April 2006

Special Report: Petrochemical Developments

Ammonia industry – today and tomorrow

Innovations in technology and best practices facilitate economic survival for global operating companies

Nair, M. P. Sukumaran, Special Secretary to Government of Kerala, and Chairman, Chemical Engineering Division Board of the Institution of Engineers

The ammonia industry provides nitrogenous fertilizers from hydrocarbon-based feedstocks. The first ammonia process was developed 90 years ago. Over time, technology and new equipment have improved operating costs and enabled building large plants. Yet, most ammonia facilities use natural gas (NG) as a feedstock. Likewise, the ammonia process is an energy-intensive operation. Higher energy and feedstock costs have adversely impacted the profitability of older, smaller operating facilities. Demand for ammonia and fertilizers by developing countries increases annually. However, higher operating costs devastate the profitability of ammonia plants. Technology can be a solution to this industry.

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