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Urea Production Reduces Greenhouse Gas by Energy Saving and Carbon Dioxide Recovery

YASUHIKO KOJIMA, HARUYUKI MORIKAWA, EIJI SAKATA

Toyo Engineering Corporation


8-1, Akanehama 2-chome, Narashino-shi, Chiba 275-0024, Japan

INTRODUCTION
Urea is industrially produced from liquid ammonia and gaseous carbon dioxide. From this point it can be understood that, among several major nitrogen fertilizer production, only urea production has potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emission by utilizing carbon dioxide as the feedstock; i.e. stoichiometrically one ton urea production requires 0.733 tons of carbon dioxide. In addition, over the past half century, continuous efforts have been made to improve urea production processes, particularly to improve their energy efficiency in the last few decades. The latest urea process consumes half of energy consumed by traditional urea processes developed in 1950s and 1960s. Because of the abovementioned features on urea production, following cases may contribute to GHG emission reductions: (1) Installing new urea plants of latest energy saving process, replacing inefficient plants of equivalent capacities (2) Revamping / retrofitting conventional plants with latest energy saving technology (3) Utilizing carbon dioxide currently emitted to atmosphere as the feedstock for urea; i.e. carbon dioxide in flue gas, off gases from chemical plants, blast furnaces, etc. (4) Switching feedstock of existing ammonia plants from heavy hydrocarbon such as naphtha, heavy oil, etc to light hydrocarbons such as natural gas, methane, etc., supplementing the resulting shortage of carbon dioxide for urea production by the above (3) (5) Combination of the above The above aspects suggest that urea production and its project planning should be re-evaluated as the leverage for GHG emission reductions. This paper foresights potential advantages of urea production for GHG emission reductions.

THE UREA PROCESS


Since its establishment in 1961, Toyo Engineering Corporation (TOYO) has been playing a leading role in urea process development and plant engineering on the global stage. TOYO provides the solutions for urea plants that meet the demands of its clients through the entire lifecycle of their activities, utilizing its technical capabilities and abundant experience and accomplishments as an engineering contractor. Using its own expertise, advanced technology and new thinking, TOYO has established the ACES21, which achieves significant energy saving and plant cost reduction from previous modern urea processes, without sidelining reliability, ductility, operability and maintainability. A major
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feature of this technology is that it reduces the number of components in the urea synthesis loop to simplify the system. This lessens construction costs with the installation of the reactor on the ground in the CO2 stripping process, and resultantly existing urea reactor can be re-utilized for conventional solution recycle process or ammonia stripping process. In addition, the operation conditions of the synthesis section have been optimized under lower operation pressure than in the previous process. As a result, a remarkable reduction in energy consumption has been achieved. ACES21 has been applied in five urea plants since its first application in 2002 in modernizing a 1,620 MTPD conventional urea plant to increase production capacity to 2,460 MTPD with the reduction of energy consumption by 30%. The rest four plants are based on grass roots or complete new construction. Table I shows some details of the five urea plants. The ACES21 urea plants is shown in Photo-1. Fig. 1 shows ACES21 synthesis loop.

PHOTO-1 THE ACES21 UREA PLANT

TO MP ABSOPTION FROM CARB. PUMP CONDENSER (VSCC) VSCC)

STRIPPER REACTOR BFW LP STEAM EJECTOR FROM NH3-PUMP FROM CO2-COMP TO MP DECOMPOSITION MP STEAM

COND

FIGURE. 1:

ACES21 SYNTHESIS SECTION

Table I List of Urea Plants based on Toyo ACES21 Urea Process


Owner PT Pupuk Kujang Sichuan Chemical Works (Group) Ltd. Methanol Holding (Trinidad) Limited National Petrochemical Company Petroquimica de Venezuela S.A. Location Cikampek, Indonesia Chengdu, China Point Lisas, Trinidad and Tobago Shiraz, Iran Moron, Venezuela Capacity (MT/D) 1,725 2,460 2,100 3,250 2,200 On-stream 2006 2004 (2009) (2010) (2010)

