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Industrial uses for nitrogen

Summary

In spite of the preponderance of nitrogen demand for fertilizer use, technical or industrial uses of ammonia and its derivatives account for a significant and growing percentage of global ammonia demand, especially in industrialised regions such as Europe, North America, and increasingly Asia.

Abstract

Most ammonia is used to make nitrogen fertilizer – particularly urea and to a lesser extent ammonium nitrate. However, ammonia is also a feedstock for a number of chemical processes, and there are also industrial or ‘technical’ uses for urea and AN. The global nitrogen industry consumed just over 136 million tonnes N in 2012, and this is expected to rise to 141 million tonnes N in 2013, according to the most recent IFA estimates. Most of this began life as ammonia – some nitrates like sodium and calcium nitrate are mined, and there is widespread use of plant manures in agriculture, but these represent only a small percentage of total N use – ammonia production remains the only artificial means of fixing atmospheric nitrogen. That 136 million tonnes N thus represents about 165 million t/a of ammonia equivalent. Of this total, some 56% is used in the production of urea (just under 85% of which is in turn consumed as a nitrogen fertilizer). Other ammonia derived fertilizers have much smaller shares – about 13% for ammonium nitrate, calcium ammonium nitrate and UAN (of which around 75% was actually put to fertilizer use), 6.3% ends up as mono- and di-ammonium phosphate (MAP/DAP), and 5% as ammonium bicarbonate (all of it in China). Ammonium sulphate (AS) production totalled around 4.7% 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 other technical applications such as metal leaching and caprolactam production. Finally, a further 4% of all ammonia production was used in direct ammonia application as a fertilizer, mostly in the US. Keywords: CAPROLACTAM, MELAMINE, FORMALDEHYDE, EGAN, IGAN

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Syngas from renewables

Summary

Jim Abbott of Johnson Matthey Process Technologies looks at process options for converting renewable energy sources on the one hand and biomass on the other into useable syngas.

Abstract

Johnson Matthey has a long history in the field of syngas production and conversion, both in technology development and catalysis. While the use of different feed-stocks and energy sources has changed over time, syngas has proven to be an enduring intermediate in the production of valuable end products. Clean energy technology A successful transition towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy system in 2050 requires large scale implementation of sustainable and renewable energy sources. The European CO2 emission reduction target of 80% in 2050, relative to 1990 emission levels, implies that the power production sector should be fully sustainable by then and that other sectors, like the industry and mobility sectors, should rely largely on sustainable use of energy sources1. Keywords: BIOFUEL, WIND, SOLAR, SNG, GASIFICATION, BTL, ELECTROLYSIS, NICKEL, HYDROGEN, METHANOL, BIOMASS

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Emission monitoring in nitric acid plants

Summary

Dr. Michael Kamphus, Application Engineer for Process Gas Analysers at Emerson Process Management, Rosemount Analytical, takes an in-depth look at techniques for emission monitoring in nitric acid plants to support emission reduction and gain carbon trading credits.

Abstract

Nitric acid is one of the world’s 15 largest commodity chemicals, with an annual production of about 55 million t/a. Approximately 80% is used as intermediate in the production of nitrogenous fertilizers, primarily ammonium nitrate, and the remaining 20% is used in the production of various chemicals such as explosives or as intermediates for polymers like caprolactam, adipic acid or dinitrotoluene. Emission regulations on nitrogen oxide and nitrous oxide from nitric acid plants are being implemented in more and more areas around the world, and in other areas, emission level requirements are being tightened. These emission levels can only be achieved with additional measures, like abatement technologies, which have to be added to existing plants or considered for new plants. This paper details the various abatement technologies and the analytical measurements to control the abatement process and monitor the remaining emissions. Nitric acid (HNO3) is produced by oxidizing ammonia (NH3) with air over a catalyst (platinum alloyed with rhodium) to nitrogen oxide (NO); 4 NH3 + 5 O2 → 4 NO + 6 H2O Keywords: NOX, N2O, SCR, KYOTO, CDM, PRIMARY, SECONDARY, TERTIARY, ABATEMENT, PHOTOMETER

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A new benchmark for ammonia production

Summary

Haldor Topsøe has introduced its highest ever performing ammonia synthesis catalyst, KM 111. The new magnetite-based catalyst is developed for optimal performance in the lower beds of the ammonia converter. Using KM 111 in conjunction with Topsøe's industry-leading catalyst KM1 increases the profitability of ammonia production through record high production levels as well as savings in energy consumption. S. M. King and J. Jönsson of Haldor Topsøe A/S report on how this new catalyst fits into Topsoe's catalyst and technology portfolio.

