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

Regulations continue to tighten

Summary

A report from the Ammonium Nitrate/Nitric Acid (AN/NA) conference, held in London, Ontario in October, where the regulatory environment for AN continued to be a talking point.

Abstract

Ammonium nitrate’s safety implications and its potential for misuse still unfortunately seems to dominate discussion of the chemical, and the AN/NA conference in London, Ontario was no exception. As far as misuse of AN goes, the Pentagon’s Joint IED Defeat Organisation (JIEDDO) gave another presentation, with Timothy Kolb providing some salutary statistics. According to JIEDDO’s intelligence, more than 500 IEDs are used around the world every month outside of Afghanistan, and the figures from Afghanistan are more than double that. And around 50-75% of these are based on ammonium nitrate as an oxidising agent. JIEDDO’s focus continues to be working with industrial suppliers on means of producing lower or non-detonable AN-based compounds, and introducing dyes or other identification means at point of production to help identify AN in the field. Ensuring that only authorised personnel have access to AN is of course another important strand. Keywords: safety, corrosion, emissons, UAN, CAN

Add to basket


Safety in ammonia plants

Summary

A round-up of papers presented at the AIChE Safety in Ammonia Plants and Related Facilities Symposium, this year held in Chicago in mid-September.

Abstract

The keynote address was given by Greg Hart of Hart Energy, and, this being the US, he took as his topic the US shale gas boom. Although shale drilling dates back to 1851, it was only when horizontal drilling techniques began to make their presence felt from about 2004 in the Barnett Shale that the surge in production began. There are now >15,000 wells in the Barnett Shale and production per well is increasing. Hart Energy projects that from its current 20 bcf/day, equivalent to about one third of US demand, shale gas production in North America will rise to >45 bcf/day by 2020. The extraction of higher chain hydrocarbons has led to ethane production increasing by 25%, and some naphtha crackers are now switching to shale gas liquids. Keywords: metal dusting, catalyst, operation, risk, technology

Add to basket


Nitrogen in Asia

Summary

South and East Asia represent almost half of the global nitrogen market, with India and China dominating both supply and demand. Both countries have tried to prioritise domestic ammonia and downstream nitrogen production, but there are also considerable imports into the region, particularly from the Middle East.

Abstract

Asia has become the most important region for the nitrogen fertilizer industry. Of a total ammonia production of just over 162 million tonnes in 2011, south and east Asia and Oceania represent 47%, or almost half. The region is dominated by the two large markets of India and China, which between them account for about 70% of Asian nitrogen consumption – China represents about 47% and India 25% – and each also represent a similar but slightly smaller proportion of nitrogen production, with India in particular lagging slightly. Demand Demand for nitrogen is based mainly on the fertilizer sector, which currently represents about 80% of all demand for nitrogen worldwide. However, a significant and increasing volume is also determined by so-called ‘technical’ or industrial uses. In western Europe and the USA this includes urea for use in selective catalytic reduction systems for vehicles and power plants, while other technical uses include ammonia refrigerants, ammonium nitrate for explosives – growing rapidly in Australia, China and southeast Asia – as well as chemical demand in urea formaldehyde resins, polyurethane, and as an intermediate in nylon and other fibre manufacture. Demand for technical nitrogen in Asia and Oceania has been mainly for resin production in China, and this has come to represent about 14% of demand in the region; around 11.1 million tonnes N out of a total of 77.7 million tonnes N. Over the coming four years technical nitrogen demand in Asia is projected to rise to 12.9 million tonnes, but much of that new increase will be instead due to new ammonium nitrate capacity for explosives, especially in the mining boom areas of Australia and Indonesia, and representing an overall 4% increase year on year. New nitric acid capacity in South Korea for chemicals production will also account for some of this increase. Keywords: China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, fertilizer, technical, urea

Add to basket


Methanol market status and outlook

Summary

A look at the current market status and outlook for methanol over the next five years. This article is based on a paper presented by Mark Berggren of Methanol Market Services Asia (MMSA) at the Asia Nitrogen+Syngas Conference in Kuala Lumpur in October 2012.

