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2018 IFS Technical Conference
8 May 2018 - 9 May 2018
2018 IFS Agronomic Conference
6 Dec 2018 - 7 Dec 2018
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2018 IFS Technical Conference

8 May 2018 - 9 May 2018

The next IFS Technical Conference will be hosted by the Crop Research Institute, Prague, Czech Republic.

The Conference will feature twelve papers, covering a variety of topics including a range of innovative developments relating to nitrogenous fertiliser production, forecasts of rock phosphate availability, rapid screening of CRFs, why excellent safety companies still experience catastrophic accidents, a new approach to de-dusting in a CAN plant, and an overview of fertiliser blending technologies.

There will also be ample opportunities for valuable networking, including the Conference dinner.  A tour of the historic centre of Prague will be included in the programme.

Registration for the Conference is now open. To register, you can either download and complete a Registration Form in Word (as usual), and then send this to the Secretary. Or you can complete an online form which will automatically send the data to the Secretary when you click the 'Submit' button at the bottom.   

To help you with your travel plans, the Conference will start at 09.30 on the 8th, and finish at approximately 15.30 on the 9th.

The presentations at this year's Conference are listed below. 

Elio Strepparola, Casale S A, Switzerland

Opportunities created by the innovative revamping of a methanol plant

This paper describes an innovative way of revamping a methanol plant which creates the basis to define the implementation of an integrated fertiliser project. The long and fruitful co-operation between the plant's owner and Casale, together with the availability of all the required technologies by a single licensor made feasible the realisation of this reference project.

Information is provided on a series of revamping projects of the methanol plant, including the latest one, which considers a new POX unit. The excess hydrogen, along with the spare nitrogen from the new ASU, made possible the production of ammonia, then urea and finally melamine.

The paper provides the details of the various methanol revamping projects and the features of the new fertiliser project with relevant technological features.


Branislav Brežný, VUCHT a.s., Slovakia

Construction of a calcium nitrate plant in the Czech Republic

Calcium nitrate, also known as Norwegian saltpeter, is an inorganic salt. Besides many other applications, it is mainly used as a component in mineral fertilisers. For this purpose the double salt 5Ca(NO3)2·NH4NO3·10H  2O is mainly used. However a formulation without ammonia - Ca(NO3)2·4H2O and a complex with urea Ca(NO3)2·4[OC(NH2)2 can also be used.

A process for calcium nitrate fertiliser production was developed by the R&D centre  of VUCHT in Slovakia. The process is based on the treatment of limestone with nitric acid, followed by neutralisation with ammonia. The process was tailored to the specific quality of raw materials, particular product properties and the demands of government authorities. Three quality grades can be produced by the process - Greenhouse Grade, Agriculture Grade and Fertiliser Grade. The process has been used at two production plants within the Agrofert Holding in Czech Republic and in Slovakia.


Paz Munoz, Stamicarbon, Netherlands

Dual pressure nitric acid technology with high energy recovery

Building on its long history in the ANNA industry, Stamicarbon is introducing its dual pressure nitric acid process that is characterised by high energy recovery. Dual pressure single-train capacities range from 600 up to 1600t/day (100% HNO3).

A critical process feature is the relative high tail gas temperature (up to 480°C) that favours the decomposition of N2O in a tertiary abatement reactor and provides higher power generation by the expansion turbine and an extra heat recovery step before releasing the tail gas to atmosphere.  All these advantages are translated into high steam export.


Christian Renk, Thyssenkrupp, Germany

Granulated ammonium sulphate from dilute solutions: a new process

Over a period of four years Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions has developed a new and innovative Ammonium Sulfate (AS) technology by applying fluidized bed granulation. The design followed a systematic scale-up approach. First trials started in laboratory batch scale (~5 kg/hr) followed by technical scale with continuous operation (~20 kg/hr). On this basis a pilot plant was designed, constructed and commissioned together with Domo Caproleuna (~500 kg/hr). This presentation outlines the inventive development approach, special process features and properties of the new product.