Table II summarizes utilities consumption for the following four cases: (1) all rotating machines are driven by electric motor, LP steam is exported; (2) all rotating machines are driven by electric motor, steam system is self-balanced (no export); (3) CO2 compressor is driven by 42 barG steam turbine; (4) CO2 compressor is driven by 110 barG steam turbine. ACES21 is quite flexible for various utility environments. CO2 compressor is usually driven by steam turbine in middle to large scale. It is sometimes required to be driven by electric motor depending on availability and cost of steam (water) vs. electricity. In case CO2 compressor is driven by electric motor, ACES21 enables the urea plant be operated without exporting low pressure steam. High CO2 conversion in urea synthesis reactor, moderate stripping in HP stripper by adjusting steam pressure and efficient integration with 16.5 barG stage into the process minimize middle pressure (lower than 20 barG) steam consumption in HP stripper without sacrificing overall process efficiency. Table II Typical Consumption Figures of ACES21 Urea Plant Unit Steam Import 22 bar x 300 C 42 bar x 380 C 110 bar x 510 C Steam Export 5 bar, Saturated Cooling Water (T=10C) Electricity Urea Process Granulation ton ton ton ton m3 kWh kWh Electric Motor Driven Steam Export 0.67 Self Balance 0.58 0.80 0.69 0.24 52 105 24 52 105 24 81 21 24 75 21 24 Steam Turbine Driven 42 bar Steam 110 bar Steam

Notes: 1) unit: per metric ton of final granular urea product 2) including CO2 compression

2008 TOYO ENGINEERING CORP.

CASE STUDY ON GHG EMISSION REDUCTION BY UREA PRODUCTION


Nowadays, global warming is one of the great concerns in the world. Considering the serious consequential effects to the nature and ecological system on the earth by the global warming in the future, industrial sectors in the world are implementing various actions to suppress global warming by reducing GHG emissions. The fertilizer industry is also no exception regarding this issue. The following case studies indicate urea production with low energy urea process and from CO2 captured from combustion flue gases reduces GHG emissions effectively. Although there are some discussions that application of nitrogenous fertilizer to the soil is the significant source of nitrous oxide emission (N2O) which is also considered one of the contributors to global warming, it is not only specific for urea but all other nitrogenous fertilizers including bio-derived ones, therefore this paper does not deal with such discussion.

Case 1: Installing a New Urea Plant


Urea is industrially produced from liquid ammonia and gaseous carbon dioxide. From this point it can be understood that, among several major nitrogen fertilizer production, only urea production has potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emission by utilizing carbon dioxide as the feedstock; i.e. stoichiometrically one ton urea production requires 0.733 tons of carbon dioxide. For example, a urea plant producing 3,250 MT/D urea consumes 829,730 MT-CO2/Y on the basis of 0.74 MT-CO2/MT-urea (typical CO2 consumption) and 345 on stream days per year. On the other hand, urea production consumes certain energy as the form of steam and electric power. Table III summarizes energy consumption and relevant CO2 emissions estimated from crude oil equivalent to the energy consumed, in comparison between typical previous modern processes and ACES21 combined with TOYO granulation process. As shown in Table III, CO2 emitted to generate energy for urea production is much fewer than CO2 consumed as feedstock for urea production. Therefore it can be understood that urea production based on modern energy efficient urea process has significant potential to reduce CO2 emission in net. Urea production using ACES21 combined with TOYO granulation process further reduces CO2 emission by approximately 72,850 MT/Y. The results also indicate that ammonia plants without urea plant could potentially reduce CO2 emission by 0.482 MT-CO2/MT-Urea by installing urea plants. Also, supposing 20% improvement in energy consumption in urea production is equivalent to 0.065 MTCO2/MT-Urea and 120 million tons of annual demand for urea, it has potential to reduce global CO2 mission by 7.8 million tons per year.

