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Publication > Issue > Articles

Focus on Turkey

Summary

As the Nitrogen+Syngas conference moves to Istanbul this year, Nitrogen+Syngas looks at Turkey's role in nitrogen markets, and the prospects for the country in the years ahead.

Abstract

Turkey’s economy has been through something of a rollercoaster ride over the past decade or so. Following its currency and banking crisis in 2001, economic reforms halved debt: GDP ratio and brought inflation down from a high of 70% to single digits. Even after the financial crash of 2008, when the economy contracted by 5%, Turkey appeared to be in relatively good shape compared to much of the continent, and it emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, growing by 9.2% in 2010 and 8.5% in 2011, leading to ambitious plans by president Erdogan for Turkey to become one of the world’s top 10 economies (it is currently ranked 16th). However, more recently this slowed dramatically to 2.1% in 2012 and only rebounded to 4% in 2013 and 3% in 2014. There have been warnings about current account deficits, public and private debt, and too great an emphasis on the construction sector. Keywords: GUBRETAS, BAGFAS, TOROS, DAP, MAP, NPK

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Africa revisited

Summary

The past couple of years have seen several of the major nitrogen and syngas project developments planned for sub-Saharan Africa founder on project costs and gas availability, but the region retains huge potential for the development of stranded gas resources. Is it time for a fresh look at Africa?

Abstract

Two years ago, Nitrogen+Syngas looked at the rapid proliferation of new ammonia-urea and methanol projects planned for sub-Saharan Africa (‘Africa’s gas rush’, Nitrogen+Syngas 325, Sept/Oct 2013). Since then, however, it has not been plain sailing, and several of the proposed projects have been delayed or cancelled. Nevertheless, the region remains one with great potential for the development of stranded gas resources – indeed, perhaps the last major region in the world where that is still the case. In this article we revisit the projects, the potential, and the gas developments which are driving them. Gas is the key New gas discoveries have been the key to this sudden interest in the region. Six of the 10 largest energy finds in 2013 were in Africa, and more than 500 companies are now exploring across the continent. North Africa has been the traditional site for gas discoveries and exploitation, with Algeria, Libya and Egypt all major producers. Attention switched to west Africa, with associated gas in Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea, and offshore gas discoveries in Angola and Namibia. But East Africa has been the hottest ticket for new discoveries in the past few years, accounting for more than 25% of all reserves added worldwide from 2020-2013, led by Mozambique in particular (where 80% of East African discoveries have taken place) and Tanzania, as well as considerable interest in Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda. Keywords: MOZAMBIQUE, TANZANIA, NIGERIA, SOUTH AFRICA, ANGOLA, LNG, UREA, AMMONIA, METHANOL

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Global gas markets

Summary

Russia's pivot east, the continuing growth of LNG markets, Europe's transition to hub-based pricing and the prospect of US shale gas exports as LNG are all continuing to change the rapidly evolving global gas market.

Abstract

Outside of China, the predominance of natural gas as a feedstock for syngas-based industries continues, due to its relatively low cost and ease of handling – gas-based plants do not require expensive feedstock treatment and gasification front-ends, and hence require less capital investment, and gas has generally been a relatively abundant and fairly cheap source of energy. However, the worldwide marketplace for gas continues to evolve, with the spread of LNG use beginning to tie together a truly global gas market, while in places such as North America and Europe the spread of hub-based pricing has started to erode the market’s previous reliance on oil-indexed pricing, which has become a major bone of contention in a period of high oil prices. While the continuing rise of gas as a fuel for power generation has driven ever-more cross-border transit, via pipeline and LNG, and the consequent disappearance of cheap ‘stranded’ gas, the growth in production of gas from unconventional sources; shale gas, coalbed methane, tight gas and sour gas, is a further complicating factor. Keywords: RUSSIA, EUROPE, EU, CHINA, AMERICA, LNG, SHALE, PRICES

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Faster and more reliable ammonia leak detection

Summary

Early detection of ammonia leaks in ammonia and urea plants reduces the incidence of explosion, fires and the exposure of humans to dangerous levels of gaseous ammonia. New improved methods of leak detection have been adopted in recent years including Boreal Laser's GasFinder technology and Smartec's fibre optic distributed temperature sensing.

