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Publication > Issue > Articles

Controlling the stresses of the primary reformer

Summary

Risk associated with the primary reformer is highly dependent on its operation. In this article we look at common problems associated with catalyst tubes, pigtails, operating close to material limits etc. and discuss latest practices and new materials to prevent these issues and allow plants to run at maximum output without unplanned outages.

Abstract

Steam reformers used in hydrogen, ammonia and methanol plants are complex, energy intensive and expensive. By nature their design is often aggressive, due to the need for harsh operating conditions and specialty materials. A failure in the primary reformer typically has large financial implications, often running into millions of dollars, as significant downtime is incurred alongside the costs of tubes, engineering and catalyst. Keywords: primary reformer, steam methane reformer, steam methane reforming, reformer furnace, risk, problems, catalyst tubes, reformer tubes, pigtails, materials, heat flux, stress to rupture, creep, alloy, outlet system, Centralloy G4859 Micro, Centralloy H 101 Micro, low carbon alloy, high temperature corrosion, reformer revamping, convection section, orifice plate, tube failure mechanisms, pinched tubes, thermal shock, overfiring protection management, tube wall temperature, TWT, monitoring, measurement, tube inspection, tube cleaning, creep strain, remaining life, thermal imager, AMETEK Land, IKR Richter, Sandvik, Schmidt + Clemens, Casale, Quest Integrity, Topsoe, Clariant, Reformer Services

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Science inspiring better catalysts

Summary

Catalysts are a crucial part of every syngas and ammonia production unit. Catalyst performance is directly linked to the profitability of a plant. A robust catalyst that is easy to start-up and tolerant towards varying process conditions is also decisive for improving the on-stream factor of a plant. In this article Johnson Matthey discusses its inspiring science to extend purification and LTS catalyst life and Clariant reports on its latest catalyst developments for pre-reforming, reforming and HTS.

Abstract

Johnson Matthey purification and LTS catalysts Johnson Matthey (JM) seeks to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and sustainable impact of its products, enabling JM customers to achieve high productivity by making more for less. One of the most critical duties in an ammonia plant which can force the timing of outages is the low temperature shift (LTS). The outages caused by the LTS are typically either due to lack of conversion (high CO slip) or pressure drop. Keywords: catalyst, syngas, ammonia production, purification, LTS, pre-reforming, reforming, HTS, chromium free, wetting, sintering, poisons, Johnson Matthey, Clariant

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Plant Manager+ Problem No. 54: High efficiency trays for the urea reactor

Summary

The main reasons for the installion of high efficiency trays (HET) in a urea reactor are as follows: 1) to improve the redistribution of unreacted carbon dioxide inside the liquid phase rich in free ammonia, 2) to reduce the back mixing phenomena due to the density increase of carbamate and urea solution from the bottom to the top of the reactor and 3) to reduce channelling which has a negative effect on the solution residence time.

Abstract

Prabhat Srivastava from Tata Chemical Limited, India, starts the round table discussion: Casale supplies high efficiency reactor trays for increasing conversion efficiency. I have read a short article about another type of high efficiency trays named SuperCups. Does anyone know anything about these high efficiency SuperCups developed by Saipem? Do you know of any references where they are being used? Keywords: high efficiency tray, HET, Casale, urea reactor, N/C ratio, CO2 conversion, SuperCups, Saipem, steam consumption

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The merchant ammonia market

Summary

New capacity has is being developed in Russia, Indonesia and the Middle East, while the US continues to build plants aimed at import substitution, reducing demand there.

Abstract

While most ammonia goes to captive, downstream uses, particularly urea and nitric acid/ammonium nitrate production, some ammonia is traded across borders. These volumes are relatively small compared to ammonia production as a whole, as ammonia is relatively difficult to handle. Keywords: CARIBBEAN, OCP, MOROCCO, TAMPA, SUPPLY, DEMAND, PRICE, PRICES, TRADE, PHOSPHATE, IRAN, CHINA

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China's urea industry: a dramatic turnaround

Summary

The impact of China's environmental crackdown and rising domestic feedstock prices has been to decimate the country's urea capacity. Exports are falling year by year – could China become a net importer again?

Abstract

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of urea, and the balance between the two and the consequent volume of imports or exports that the country experiences has long been one of the key factors driving global urea markets. China has long pursued a policy of self-sufficiency in domestic nitrogen production, but in spite of this capacity growth lagged behind rapidly increasing demand during the 1980s, and China was a large net importer of urea during this era. Keywords: CLOSURE, RATIONALISE, RATIONALISATION, RATIONALIZE, RATIONALIZATION, MONGOLIA, IRAN, EXPORT, IMPORT, DEF, LNG,

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Return of US methanol capacity

Summary

The US has seen a huge upturn in domestic methanol production, as cheap natural gas lures back capacity that had drifted overseas, and offering the possibility of the country becoming a net exporter in just a few years.

Abstract

The US methanol industry has been on something of a rollercoaster ride over the past three decades. During the 1990s, capacity surged on the back of fuel demand for methanol derivative methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) due to an oxygenated fuel standard, at the same time that gas industry deregulation led to a fall in domestic gas prices. Keywords: METHANEX, G2X, NWIW, CHINA, MTO, OLEFINS, PRIMUS, YUHUANG, MTHL, TRINIDAD

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Strategies for ammonia and methanol co-production

Summary

The ability to produce both ammonia and methanol in the same plant allows for synergies in process design as well as spreading market risk for a plant development. This article looks at some of Haldor Topsoe's most recent developments in the area.

Abstract

As methanol and ammonia plants are both based on reforming or partial oxidation of a carbon-based feedstock, typically coal or natural gas, there has often been interest in using a common upstream syngas generation section to produce both chemicals, taking advantage of synergies between the processes to produce multiple product streams more efficiently than via two stand-alone plants, and spreading market risk. Keywords: IMAP, SYNCOR, CAPEX, OPEX, ATR, AUTOTHERMAL, PSA, SHIFT, METHANOLATION, METHANATION

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