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

Does AN have a future?

Summary

The aftermath of the Toulouse explosion and fears of terrorist misuse have seen countries worldwide beginning to tighten regulations on ammonium nitrate. In such a climate, does ammonium nitrate have a future?

Abstract

Ammonium nitrate has been popular as a fertilizer since the 1920s. However, first AN’s share of total fertilizer use, and, since 1989, AN’s absolute level of demand have begun to fall, initially because of the take-up of urea in the developing world, and more recently because of fears over safety and security following the twin events of September 2001: the World Trade Center attack and the explosion of the Grande Paroisse AN warehouse at Toulouse. In the past year or so, several countries have banned fertilizer grade AN, including China, Colombia, Algeria and the Philippines. The climate is becoming distinctly chillier for AN.

Add to basket


Catalyst makers address the N2O challenge

Summary

Nitric acid producers would like to be able to suppress nitrous oxide formation in the ammonia oxidation reactor and therefore avoid the expense and maintenance ­requirement of additional tail gas treatment. There's a little way to go yet.

Abstract

It is only in the last few years that the deleterious potential of nitrous oxide (“laughing gas” or dinitrogen oxide, N2O) – in the environment has been appreciated. Nitrous oxide is not destroyed or removed by any known process in the climatic zone of the atmosphere (troposphere), as it is chemically very inert and is virtually insoluble in water and is therefore not ab­sorbed into rainfall. Practically the only pathway by which it is removed from the atmosphere is by gradual diffusion into the stratosphere, where it under­goes photochemical reactions which contribute to ozone depletion.

It does not end there. Nitrous oxide is also a potent “greenhouse” gas, contributing to global warming. It is a stronger absorber of infrared radiation than carbon dioxide and, if its longevity in the atmosphere is taken into account as well, it has no less than 310 times as much global warming effect as carbon dioxide1.

Add to basket


Users present their perspectives at methanol technology forum

Summary

Now under the stewardship of Johnson Matthey following their purchase of Synetix, the Seventh ICI Methanol Technology Operators' Forum (IMTOF) was held at the Langham Hilton hotel from June 9th–11th.

Abstract

The name may change but the conference continues! The company licensing ICI methanol technology has altered from ICI Katalco to Synetix and now Johnson Matthey, but the IMTOF forum, now ensconsed in its familiar home of London, continues to attract interested parties from around the world. This year’s meeting, in the imposing surrounds of the Langham Hilton, drew 130 participants from 25 countries.

Add to basket


Technology for today's nitric acid market

Summary

The main contemporary issues for the nitric acid industry are suppressing emissions of nitrous oxide and boosting the output strength of normal plants to azeotropic concentration for non-fertilizer use. Luis Marzo shows how Espindesa has addressed them in its design for a new plant in China.

Abstract

In the last few years, espindesa has been directing its development effort in nitric acid technology towards attaining two objectives demanded by the market: low N2O tail gas emissions and azeo­tropic acid production.

An 866-t/d azeotropic-concentration nitric acid plant is currently being designed for the new BASF polyurethanes complex in Caojing (PRC), incorporating some of the new technologies.

Add to basket


A proactive approach to reformer tube replacement

Summary

Venkat Pattabathula and Don Timbres of Agrium Inc discuss techniques used at Agrium's Borger ammonia plant to predict reformer tube failure, including ultrasonic attenuation, eddy current response, wall thickness and profilometry (outside diameter), coupled with computer modelling. As a result, a new catalyst tube design was introduced which has eliminated a problem at a dissimilar metal weld joint (DMW) at the tube top transition location.

Abstract

Managing reformer integrity is essential to the safe and reliable operation of ammonia plant equipment. MW Kellogg originally designed the Agrium Borger Nitrogen Operations (BNO) ammonia plant in 1968 for a capacity of 1,000st/d, and over the last 30 years the plant production rates were increased in steps to the current capacity of 1,500st/d. In 1989, a major reformer revamp was carried out and new HP-50 niobium-modified tubes were installed. The plant was operated at 1,230st/d until 1994 until, with some other debottleneck projects, the plant was upgraded to 1,450st/d in 1995 and then to 1,500st/d in 1998.

The BNO primary reformer has nine rows of tubes with 42 tubes on each row, for a total 378 catalyst tubes. The reformer furnace has been operated with utmost care by monitoring tube wall temperatures (weekly), and with no hot spots. Hence, no tube failures have been experienced since the last revamp in 1989. The tubes were first inspected in 1995 using the ultrasonic attenuation technique, following another six years of operation, the reformer catalyst and riser tubes were inspected in 2001 using the HScan technique.

Add to basket


Relocation: opportunities and challenges

Summary

Although the attraction of relocating a manufacturing facility is the lower cost of the major equipment items, many other issues must be borne in mind. Here, Ahmad Kusha of HPI Project Managers discusses reasons and methodologies for relocating chemical plants.

Abstract

The idea of acquiring an existing idle production facility or a complete but uncommissioned project for relocation to a new site, in order to enjoy lower feedstock prices and/or market logistics is not a new one. The archives of chemical processing industries are well documented with such events worldwide. The first major plant relocation of a fertilizer facility happened in 1976, although of course cannibalising parts of an idle plant for some specific piece of equipment has been a common practice in industry since its earliest days. These days relocation of idle plant has become a global issue, with both opportunities and challenges for executives and project engineers, in particular the questions of when, what and where to relocate.

Sometimes plants are idle for other reasons – during the last two decades there have been several grassroots project at an advanced phase of construction phase which have been cancelled, temporarily shelved or put on the market for sale and ultimately relocation. Most of them have been relocated as complete facilities and some equipment has been sold as spares for other similar facilities as well. Table 1 lists some such projects which were cancelled at a late stage of construction – in some cases it took executives 20 years to make a decision on cancellation!

Add to basket