Abstract

Ammonia is widely known as an important industrial chemical, used in the manufacture of products ranging from fertilizers to plastics and fibres, and its production is one of the highest of all inorganic chemicals. Over 80% of the ammonia produced worldwide is currently utilised in fertilizers for food production, and these demands on the ammonia industry will only continue owing to the current trend of global population growth. At the same time, the current global economy and regional fluctuations in feedstock prices are putting pressure on ammonia producers to cost-optimise their operations. These factors together stress the need for constant improvements in the production process and the importance of selecting technology and catalyst solutions that maximise production as well as efficiency. Topsøe has long valued the importance of high-quality products that deliver performance and efficiency. Fundamental and applied research efforts have been a cornerstone of the company since its founding, and these efforts have led to the introduction of numerous industry-leading products, such as Topsøe’s KM ammonia synthesis catalyst. The KM catalyst is the most successful ammonia synthesis catalyst on the market, known throughout the world for its superior performance. Over 1,200 charges of the catalyst have been sold since its introduction, and it is used in the production of over half of the world’s ammonia. Keywords: KM 111, ammonia synthesis catalyst, radial flow converter, magnetite catalyst, S300

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Extending the life of urea reactors

Summary

It is often possible to extend the lifetime of a urea reactor by partially relining it during a planned shutdown period. The relining should be planned carefully and tailored to the specific design of the urea reactor. This article reviews the key considerations when relining a urea reactor that has been subject to corrosion over time. Latest trends in urea reactor design and a new manufacturing technique for site assembly are also discussed.

Abstract

In many cases it is possible to extend the lifetime of a urea reactor. During normal operation of urea reactors common overall corrosion can be found on the internals as well as on the corrosion resistant liner on the reactor wall. While corrosion of the internals is not critical to safety, the corrosion of the liner is. After many years of operations the liner thickness will eventually become insufficient to form an adequate barrier against the corrosive ammonium carbamate. The lifetime of the reactor of course strongly depends on the material used for this protective layer. Stamicarbon philosophies and experience Urea reactors designed for service in Stamicarbon urea plants are typically designed to have a lifetime of 25 years, but many urea plants operate their urea reactors for significantly longer. Keywords: corrosion, PWHT, Stamicarbon, Saipem, Casale, solid wall reactors, multi-layer reactors, inspection, non-destructive testing

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Innovative nitrogen fertilizer finishing

Summary

Regulation limits for the emissions of particulates and ammonia from nitrogen fertilizer granulation plants have been progressively tightened in recent years. In response, the latest high-efficiency scrubbing technologies and fluid bed granulation technologies have set new standards in urea granulation and emission control. In this article we report on the latest developments from Uhde Fertilizer Technology, Stamicarbon and Casale.

Abstract

Fertilizer grade urea production has risen at a phenomenal pace and, partly due to the availability of low-cost natural gas, a plant construction boom is currently underway. Many of the new large-scale plants are being built in countries with strict environmental regulations which require extremely efficient but still economical emission reduction systems. The new plants being built in the USA have to comply with stringent environmental regulations for emissions including particulate matter (PM) and stack plume visibility (opacity). Some of these plants have design capacities smaller than the more export orientated plants. With their smaller capacity and favourable climatic conditions they have the potential to use innovative plant designs to reduce investment and operating costs1. In North Africa and in the Persian Gulf Region individual plant capacities have increased significantly in recent years. Single-line plants with a capacity of 3,000-3,500 t/d have become standard. QAFCO already operates two UFT designed granulation plants with capacities of 3,850 t/d. In operation both QAFCO plants have achieved daily capacities of over 4,200 t/d, similar plants are in the last stages of commissioning. Plans for larger single line plants with capacities of up to 5,000 t/d are being considered. The limiting factor here is the capacity of the urea synthesis plants. Keywords: particulate matter, stack plume visibility, fluid bed granulation, ammonia emissions, dust emissions, horizontal cross flow scrubber, Aerosep®, UAS, MicroMist Venturi, Vortex® granulation

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Plant Manager+ Problem No. 23 CO2 compressor capacity limitation

Summary

The CO2 compressor in a urea plant is a unique and interesting high-pressure rotating piece of equipment. CO2 is compressed from more or less atmospheric conditions to supercritical conditions. The CO2 is saturated with water, mixed with air and sometimes contaminated with the absorption solution from the ammonia plant. This means that its behaviour is not always easy to predict and having sufficient experience is very important. As the CO2 compressor is often a limiting factor in the urea plant, how best to debottleneck it is always an interesting topic.

Abstract

Mr Faisal Ghadoor of Fertil in the UAE initiates the following discussion: We are operating a CO2 compressor at a suction temperature/pressure of 50°C/0.5 kg/cm2g and a discharge pressure of 139 kg/cm2g. The limitation is the third stage pressure (67.7 kg/cm2g), which is quite near to the PSV setting (70 kg/cm2g). Can anybody share their experience or give their technical opinion on the following: If we bypass the chiller and allow a higher gas temperature of 58°C and a higher suction gas pressure of 0.62 kg/cm2g, what would the impact be on the interstage pressures/temperatures if we keep the discharge pressure constant at 139 kg/cm2g by adjusting the rpm of the machine? Keywords: CO2 compressor, interstage temperature, discharge pressure, suction, CO2 desorber, chiller

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