Abstract

Methanol’s demand growth is among the highest among major base petrochemicals. This is because methanol’s varied applications in substitution for refined products are economically competitive, and this trend seems set to continue. Methanol is chemically extremely versatile and capable of being turned to a wide variety of downstream uses. It is the most basic petrochemical that contains oxygen, and as a liquid at room temperature it is relatively easy to ship, store and distribute. At present almost all of its downstream uses experience at least GDP-level growth, and, because it is in the early stages of replacing many refined products, especially in China, it is often considerably above this level of growth. Table 1 shows demand growth in various downstream applications, some of which will be discussed in more detail later, both over the past five year period, along with some predictions for the next five years. Keywords: DME, gasoline, MTO

Add to basket


Process burners for syngas production

Summary

Secondary reforming and autothermal reforming burners used in the production of ammonia and methanol are designed to provide efficient mixing and combustion. Tools such as computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and stress analysis with finite element analysis are used to optimise burner designs and fully understand the conditions prevailing around the burner, in the combustion chamber and gas entry into the catalyst bed. CFD simulations show detailed information on the variables: e.g. three-dimensional velocity field, the turbulence level and the distribution of temperature, pressure and chemical composition.

Abstract

The majority of the world’s plants producing syngas apply steam methane reforming technology in one form or another. In ammonia production, tubular reforming is combined with secondary reforming and air is added to the secondary reformer to combust residual methane from the primary reformer and to adjust the syngas ratio to achieve the H2/N2 ratio of approx. 3.0 for the ammonia synthesis. When nitrogen is an undesired constituent in syngas, e.g. for methanol production, pure oxygen can be used as oxidant in the secondary reformer. Air-fired secondary reformers The following case study illustrates the effect of different burner designs in air-fired secondary reformers on ammonia plants1. In this case study, an ammonia plant secondary reformer gave high methane slip and high approach to equilibrium at high plant rates (see Table 1). Keywords: ATR, POx burner, CTS burner Johnson Matthey, Haldor Topsøe, Casale

Add to basket


Troubleshooting methanol plants

Summary

In today's highly competitive markets, the reliable operation of methanol plants between turnarounds is of paramount importance. Methanol plants are a complex amalgam of rotating equipment, vessels and reactors which, when operating reliably, can give relatively trouble-free performance. But there are many areas of the plant where problems can occur. In addition, methanol producers have to deal with many disturbances and even relatively small differences in the way these are handled can have a big impact on the longer term plant operation. In this article, Johnson Matthey Catalysts, Quest Integrity Group, IPCOS and Emerson Process Management discuss some of the most common problems and provide solutions to achieve trouble-free and reliable methanol plant operation.

Abstract

Steam reforming The methane steam reformer (MSR) is probably the single most complex piece of equipment involving the process side operating at elevated pressure and temperatures up to 880°C combined with combustion of fuel gas to provide the heat of reaction along with heat recovery from the combustion gases. Any of these sub-systems can prove problematic1. One issue that can affect top-fired furnaces, and has been seen on a number of occasions, is one where the outer rows of the furnace are operating at a much cooler temperature than the inner rows, as illustrated in Fig. 1. When first observed, it was thought that the problem stemmed from the design of the coffins (flue gas collection system) in the base of the reformer, but this turned out not to be the case. An examination of the flow pattern inside the reformer was done by injecting a powder (dry powder fire extinguisher, potassium carbonate or others) into the combustion air which glows brightly inside the combustion box and allows the flow pattern to be directly observed. This showed an unexpected flue gas recirculation pattern in which the combustion gas from the outside row of burners was being “sucked” in towards the middle of the reformer and cooler flue gas from the bottom of the box was being pulled up the side wall so reducing the temperature of the outer row of tubes. Keywords: Reformer tube life, wax formation, CFD, continuous process analytics, advanced process control

Add to basket