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Publication > Issue > Articles

Chinese nitrogen industry update: Marginal producer with major muscle

Summary

China's role as swing producer for nitrogen is set to continue in the wake of a surge in first quarter urea exports linked to policy reforms and the falling cost of coal.

Abstract

If anyone was in any doubt, China’s pivotal role in the global nitrogen market has become clearer over the past 12 months. The record volume of Chinese shipments was the “overriding factor” in the urea market last year, according to Canada’s PotashCorp. China exported 13.6 million tonnes of urea in 2014. That figure itself tops the previous Chinese export record in 2013, when it sold 8.3 million tonnes of urea into a global market of 40 million tonnes. And the latest news from analysts CRU is that China exported 1.46 million tonnes of urea in March, lifting its first quarter total for 2015 to a “massive” 4.43 million tonnes. Keywords: Nitrogen; Urea; Ammonia; Swing producer; Capacity; Feedstock; Natural gas; Coal; Anthracite; Bituminous; Methanol; Shandong; Hebei; Henan; Inner Mongolia; Shanxi; Sichuan; Xinjiang; Environment; Ammonium bicarbonate; Carbon capture; Carbon storage; Shale gas; Coke oven gas; CTX; Gross margins

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Foliar fertilizers: Best practices, best products

Summary

Foliar fertilisation offers specific advantages over soil fertilisation when plant demand for nutrients exceeds the capacity of the roots to absorb nutrients and when environmental considerations limit the effectiveness of soil-applied nutrients. We outline the expanding range of products that have been tailor-made for foliar fertilisation.

Abstract

Foliar fertilisation is a method of feeding plants by applying liquid fertilizer directly to their leaves. The absorption takes place through their stomata and also through plants’ epidermis. Transport is usually faster through the stomata, but total absorption may be as great through the epidermis. Plants are also able to absorb nutrients through their bark. Keywords: Soil fertilisation; Nutrients; Leaves; Absorption; Stomata; Epidermis; Supplements; Applications; Sprays; Zinc; Iron; Micronutrients; Tillering; Shoot growth; Boron; Copper; Lint; Fruit; Cuticle; Hydrophilic; Hydrophobic; Cations; Photosynthesis; Proteins; Nucleic acids; Metabolism; Translocation; Potassium; Cotton; Soybean; Nodules; Spraying; Necrosis; pH; Biostimulants; Diffusion; Chelated; Calcium; Triazone; Sulphur

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Russian export duty: Russian government poised to intervene

Summary

Eugene Gerden weighs up the prospects for Russian state intervention on export duties and a fertilizer price freeze.

Abstract

Ever growing complaints by farmers about spiraling fertilizer prices – caused by Russia’s economic troubles and the ruble’s devaluation – have raised the prospect of government-imposed export duties on Russian fertilizers. Since the start of the year, the prices of Russian agriculture’s most popular fertilizers have increased significantly. In the case of ammonium nitrate, the average price has increased by 40% year-on-year to RUB16,091/t. Urea prices have also risen by 37% to RUB18,646/t and potash by 13% to RUB13,230/t in the last 12 months. These hikes have left Russian farmers without sufficient funds to purchase the fertilizers they need for spring sowing – posing a threat to the entire Russian growing season. Keywords: Ruble; Devaluation; Export duties; Access; Anti-monopoly; Price fixing; Duma; Pricing; Levy; Downturn; Investment; Subsidy; Uralkali; PhosAgro; Akron

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Advances in sulphuric acid technology

Summary

We summarise some of the most recent innovations, with a focus on economies in energy consumption, reduced emissions, and enhanced corrosion resistance and plant reliability.

Abstract

At Sulphur 2014, MECS described its recently-commercialised SolvR regenerative SO2 recovery ­technology, which represents the culmination of over 90 years of R&D in devising effective catalyst technologies. With a continuing focus on energy savings and performance improvement, MECS has expanded its catalyst portfolio with the GEAR® that utilises a unique hexa-lobed ring shape. By geometrically optimising the catalyst shape, the MECS GEAR® catalyst offers more surface area for access to active sites. When loaded into a catalyst bed, the hexa-lobed ring shape creates a catalyst bed configuration which increases spacing between the catalyst rings, lowering pressure drop significantly. Keywords: SO2 recovery; Catalyst; Energy savings; Hexa-lobe; Energy savings; Pressure drop; Spent acid regeneration; Caesium; Emissions; Daisy-shaped; TEM; Vanadium; Dimeric activity; Converter; HP steam; SO3; Recirculation; Heat recovery; Saturated steam; Superheater; BFW; Tower; MRT; Mercury; Hydrometallurgical; Eluent; Quenching; Venturi; Thermoplastic; FRP; Fluoro-thermoplastic; Duallaminate; Interpass; Equilibrium; Absorption; Debottlenecking; Scrubbing

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Who's who in plant revamping

Summary

We profile the principal players in the fertilizer plant refurbishment and modernisation business.