Abstract

Ammonia risks and incidents Annual production of ammonia from over 550 plants worldwide now exceeds 200 million tonnes. The primary use (83%) of ammonia is for fertilizers – with the largest component being feedstock for urea manufacture (500 urea plants worldwide). Ammonia is stable in typical atmospheric conditions and is considered a non-flammable gas. However, ammonia is toxic and can produce negative health effects in humans. OSHA has set a 15-minute exposure limit for gaseous ammonia of 35 ppm by volume in ambient air and an 8-hour exposure limit of 25 ppm by volume. NIOSH recently reduced the IDLH for ammonia from 500 to 300. IDLH (Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health) is the level to which a healthy worker can be exposed for 30 minutes without suffering irreversible health effects. Exposure to very high concentrations of gaseous ammonia can result in lung damage and death. The average odour threshold of 5 ppm provides some warning of imminent danger. Given the large amounts of ammonia that are produced, transported and consumed worldwide, the potential for accidents is considerable. Potential sources of ammonia leaks in ammonia and urea production are mainly associated with high pressure equipment, storage facilities and loading and unloading operations. The final step in the Haber-Bosch ammonia manufacturing process involves a high pressure ammonia compressor, having a set of primary and secondary seals. There is always ambient ammonia in the vicinity of this compressor because of bleed past the seals. Reliable ammonia monitoring around compressors is therefore desirable to ensure fast response in the case of primary seal failure. Keywords: ammonia risks, ammonia detection, ammonia safety, laser gas detection, ammonia storage tanks, HP equipment, Boreal Laser, Smartec, fibre optic distributed temperature sensing

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Services to improve steam reformer performance

Summary

Johnson Matthey offers a number of different and equally powerful techniques to monitor reformer operation and resolve reformer problems. By focussing on solving specific issues and tailoring the offer to the needs of the operator, Johnson Matthey has a tool for assessing every reformer problem.

Abstract

Many customers consider the steam reformer (reformer) to be the most complex and expensive part of their ammonia, methanol or hydrogen plant. Monitoring the plant during both normal and unfamiliar operations is therefore extremely important. In extreme cases, getting it wrong can lead to complete reformer tube failure. Whilst these cases tend to be the result of deviation from procedure, operation under normal conditions can also be far from optimum, having an impact on plant efficiency and reliability. Any time and money spent on monitoring a reformer is therefore a worthwhile investment; a well operated reformer is key to ensuring that a synthesis gas plant remains efficient, produces the maximum potential product and operates reliably with minimal downtime. Furthermore, optimised reformer operation reduces emissions per unit of product and is potentially safer. Reformers suffer from a range of potential issues which can all lead to limitations on achievable production rates, reformer/plant efficiency and can lead to significant down time determining the root cause and making repairs. Problems on the reformer can be due to: l catalyst poisoning due to incorrect operation of the purification section of the plant leading to excessive carbon formation and hence high tube wall temperatures (TWTs); l tube failure due to excessively high TWTs or operational upsets; l poor design or maintenance of reformer burners which can lead to flue gas maldistribution causing high TWTs or ineffective reformer performance; l poor maintenance allowing degradation of refractory which increases reformer heat losses; l damage to the tunnels resulting in flue gas mal-distribution and hence TWT mal-distribution; l reformer tubes and sub components corrosion or operation above design temperatures leading to premature failure; l maldistribution of combustion air leading to TWT variations. Keywords: reformer survey, tube wall temperature, pyrometer, thermocouple, Reformer Imager, reformer monitoring, Johnson Matthey

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New insights into the ammonia oxidation process

Summary

A new tool for process simulation developed by amoxEXPERT provides unprecedented insight of the reactions occurring at the catalyst in the ammonia oxidation process, helping to understand and positively adjust the most important yield-determining step. Dr J. Neumann reports on these new developments and how they can be used to optimise the ammonia oxidation process.

Abstract

The performance of the Ostwald process for NO synthesis from NH3 and O2 on a Pt alloy gauze catalyst has been simulated by applying a model which describes the formation of all nitrogen-containing products, N2, NO and N2O of which only nitric oxide (NO) is the target product of economic interest. The simulation is based on science-based rate equations obtained from well-defined surface experiments. In consideration of thermodynamic principles and combined with appropriate mathematical models, the modelling allows the prediction of product selectivity for the reactions forming N2, NO and N2O under the conditions of an industrial ammonia burner. Keywords: modelling, process simulation, nitric acid, amoxExpert, ammonia oxidation

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Plant Manager+Problem No. 28: How to avoid hot prills in the prill tower bottom

Summary

Hot prills can easily cause caking because heat transfer and moisture transfer take place due to the temperature difference between the hot prills and the other prills. Caking is the process of building crystal bridges between the urea particles. Caking leads to lump formation and consequently dust formation when these lumps are crushed. This all leads to poor product quality and customer complaints, but how can hot prills be avoided? A Round Table discussion about an incident during the cleaning of a scraper (see Plant Manager+ Problem No. 27) triggered a subsequent discussion on how to avoid hot prills; hot prills obviously cause more fouling of a scraper.

Abstract

Mr Mark Brouwer of UreaKnowHow.com in the Netherlands starts the Round Table discussion: The incident: During 2010 overhaul activity employees were in the prilling tower for cleaning the lumps on the scraper’s arms. A steel structure with a wooden platform on top was used for safety of the employees. A big lump fell down on steel structure breaking the wooden platform. The shoulder of one employee was crashed without major injuries. Keywords: urea lumps, prill tower, scraper arms, prill bucket speed, product humidity, prill size

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