Safety in fertilizer production

Healthy growth

Fertilizers play a major part in agriculture in terms of helping supply the constantly growing global population with foodstuffs. To remain successful in the fertilizer market, you need maximum process safety and energy efficiency. Over the lengthy service life of your system, you benefit from reduced costs of plant and project management, and a lower Total Cost of Ownership. And as your partner in fertilizer production, we make these goals our own.

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Fertilizer production is one of the most energy-intensive processes anywhere. At the same time, however, many fertilizer plants have been running for decades. They have to be constantly upgraded to satisfy growing demands for energy efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions. For automation, electrification, or digitalization projects, we are a partner with international experience that can bring your fertilizer plants up to the state of the art. Together with our global service team, this forms the basis for making your plant more efficient and profitable, both now and in the future.
Process optimization and energy management in the fertilizer industry

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Plant operation

Process information ensures quality and efficiency

The ammonia production process passes through a number of stages, from desulfurization and the primary reformer to the synthesis reactor. The composition of the material flow must therefore always be closely inspected. Any fluctuations would impact on all subsequent stages, and so the consequences for process quality and efficiency would be serious. Exhaust gases from the primary reformer and purge gases from the synthesis stage, and the quality of the natural gas used must also be precisely monitored.
Synthesis

Ammonia synthesis

Ammonia is an important chemical ingredient in the production of fertilizers. High pressures in the range of 250-350 bar and temperatures of around 400-500°C are needed to synthesize it from atmospheric nitrogen and hydrogen. The natural gas needed for synthesis accounts for the bulk of the production costs. The individual reaction processes therefore require continuous process monitoring and reliable process gas analyses. To help you run your fertilizer plant safely and efficiently, we offer solutions for pressurizing, process control, maintenance, and system documentation.

Condition Monitoring

Measurement and analytical equipment is part and parcel of any fertilizer plant. To make efficient use of power and, if possible, achieve savings in this area, precise monitoring in the form of continuous and reliable process gas analyses is required. Measurement and analytical devices with extensive diagnostic functions also satisfy essential preconditions for condition monitoring.

Asset Performance Management

Systematic monitoring can prolong the lifetime of plant components, improve process safety, and thus greatly increase plant availability. In this way, Asset Performance Management makes an important contribution toward ensuring your systems run smoothly. Our solutions help you throughout the entire plant lifecycle – for efficient planning and engineering, in-operation optimization, and for integrated maintenance in particular. You can use package units as an integral part of the process control system to monitor and analyze mechanical assets like pumps, valves, and heat exchangers.

Energy management

Natural gas is an important raw material for ammonia synthesis, and transparency of energy consumption, including steam and electricity, plays a key part in its efficiency. The use of compressors offering a high level of stability, flexible design, and a high efficiency rating is very important in terms of the economic efficiency of the fertilizer plant as a whole.

Meaningful comparisons can be drawn and targeted measures put in place to improve efficiency only when accurate values for consumption and performance covering an extended period are available. This is why all plant components require continuous monitoring, analysis, and maintenance.

Measurement and analytical equipment for Condition Monitoring

Our solutions include continuous (extractive and in-situ) gas analyzers, process gas chromatographs, and systems for taking and preparing samples. One example of a powerful analytical system is the SIPROCESS GA700 for continuous process gas analysis. Its modular design, with three types of casing and a standardized operating system, makes the measurement process easier than ever before.

Portfolio for Asset Performance Management

Digitalization makes it possible to optimize processes throughout their entire lifecycle. This is where the COMOS/COMOS MRO software solution for Plant Lifecycle Management comes into play. This solution rigorously integrates all process sequences, in all the engineering and the operating and maintenance stages. 

The SIMIT simulation software also provides valuable help in putting a system into operation quickly, and as an operator training system (OTS) in the early training of plant operators and maintenance employees.

The SIMATIS PCS 7 process control system helps operators ensure the entire fertilizer plant operates smoothly. This includes elements like control functions for process optimization, including Advanced Process Control (APC).

The XHQ operations intelligence platform provides a wealth of process information (KPI) from various systems, like power consumption and maintenance schedules for key assets, in a connected presentation. This is the basis for continuous optimization.

Energy management portfolio

Draw from a broad portfolio for energy management at your fertilizer plant:  

STC-SH single-shaft centrifugal compressors are ideal for many processes and gases, for medium pressures and high flow volumes. We can also offer the STC-SH with a flying impeller – as an economical alternative to applications with comparatively high volume flows and steam turbine drives. It complies with standard API 617 of the American Petroleum Institute.

SIMATIC powerrate for the SIMATIC PCS 7 process control system is a winner at a plant level. The software records all energy-relevant consumption data from the plant, assigns it to the various consumers, displays it in an easy-to-follow manner, and saves the data in the archive. This lets you trace hidden savings potentials reliably, so you can achieve a targeted improvement in energy consumption.   