Table III Comparison of Energy Consumption and CO2 Emission in Urea Plant (New Plant Case) Modern Process Capacity (MT/D) Urea Production (MT/Y) [ D ] Steam (MT/MT) (42 Bar, 380 C) Electric Power (kWh/MT) Cooling Water (m3/MT) ( t = 10C) CO2 Consumption (MT/Y) [ A ] Energy Consumption in Boiler and Power Plant for Urea Production (4)
(5)

ACES21 3,250 1,121,250 0.8 46 81 829,725

3,250 1,121,250 1.0 58 100 829,725

Gcal/MT 1.045 Gcal/Y 1,171,710 Crude Oil Equivalent (MT/Y) 117,170 (10,000 kcal/kg) Equivalent CO2 Emission based on 362,520 Crude Oil (MT/Y) [ B ] (2) Specific CO2 Emission 0.323 (MT-CO2/MT-Urea) [ B / D ] Potential Maximum CO2 Emission 467,205 Reduction (MT/Y) [ C = A B ] Difference in CO2 Emission Base Reduction (MT/Y) Potential Maximum Specific CO2 0.417 Emission Reduction (MTCO2/MT-Urea) [ C / D ] Notes (1) 345 running days per year (2) CO2 emission rate 3.094 MT-CO2/MT-Crude Oil is assumed. (3) CO2 consumption 0.74 MT-CO2/MT-Urea is assumed. (4) Boiler thermal efficiency = 85% (5) Conversion factor in power generation = 2,646 kcal/kWh

0.835 936,240 93,624 289,670 0.258 540,055 72,850 0.482

Case 2: Revamping Conventional Plant by ACES21


The ACES21 Process is also fit for revamping conventional solution recycle process plant in an efficient way. For example, TOYOs Total Recycle C-Improved (TR-CI) Process plant can be revamped to have 150 % capacity of original nameplate together with 30 40 % saving in specific energy consumption, utilizing full volume of the existing urea reactor installed on the ground level. Sichuan Chemical Works (SCW) realized energy saving by employing ACES21 Process in place of the TR-CI process in the urea plant. The revamp project was successfully completed in 2004. The typical calculation result of energy saving effect and CO2 gas emission on SCW plant is
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summarized as an example of the revamping project by ACES21 in Table IV. As shown in Table IV, urea production has increased by 50% with CO2 emission increase by only 9 %. In other words, specific CO2 emission has become reduced by 0.111 MTCO2/MT-Urea from 0.393 MT- CO2/MT-Urea to 0.282 MT-CO2/MT-Urea, therefore 50% capacity increase by incorporating state-of-the art energy efficient urea process could have reduced CO2 emission by 94,200 MT/Y (848,700 x 0.111) in comparison with the case that the capacity increase were done without energy saving.

Table IV CO2 Emission Comparison in Revamp Case


Before Revamp Capacity (MT/D) Urea Production (MT/Y) CO2 Consumption (MT/Y) Energy Consumption in Boiler and Power Plant for Urea Production (4)
(5)

After Revamp 2,460 848,700 628,038

1,620 558,900 413,586

Gcal/MT Gcal/Y Crude Oil Equivalent (MT/Y) (10,000 kcal/kg) Equivalent CO2 Emission based on Crude Oil (MT/Y) (2) Specific CO2 Emission (MT-CO2/MT-Urea)

1.269 709,244 70,924 219,439 0.393

0.913 774,863 77,486 239,741 0.282

Notes (1) 345 running days per year (2) CO2 emission rate 3.094 MT-CO2/MT-Crude Oil is assumed. (3) CO2 consumption 0.74 MT-CO2/MT-Urea is assumed. (4) Boiler thermal efficiency = 85% (5) Conversion factor in power generation = 2,646 kcal/kWh