Michal Baji, Lovochemie A.S., Czech Republic

Wet electrostatic precipitator (WESP) de-dusting for an CAN plant

Within the fertiliser industry the standard technology for final de-dusting uses scrubbers and filters. In other industries Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP) technology is used, either wet or dry. Wet ESP is particularly used for gas mist SO2 and SO3 elimination. The advantages of ESP technology are low operational costs, high efficiency, low pressure drop and temperature resistance, and low maintenance requirements, relative to scrubbers and filters. Its disadvantages are a relatively high investment cost and a large installation space requirement.

A new CAN/ASN fertiliser plant was approved by the Czech state authorities in 2013, with strict limits on solid particles emissions to a level below 8 mg/Nm3. Scrubber technology cannot achieve such a low limit, so Lovochemie had to decide whether to use filters or ESP. The decision was not straightforward - Lovochemie has had poor operational experiences using filters with CAN (high pressure drop, short lived operational campaigns), while ESP has not been previously been used with AN based fertilisers, which constituted a risk.  The company decided to use Wet ESP technology, which will be the first application of this technology for de-dusting in an AN based fertiliser plant.

This paper describes the factors that influenced this decision, the installation of the equipment, and our operational experiences to date.


Thomas Henry, Prayon Technologies, Belgium

New approaches to improving the quality of phosphoric acid

To face the wide range of raw phosphoric acid qualities produced from phosphate rocks, and the growing needs of high quality end products, users are increasingly interested in the purification of their phosphoric acid. Among all the purification techniques available, four are selected and reviewed: the phosphoric acid purification by ion exchange on selective resins, by solvent extraction, by impurities precipitation induced by potassium addition or the acid neutralisation. The working principles of each of the four processes are detailed and simplified working diagrams are presented. The whys and wherefores of each process are reviewed. The handling of the principal waste streams is discussed.


Aida Idrissi Kaitouni, Argus Media Ltd., United Kingdom

Reassessment of the quality and reserves of phosphate rock 

This paper will present extracts from the recently completed major review of the supply situation for rock phosphate carried out by Argus. It will focus on key trends and developments affecting the phosphate rock market and will provide an outlook for supply for the next 15 years.


Mike McLaughlin, University of Adelaide, Australia

Rapid screening of controlled release fertilisers 

Controlled- or slow-release fertilizers (CRFs/SRFs) are a key part of any strategy to minimise losses of nutrients to surface or groundwaters by runoff and leaching, respectively. Most CRFs/SRFs are developed for controlling supply of nitrogen (N), but there are also products designed for controlling supply of phosphorus (P) and sulphur (S) and some trace elements (e.g. B).  Evaluation of CRF/SRF performance is often time consuming and costly, so that rapid evaluation techniques are needed to screen products and to aid formulation and new product development. A series of published and experimental quick evaluation methods for CRFs/SRFs will be outlined and their ability to predict nutrient losses in runoff compared.


Jan-Petter Fossum, Yara International A S, Norway

A management of change trap: why do companies with strong process safety records still have accidents? 

Even chemical companies that are considered to be excellent at safety management have experienced significant lapses. Serious multi fatality accidents have happened in companies such as BP (2005: Texas City; 1987: Grangemouth), DuPont (2016), BASF (2016). Process safety accidents are far rarer and much less predictable that occupational safety incidents. Furthermore, when they occur the outcome can be more serious than occupational safety events, which in general involve single individuals. 

History has shown that many of the causes of process safety accidents includes inadequate management of change (MOC). Modifications and replacement of equipment, organisational changes, lack of resources and the re-sizing of plant output are primary root causes of many accidents.