SIMATIC Energy Manager PRO supports your efforts to analyze the efficiency of your machinery, systems and plants and conduct company-wide energy efficiency controlling and cost center accounting, as well as to optimize energy procurement.  For fertilizer production, it is essential to use compressors with a high efficiency rating. All our drive systems can be integrated into the automation technology using PROFIBUS and PROFINET, which facilitates both smart motor management and future-proof energy management. In addition to maximum energy efficiency, a reliable supply of electricity to the processes is one of the key requirements in fertilizer production. We provide turnkey switchgear for the medium and low-voltage ranges, and assist you with a broad range of services.

Ammonia

Ammonia

Ammonia is an intermediate product for nitrogen-based fertilizers, in the same way as phosphate for phosphate fertilizers.

Reformers and heat exchangers are the best technology available in ammonia synthesis plants. The challenge lies in observing NOx emission limits and the regular energy audits. 

In addition to process engineering, a gas turbine to save fuel, CO2 removal and a state-of-the-art process control system are the key factors in increasing both the capacity and the energy efficiency of the fertilizer plant. For optimized process conditions, it is also essential to have the right measurement technology and analytical equipment, e.g. to continuously monitor flue, purge, and relief gases.

Process monitoring and optimization

In addition to the process control system and the software tools, measurement and analytical equipment is needed to monitor and optimize the process. This provides the data needed from different reaction processes, particularly on energy consumption and ensuring product quality, both important objectives of measures to improve efficiency.

Compression

Ammonia production requires large volumes of oxygen and nitrogen, which are obtained from air separation plants. Compressors suck in the filtered air and compress it to the required pressure. The air is then cooled and separated into its principal components. The key factors in the separation process are energy consumption, product quality, reliability and productivity. 

Meaningful comparisons can be drawn and targeted measures put in place to improve efficiency only when accurate values for consumption and performance covering an extended period are available. This is why all plant components require continuous monitoring, analysis, and maintenance.

Taken in combination with our steam turbines and other means of heat recovery from the process, the result is an efficient energy circuit for the entire plant.

Steam generation

Steam generation is another important stage in the process. Heating the water requires energy-efficient solutions and accurate temperature measurements. In a steam generator, pressure, temperature and volume of the steam that is produced are coordinated with the unit that consumes the steam, e.g. a turbine. Compressors, turbines, and measurement and analytical equipment play an important part here, reliably supplying extremely accurate measurement data and thus ensuring the processes are transparent. Reliable monitoring and control of all process parameters also creates the conditions for maximum availability and reduced maintenance cost, which are critical levers for improving productivity and efficiency.

Process monitoring portfolio

The sophisticated control functions in the SIMATIC APC library are standard series elements in the SIMATIC PCS 7 process control system. They are used in areas such as quality control or optimizing energy consumption. Our analytical equipment solutions include continuous (extractive and in-situ) gas analyzers, process gas chromatographs, and systems for taking and preparing samples. One example of a powerful analytical system is the SIPROCESS GA700 for continuous process gas analysis. 

Fertilizer production requires sturdy and reliable flow meters. One solution involves Coriolis flow meters like the SITRANS F C MASS 2100, which record both mass flow and the respective fractions of the substance.

Of the other types of measuring device (SITRANS), particular use is made of temperature controllers to regulate pre-heaters, heat recovery boilers, condensers, etc., as well as devices to monitor fill levels and safe storage in the NH3 tanks.

Compression portfolio

Draw from a broad portfolio for energy management at your fertilizer plant: thanks to their flexible and sturdy design, the STC-SH single-shaft centrifugal compressors are ideal for many processes and gases such as nitrogen, for example. As air converters, they are ideal for medium pressures and high flow volumes. We can also offer the STC-SH with a flying impeller – as an economical alternative to applications with comparatively high volume flows and steam turbine drives. This centrifugal compressor complies with standard API 617 of the American Petroleum Institute.

SIMATIC Energy Manager PRO supports your efforts to analyze the efficiency of your machinery, systems and plants and conduct company-wide energy efficiency controlling and cost center accounting, as well as to optimize energy procurement.  All our drive systems can be integrated into the automation technology using PROFIBUS and PROFINET, which facilitates both smart motor management and future-proof energy management. In addition to maximum energy efficiency, a reliable supply of electricity to the processes is one of the key requirements in fertilizer production. We provide turnkey switchgear for the medium and low-voltage ranges, and assist you with a broad range of services.

Turbines for steam generation

Our steam turbines are used either as a generator drive or as a mechanical drive for pumps and compressors. The modular design used for all steam turbine types ensures a high level of flexibility and availability, and short delivery times.

Urea

Urea synthesis

Urea is one of the most commonly produced chemicals. To turn ammonia in urea, however, needs a lot of energy, which can be optimized through process engineering, or the use of heat exchangers or compressors. Efficient energy management is therefore critical. Having the right measures in place can reduce environmental impacts caused by unclean process water during urea granulation. Precise monitoring and analysis of process parameters using measuring devices, software, and process control systems thus forms the basis for transparency, optimization, and benchmarking.