Abstract

Why revamp? The growing number of fertilizer plant revamps in recent years has been driven by factors such as rising feedstock prices and increasingly stringent emissions ­standards. For producers, plant modernisation delivers the dual benefit of higher capacity and improved energy efficiency. Adopting the latest production technologies also offers the opportunity to remove plant ­bottlenecks and improve reliability. But securing a prompt return on investment also means keeping capital outlay low and production interruptions to a minimum. Keywords: Revamp; Refurbishment; Modernisation; Bottlenecks; Reliability; Payback; Overhaul; Savings; EPC; Stamicarbon; Prayon; SNC Lavalin; ThyssenKrupp; Casale; KBR; FEED; Granulation; Yara; PDP; Feedstock; Capacity; Efficiency; Synthesis; Impurities; Debottleneck; Upgrade; Converter; Heat exchanger; Catalyst; Contractor; Licensor; Innovation; Reactor; Emissions; Granulator; EPCM; Contract

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Phosphate granulation: The quest for top quality

Summary

Curtis Griffin, Process Engineering Supervisor, PegasusTSI, outlines the history of phosphate granulation and describes the latest state-of-the-art technologies.

Abstract

The use of phosphate as a fertilizer can be traced back to the mid-19th century, when it was discovered that P promoted growth in plants and animals. The earliest phosphate fertilizers were derived from the crushed bones of animals. Phosphate rock was first mined in England for use as a fertilizer, while the first discovery of Florida’s rich resource of phosphate pebbles was made in 1881. Production of mono-ammonium phosphate (MAP) began in 1920, while production of granular superphosphates by the Oberphos process began in around 1929. Keywords: Phosphate rock; TVA; Ammoniator-granulator; Superphosphate; MAP; DAP; Formulation; Process; Sulphuric acid; Dryer; Mixer; Pug mill; Dorr-Pliver; Swift process; Granulator; Recycle ratio; Drum; Agglomeration; Moisture; SGN; UI; Citrate; Insoluble; CI; Reactor; Cascade; Nozzles; Sparger; Impurities

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Phosphates 2015: Survival of the fittest as competition hots up

Summary

Over 400 delegates gathered in Tampa Florida between 23-25 March for CRU's Phosphates 2015 conference

Abstract

The conference opened with a refreshingly candid keynote address from Mosaic’s senior vice president, Rick McLellan. Innovation is important to “how this company survives and thrives going forward”, McLellan told delegates. “Innovation doesn’t just happen, it needs leadership, commitment and the development of a culture within your business,” said McLellan. “Innovation has to focus on continuous improvement. If you do something one time and call that innovation, it’s just luck.” Keywords: Conference; Keynote; Innovation; Mosaic; Water; Resource; Sustainability; Nutrient use efficiency; Capacity; Ramp-up; China; Brazil; India; United States; North America; MGA; DAP; MAP; TSP; Phosphate rock; Australia; Argentina; South East Asia; Animal feed; Russia; Morocco; Jorf Lasfar; OCP; Saudi Arabia; Egypt; M&A; PWA; TPA; Biofuels; DAPR; Beneficiation; Phytase; Technology;

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Processing igneous phosphate: Concentrating the apatite

Summary

Igneous phosphates are often highly amenable to mineral processing. With the right flowsheet, they can be concentrated by a factor of between five and six to yield high purity products.

Abstract

Igneous phosphates account for around 15-20% of global production with sizeable deposits in Brazil, Russia, Finland, South and East Africa and Canada (Figure 1). Their mineral processing characteristics are very different from those of sedimentary phosphates due to their distinctive mineralogy, texture and mode of origin. The three main types of igneous phosphates, carbonatite, nepheline-syenite and pyroxenite, are generally coarse-textured and contain well-formed apatite crystals. They are also rich in fluorapatite (Ca5(PO4)3F) in contrast to the collophane or francolite typical of sedimentary phosphates. Mineral processing requirements of the three main igneous phosphate ores vary due to their gangue mineral content. Keywords: Apatite; Igneous; Sedimentary; Phytase; Crushing; Homogeneous; Phosphate rock; Concentrate; Carbonatite; Nepheline-syenite; Collophane; Gangue; Pyroxenite; Crystals; Fluorapatite; Francolite; Calcite; Dolomite; Processing; Crystalline; pH; Mica; Magnetite; Quartz; Alkali; Recovery; Silicates; Flotation; Reserves; Barite; Stearyl; Run-of-mine; Desliming; Phoscorite; HGM; Thickening; Beneficiation

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Potash solution mining: The right solution for potash

Summary

Solution mining potentially confers a number of cost and technological advantages in comparison to conventional methods of potash extraction

Abstract

After some recent successes, this year looks like being the start of a make-or-break period for greenfield potash development in general, and potash solution mining in particular. A crowded field of junior mining companies are vying for investor interest at a time when their viability is looking increasingly precarious due to faltering potash prices and the risk of market oversupply. Keywords: Greenfield; Junior mining; Solar; Canada; Congo; Ethiopia; Saskatchewan; Danakil; Extraction; Undergound; Flooding; Payback; Investment; Water; Dewatering; Borehole; Brine; Sylvinite; Ore; Sylvite; Halite; Carnallite; Clay; Dolomite; CAPEX; OPEX; Energy; Feasibility; Evaporation; Saturated; Temperature

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