This presentation will discuss why accidents are still happening in companies with a strong record in Safety. It will cover examples of Process Safety hazards due to improper Management of Change processes (as regularly demonstrated by the chemical industry), and how only "minor" modifications have sometimes resulted in catastrophic events causing multi-fatalities.  It will discuss how, even though Yara has not faced such catastrophic events, serious accidents have occurred. What went wrong and what did we learn to improve our MOC process?


Peter Scott, Origin Fertilisers (UK) Ltd., United Kingdom

Evaluation of fertiliser blending technologies and progress in ensuring product consistency 

Origin Fertilisers (UK) Ltd now operates many blending plants in the UK and Ireland, using a variety of technologies, makes and types of equipment.  Based on this experience, this paper will examine the various approaches to blending which can be taken, and evaluate the different methods and machinery options available.

 It will report on the thinking and decision making which has been applied to these operations, in the choice of technology, machinery, packaging and process control, including measures to minimise segregation of constituents. Also covered will be progress in ensuring product quality in the production of modern blended fertilisers, and the achievement of high analytical consistency. 


Antoine Hoxha, Fertilizers Europe, Belgium

New EU Fertilizer Regulation: Circular economy and green house gas emissions

This paper will present an overview of recent developments in the fertiliser related regulations, as well as some industry initiatives.

It will mainly focus on the new EU Fertilizer Regulation that is still under political debate and the recently voted EU Emission Trading Scheme for Green House Gases (GHGs) and its impact on the industry. The on-line Carbon Footprint Calculator  developed by the industry will be presented. New GHG emission factors for the production of fertilisers will be published, covering not only the EU, but all world regions, as are key reference numbers in evaluating the environmental impact of fertilisers. 


Mudussa Sharif, Fatima Fertiliser Company Ltd., Pakistan

Optimising the conversion of calcium nitrate within nitrophosphate operations, without the need for capex

The Fatima Group operates three fertiliser sites namely, Pak-Arab Fertiliser (PFL) in Multan, Fatima Fert (FF) in Lahore, and Fatima Fertiliser Limited(FFL) in Sadiqabad. The 1,200 mtpd nitrophosphate plant (based on the ODDA-process) of FFL comprises NP and calcium nitrate (CN) sections.

In the NP plant, nitric acid and rock phosphate are reacted, and the subsequent slurry is cooled to form calcium nitrate tetra-hydrate (CNTH) crystals and phosphoric acid (H3PO4). This slurry is filtered to separate CNTH from H3PO4 and excess nitric acid. CNTH crystals are first neutralised with ammonia and pumped to the CN Section.

In the CN Section, the CNTH solution is reacted with ammonium carbonate (AC), synthesised in a packed bed reactor using ammonia, carbon dioxide and recycled ammonium nitrate (AN). The reaction of CN and AC takes place in an atmospheric  conversion reactor and calcium carbonate and AN are formed, which are separated using a pressure filter. The separated AN is further concentrated and, like the calcium carbonate, exported to a downstream calcium ammonium nitrate plant (CAN).

The capacity of the pressure filter is determined by the hydraulic feed load, while filtration performance is a function of the calcium carbonate grain size. Various factors influence the performance of the pressure filters, among which are the NH3:CO2 ratio in the AC reactor, the amount of AN recycled to this reactor, the calcium carbonate grain size,  and the CN reactor parameters such as the AC:CN (reactants) ratio, the pH value and the free acid remaining in the CNTH.

Filtration performance and capacity were affected both by the hydraulic load and the calcium carbonate grain size, which were identified as major limiting constraints to ramping-up the CN section rate to above the 100% design values. Optimisation of these constraining parameters was carried out, resulting in significant de-bottle-necking of the CN section, without the need for any capital investment.

The Fatima Group was established as early as 1936, to trade in commodities, and gradually entered into the manufacture of various products. The Group has a success story spread over seven decades.  Today, the Group is engaged in the trading of commodities, the manufacturing of fertilisers, textiles, sugar, and in mining and energy operations. Over 10,000 people are associated with Fatima Group. 


 Thanks to the companies who are supporting this Conference:

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