijing was the appropriate venue for the fifth Defining the Future Conference held by Süd-Chemie on May 23-25th this year, for its key customers and partners in catalysis. A record crowd of more than 650 attendees participated in the three-day event, and nearly 60% were based locally. The conference focused on the key catalysts and processes that will help meet the increasing energy and chemicals demand in China, and globally. This was the fifth Defining the Future Conference for Süd-Chemie, and the second that was held in China, reflecting the growing economic strength and commercial opportunity in the region.
In his opening address, Dr Hans-Joachim Müller, member of the managing board, reviewed the top five challenges for the future: clean air, access to clean water, energy availability, energy sustainability, and energy storage, and encouraged delegates to use the three days of the conference to discuss those needs and challenges and begin to find solutions.

Add to basket


Ammonia plant rejuvenation

Summary

Ammonia plant revamps can make older ammonia plants competitive with modern plants. Many options are available to rejuvenate and debottleneck ammonia plants to boost capacity and make energy savings. In this article, we discuss different revamping technologies. Case studies of ammonia plants in China, India and Russia are used to illustrate some of the many different options available to maximise the efficiency and reliability of ammonia plants.

Abstract

Many existing ammonia plants are facing difficulties in today’s ever more competitive market, due to increasing feedstock prices and/or the high energy consumption of older plants compared to new generation plants. Revamp technologies can be used to raise the efficiency of older plants and make them more competitive with new plants.
Ammonia plant revamp options must be evaluated on a case by case basis depending on the objectives of the project and the plant specific conditions. In order to define the most attractive revamp options, a revamp study is normally performed to establish technical input as well as cost data in order to make the right decisions. The options most often implemented are installation of an adiabatic prereformer, new reformer tubes, reduction of steam to carbon ratio and installation of additional ammonia converter capacity. However, the choice between the various options must be made during the study phase on the basis of a careful analysis of the specific situation, bearing in mind that an attractive revamp concept will be characterised by:

l low investment cost per additional tonne of ammonia product;
l low operating costs;
l short implementation time;
l minimum interference with the existing installation.

Add to basket


The chemistry within your catalysts: Part 3: Water gas shift and methanation

Summary

In part 3 of this series of articles reviewing the fundamental chemistry of the catalysts in the ammonia plant flowsheet, R. Anderson, P.V, Broadhurst, D. Cairns, F.E. Lynch and C. Park of Johnson Matthey Catalysts consider how hydrogen generation is maximised through the water gas shift section and how methanation is used to remove the last traces of carbon oxides from the syngas before the ammonia synthesis loop. The discussion will also consider matters such as catalyst deactivation, by product formation and side reaction chemistry.

Abstract

The water gas shift section of the ammonia plant substantially increases the hydrogen available to the ammonia synthesis reaction. The catalysts have been the subject of intense study over many decades which has led to an in depth understanding of the reaction chemistry and has led to successive improvements in the catalysts’ performance.
Removing catalyst poisons CO and CO2 by methanation is vital to prolonging the life of the downstream ammonia synthesis catalyst. The understanding and formulation of these catalysts has also been improved over time and, working under standard operating conditions, catalyst lifetimes of over ten years are routinely achieved.

Add to basket


Steam reformer tube life

Summary

Steam reformers are the heart of the operation for hydrogen, ammonia and methanol producers. Within the steam reformer, catalyst tubes are one of the most critical and expensive components. Downtime in a reformer is very costly, especially when a tube failure necessitates an unplanned shutdown. Tube replacements during a planned turnaround are also expensive, so they should be undertaken only when there is an unacceptable risk of failure prior to the next planned outage. A reliable, accurate, and technically-sound methodology for assessing remaining reformer tube life can have tremendous financial implications. An equally important and frequently common outcome of such life assessment methods, is the finding that tubes are sound, in good condition and have many years of useful service remaining that enables units to be run more aggressively. In this article we discuss inspection techniques to monitor creep damage, reformer tube materials, reformer surveys and the latest software for assessing remaining reformer tube life.

Abstract

Plant reliability has become the number one issue impacting profitability in many industry sectors. In ammonia, methanol and hydrogen plants, the tubular steam methane reformer plays an important role when considering both capital and operating costs. Within the steam reformer, catalyst tubes are one of the most critical and expensive components. The inspection and tube replacement has to be coordinated with the plant turnaround, which generally is determined by the maintenance of major rotating equipment  and to some extent by the requirements for catalyst replacement (catalyst for tubular reformers typically has a lifetime of more than 5 years, and in case a prereformer is installed typically more than 10 years).
Typically, furnaces are designed to operate for a minimum tube creep life of 100,000 hours (95% lower boundary limit) but in practice tubes may fail earlier than this or indeed last significantly longer. This can be due to the operator either running the furnace aggressively, close to or above the design operating conditions, or conservatively. There are also inherent variations in tube dimension from the specified drawing, in particular designs often specify minimum sound wall (MSW) whereas the installed tubes may have a wall thickness, and consequently outer diameter (OD), larger than the minimum specified value.

Add to basket


Plant Manager+: Problem No. 7 Urea melt pump damage

Summary

The urea melt pump is a challenging application of a centrifugal type of pump: On the discharge side it has a relatively high pressure as the urea melt needs to be pumped up to the top of the prilling tower, which is typically some 100 metres high; while on the suction side vacuum pressure exists. Furthermore, the urea melt needs to be pumped with a minimum residence time to minimise biuret formation, so the residence time at the suction is limited. Finally the urea melt can easily crystallise transforming into biuret, triuret or further poly-urea products, which can cause cavitation and damage the pump.

Abstract

Mr Muhammad Usman of the Process Engineering Department of Fauji Fertilizer Company in Sadiqabad, Pakistan introduces his problem of damage to the urea melt pump:
We have a centrifugal pump for urea melt at the bottom of the second vacuum concentrator, which pumps around 99.7 wt-% urea melt to the prilling tower. Urea polymer lumps frequently falling in the melt pump suction line are causing cavitation of the pump and in a recent incident even damaged the pump shaft. Using a suction strainer to avoid lumps in the pump suction proved to be unsuccessful, due to its choking. Frequent flushing of the system is carried out; however, the issue in ongoing. Do you have any suggestions to improve the problem?
Mr Juan Jose Pestana of Operation Department of Soluciones Quimicas para el Campo y la Industria in Mexico has also experienced this type of problem in his plant:
After a lot of problems of this kind we had to open the second stage vacuum separator and make a manhole to take a look and clean up all the polymer urea. This was a lot of work for us and I think there is a better solution. If you cannot wait for a longer shutdown, try the following:
With a plant shutdown close all steam to ejectors and decrease the cooling water pressure (we took off one cooling water pump). Completely fill the vacuum separator with hot water and when water comes up to the vacuum condenser, feed steam to the evaporator heater to boil (5 to 10 minutes). Maintain a small flow of water with this operation. After this, drain all equipment. Operate your urea solution pump until all water remains clean.

Add to basket