Process safety

Observance of IEC 61511 is paramount during fertilizer production: this standard requires proof of safety along the entire safety chain from the sensor to the controller and actuator (the safety loop). This looks not only at the individual products but at the entire system. We are there to help you throughout the entire lifecycle of your safety system with a comprehensive range of products, systems and services. In the areas of engineering and consulting, we also offer services for all stages in the lifecycle of a safety system, e.g. risk analyses, HAZOP studies, training, documentation, and 24/7 service.

Energy management

Transparency of energy consumption is vital in ensuring efficiency in urea synthesis. Meaningful comparisons can be drawn and targeted measures put in place to improve efficiency only when accurate values for consumption and performance covering an extended period are available. This is why all plant components require continuous monitoring, analysis, and maintenance. The use of compressors offering a high level of stability, flexible design, and a high efficiency rating is very important in terms of the economic efficiency of the fertilizer plant as a whole.

We help you optimize your energy use and consumption during granulation, drying, or cooling, and are there to support you as you work toward achieving maximum efficiency.

Process optimization

One way of improving the economic efficiency of your plant is process optimization using Advanced Process Control. Use the integrated module for predictive multivariable control to implement control concepts that can help increase plant yield.

In addition to the process control system, measurement and analytical equipment is needed to monitor and optimize the process. This provides the data needed from different reaction processes, particularly on energy consumption and ensuring product quality, both important objectives of measures to improve efficiency.

Process safety portfolio

The probability of a safety incident and its repercussions can be substantially reduced by applying appropriate protective measures like a Safety Instrumented System (SIS). Safety Integrated is an integrated safety system in which safety functions can be added to standard components of automation and drive systems.  This includes a complete, end-to-end safety system comprising a controller, engineering with the “Safety Matrix” safety lifecycle tool, and safe process instruments. The ability to integrate the SIS into our SIMATIC PCS 7 process control system is unique. Safety sensors can be connected using the PROFIBUS PA fieldbus or the Foundation Fieldbus.

Regular function tests of the emergency shut-off valves can be performed using the Partial Stroke Test with the SIPART PS2 positioner. This can be used to test the movement of the valve by partially opening and closing it during live operation.

All of these actions are not only relevant from a safety perspective but also contribute substantially to the performance of the plant as a whole.

Energy management portfolio

Draw from a broad portfolio for energy management at your fertilizer plant:  

STC-SH single-shaft centrifugal compressors are ideal for many processes and gases, for medium pressures and high flow volumes. We can also offer the STC-SH with a flying impeller – as an economical alternative to applications with comparatively high volume flows and steam turbine drives. It complies with standard API 617 of the American Petroleum Institute.

SIMATIC powerrate for the SIMATIC PCS 7 process control system is a winner at a plant level. The software records all energy-relevant consumption data from the plant, assigns it to the various consumers, displays it in an easy-to-follow manner, and saves the data in the archive. This lets you trace hidden savings potentials reliably, so you can achieve a targeted improvement in energy consumption.   

SIMATIC Energy Manager PRO supports your efforts to analyze the efficiency of your machinery, systems and plants and conduct company-wide energy efficiency controlling and cost center accounting, as well as to optimize energy procurement.  For fertilizer production is essential to use compressors with a high efficiency rating. The stability of the compressors used in ammonia production is extremely important for achieving high productivity. All our drive systems can be integrated into the automation technology using PROFIBUS and PROFINET, which facilitates both smart motor management and future-proof energy management. In addition to maximum energy efficiency, a reliable supply of electricity to the processes is one of the key requirements in fertilizer production. We provide turnkey switchgear for the medium and low-voltage ranges, and assist you with a broad range of services.

Process optimization portfolio

The sophisticated control functions in the SIMATIC APC library are standard series elements in the SIMATIC PCS 7 process control system. They are used in areas such as quality control or optimizing energy consumption. Other benefits of MPC regulation lie in standardized process management, with less need for manual input.

Measurement and analysis equipment is part and parcel of any fertilizer plant. Our solutions include continuous (extractive and in-situ) gas analyzers, process gas chromatographs, and systems for taking and preparing samples.

Urea synthesis requires sturdy and reliable flow meters. One solution involves Coriolis flow meters like the SITRANS F C MASS 2100, which record both mass flow and the respective fractions of the substance.

Of the other types of measuring device (SITRANS), particular use is made of temperature controllers to regulate granulators, driers, condensers, etc., as well as devices to monitor fill levels and safe storage in the urea silos.

References

Examples of successful projects

Whether our job involves equipping a plant for fertilizer production with low or medium voltage or developing storage technologies for environmentally friendly production, we’re there to help take projects into a successful future all around the world.
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Increasing the energy efficiency in a fertilizer plant with a gas turbine

Presentation at Nitrogen + Syngas 2018: Mats Hagman and Wilfried Kleiser discuss how energy efficiency in a fertilizer plant with a gas turbine can be increased. Discover the products and services Siemens uses to support the production of ammonia and urea.

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Fertilizer plant operation must satisfy the most stringent requirements. Our solid expertise means we can ensure the processes in your plants are high-quality, safe and flexible, as well as being both resource and cost-efficient. 

Our experts answer your questions

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