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Striking it lucky

Summary

Australia's reputation as the 'lucky country' has been given another boost by large-scale discoveries of oil and gas around its costs, discoveries which are now driving ammonia and methanol and downstream developments. But risks remain. Nitrogen & Methanol looks at Australia's new gas-based petrochemical industry.

Abstract

Australia has been one of the big news stories for the nitrogen and methanol industries in recent years. The discovery and development of large gas basins, especially off the country’s north west shelf, has led to a vast array of new project proposals. Nevertheless, so far none of these are up and running, and a variety of reasons have delayed development.

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DeNOx: an opportunity for urea producers?

Summary

With the Phase III standards for NOx emissions in combustion gases now in force, some large US boiler and furnace installations are using urea in their DeNOx systems instead of anhydrous or aqua ammonia.

Abstract

Urea has a longer history in nitrogen oxides (NOx) control than one might think. Nearly 30 years ago Hydro used a urea solution to scrub NOx out of the tail gas from an atmospheric-pressure nitric acid plant and also to moderate the production of nitrogen oxides in its nitrophosphates plant at Porsgrunn, Norway. Some of the urea nitrogen was converted to ammonium nitrate, but the rest was converted to gaseous nitrogen. The process was a “one-off”, though: it was not especially efficient, and it would have been very expensive in most other contexts. It just happened to be expedient under the specific circumstances at that site and that time.

Today urea is finding a growing use in controlling NOx emissions, not so much from fertilizer or chemical processes but from combustion installations, and particularly on the eastern side of the United States, where new regulations have stimulated the latest round of NOx abatement installations.

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TEC – new focuses

Summary

Japan's Toyo Engineering Corporation (TEC) is evolving its business strategies to compete in the global marketplace. David Hayes talked to TEC's Kenji Sato about the company's plans and activities.

Abstract

International demand for urea continues to expand due to the need to raise food production in line with the current rate of global population growth. According to Toyo, demand for urea is estimated to be growing by 2% to 3% annually, mainly in developing countries where population growth is highest. This is equivalent to four new 1,750 t/d urea plants being built every year.

While demand for urea is expected to continue growing, the current downturn in the international economy has increased competition among companies selling licensed process technology and project engineering services, owing to the reduced investment being made in fertilizer plants, oil refining, petrochemicals and other downstream sectors. Market conditions are forcing many engineering contractors and licensed process technology companies to undertake additional cost cutting exercises to improve their competitiveness while R&D investment is being directed into reducing the energy consumption of their licensed process technology or new areas such as clean energy technology.

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Taking the heat off an HT shift converter

Summary

Redesigned internals in an HT shift reactor at Ultrafertil's Araucária plant have lowered pressure drop, increased catalyst life and raised output.

Abstract

The Brazilian company Ultrafertil has the largest urea plant in Brazil, a Stamicarbon CO2 stripping plant, which is located at Araucária in the state of Paraná. The ammonia plant associated with that urea plant generates its synthesis gas by partial oxidation of heavy residue, using Lurgi technology. Since its privatisation in 1993, Ultrafertil has invested significantly in modifications to the ammonia/ urea complex to increase its capacity and to improve its reliability and availability. (One major improvement was the retrofit of the synthesis converter in 1995 by Ammonia Casale SA). These alterations have raised the capacity of the ammonia plant from its original nameplate value of 1,200 t/d (1,323 s.tons/d) to 1,350 t/d (1,488 s.tons/d) and that of the urea plant from 1,500 t/d (1,653 s.tons/d) to 2,000 t/d (2,205 s.tons/d).

In 2001 the company undertook a successful retrofit of the first of the ammonia plant’s two hightemperature (HT) shift reactors during the planned turnaround.

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