Case 3: Revamping Conventional Plant by ACES21 with Flue Gas CO2 Capture
It is commonly known that ammonia production from natural gas may produce insufficient CO2 to feed urea plant producing urea from all the ammonia produced in ammonia plant. Actually TOYO has engineered some ammonia and urea complexes where CO2 for urea feedstock is supplemented by capturing CO2 from combustion flue gas in its 40 years of experiences. CO2 capture from flue gas to produce urea has been a very old story and has never been highlighted before global warming has become an urgent issue. In this reason, number of ammonia and urea complexes of recent date based on natural gas therefore has been designed to export part of ammonia produced without being converted to urea. Now we all know that such ammonia-urea complexes exporting ammonia have potential to produce additional urea by capturing CO2 from flue

gas of reformer, boilers or furnaces. On the other hand, however, continuous efforts have been made by farsighted licensors to improve flue gas CO2 capture technology in the aspects of energy saving and solvent stability. Energy requirement for flue gas CO2 capture is reaching 0.7 to 0.9 Gcal/MT-CO2 in recent date. Preliminary calculations have been made for the case CO2 is captured from flue gas to be supplied to urea plant to increase its capacity. The specific energy consumption for CO2 capture is assumed 0.8 Gcal/MT-CO2. Table V summarizes the results in case 16% of CO2 (100,000 MT/Y) is supplied by CO2 capture and other conditions are maintained same as Case 2. As shown in Table V, CO2 supply by flue gas CO2 capture to supplement the feed (only 16% of total CO2 consumption) to urea production in combination with energy efficient ACES21 technology will drastically reduce CO2 emission, to half of before revamp. Table V CO2 Emission Comparison in Revamp Case with Flue Gas CO2 Capture Before Revamp Capacity (MT/D) Urea Production (MT/Y) [ E ] CO2 Consumption (MT/Y) CO2 from Flue Gas (MT/Y) [ A ] Energy Consumption in Boiler and Power Plant for Urea Production (5) (6) (Gcal/MT) (Gcal/Y) [ C ] Energy Consumption in Boiler and Power Plant for CO2 Capture from Flue Gas (Gcal/Y) [ D ] (4) (5) (6) Total Energy Consumption (Gcal/Y) [C+D] Crude Oil Equivalent (MT/Y) (10,000 kcal/kg) Equivalent CO2 Emission based on Crude Oil (MT/Y) [ B ] (2) Net CO2 Emission (MT/Y) [ F = B A ] Specific CO2 Emission (MT-CO2/MT-Urea) [ F / E ] 1,620 558,900 413,586 none After Revamp 2,460 848,700 628,038 100,000

1.269 709,244 none

0.913 774,863 94,118

709,244 70,924 219,439 219,439 0.393

868,981 86,898 268,862 168,862 0.199

Notes (1) 345 running days per year (2) CO2 emission rate: 3.094 MT-CO2/MT-Crude Oil (3) CO2 consumption: 0.74 MT-CO2/MT-Urea (4) Net energy consumption for CO2 capture: 0.8 Gcal/MT-CO2 (5) Boiler thermal efficiency = 85% (6) Conversion factor in power generation = 2,646 kcal/kWh

2008 TOYO ENGINEERING CORP.

CONCLUSION
Steep increase in natural gas demand as the result of excessive high oil price and rapid growth in global economy particularly in so called BRICs countries is enlightening us that state-of-the-art energy efficient technology should be proactively introduced in fertilizer production sector. The ACES21 can be one of the powerful solutions in grass roots, capacity expansion, energy saving and scrap-and-build projects. CO2 capture to supplement urea production is also promising. TOYO views combined approach introducing energy saving technology and CO2 capture drastically reduces CO2 emission in urea production. TOYO continues contributing to sustainable growth of global economy, natural resource conservation and GHG emission reductions through R&D and engineering in urea production process

REFERENCES
1. 2. Y. Kojima, T. Yanagawa, ACES21 demonstrated in a world scale urea plant in China, Nitrogen 2005, Bucharest, Romania Y. Kojima, K. Yoshimoto, Recent Achievements and Advances in Urea Technology, Nitrogen + Syngas 2007 Conference, 25-28 February, Bahrain

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