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Covering Maintenance Solutions for the Industry

Sulfuric Acid T

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Spring/Summer 2014

s r a e Y 2014 1994-

IN THIS ISSUE > > > >

Sulfuric Acid Today revisits 20 years of cover stories Page 11

Global sulfuric acid market – a twenty year retrospective Page 22 Reviving Ravensthorpe: FQM revitalizes Australian nickel mine Page 30

Address Service Requested Keystone Publishing P.O. Box 3502 Covington, LA 70434

PRST STD U.S. PSTG PAID GPI


Sulfuric Acid T

Vol. 20 No. 1

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Spring/Summer 2014

FROM THE PUBLISHER ON THE COVER 6 Sulfuric Acid Today celebrates 20th anniversary with a look at how industry has evolved since 1994. DEPARTMENTS 4 In Memory of... Bob Borges and Lou Doerr 4 Industry Insights News items about the sulfuric acid and related industries 26 Lessons Learned Case histories from the sulfuric acid industry 54 Calendar of Events Upcoming industry events 54 Faces & Places Covering sulfuric acid industry events

Dear Friends,

“NORAM—The best of the past 20 years” (page 40).

Acid Today magazine. Where does the time go? It seems

Acid Today advertisers, including Acid Piping Technology

Welcome to the 20th Anniversary issue of Sulfuric like just yesterday we began compiling the first issue of

Sulfuric Acid Today. I would like to thank all of those companies and individuals who were with us from the beginning

and believed in the vision of producing a sulfuric acid industry

magazine that would focus on the latest products and technology to improve the maintenance and operations of acid plants. What began in 1994 as a black and white newsprint tabloid of just 16 pages has grown into a full-color glossy magazine

that today reaches sulfuric acid professionals globally. I’m

extremely proud and grateful to be part of an industry that

is willing and open to the exchange of information. I’m looking forward to another two decades of publishing

Sulfuric Acid Today magazine as well as sponsoring

sulfuric acid roundtables and workshops in the U.S.

EDITOR April Kabbash ASSISTANT EDITOR April Smith DESIGN & LAYOUT

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 3502 Covington, LA 70434 Phone: (985) 893-8692 Fax: (985) 893-8693 E-Mail: kathy@h2so4today.com www.h2so4today.com SUBSCRIPTIONS U.S. Plant Personnel —‑Complimentary U.S. Subscription —‑ $39 per year (2 issues) Internat’l Subscription —‑$59 per year (2 issues) Subscribe Online: www.h2so4today.com

Inc., Beltran Technologies, Central Maintenance & Welding, Chemetics Inc., Corrosion Services, El Dorado Metals Inc., FLEXIM, Haldor Topsøe A/S, Kimre, Koch Knight LLC,

MECS Inc., Lac-Mac, Mercad Equipment Inc., NORAM Engineering & Constructors, Outotec, Pelseal Technologies

LLC, Sauereisen, Southwest Refractory of Texas, Spraying

Systems Co., SNC-Lavalin, Southern Environmental Inc., The Roberts Company, Tenova Minerals, VIP International and Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps.

As this issue goes to press, we are finalizing the last

details of the 2014 Australasia Sulfruic Acid Workshop,

which will take place March 24-27, 2014, in Adelaide, South Australia. We will be hearing some excellent presentations

from our Co-Sponsors as well as delving into some perti-

nent plant discussion topics. I’m looking forward to another

and informative.

In this issue, you will find several articles that

take a look back over the last 20 years. Be sure to read such articles as “Sulfuric acid industry evolves

over 20 years” (page 6), “Sulfuric Acid Today revisits 20 years of cover stories” (page 11), “Twenty years

of safety” (page 21), “Global sulfuric acid market–a Company highlights accomplishments” (page 34), and

PUBLISHER Kathy Hayward

I would like to thank our new and returning Sulfuric

and Australia. I hope you find this issue both helpful

twenty year retrospective” (page 22), “The Roberts

PUBLISHED BY Keystone Publishing L.L.C.

successful meeting.

We are currently compiling information for our Fall/Win-

ter 2014 issue. If you have any suggestions for articles or other

information you would like included, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at kathy@h2so4today.com

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Kathy Hayward

FEATURES &  GUEST COLUMNS 6 Sulfuric acid industry evolves over 20 years Sulfuric Acid Today revisits 20 years of cover stories 11 21 Twenty years of safety 22 Global sulfuric acid market—a twenty year retrospective 24 Advancements in sulfur spraying: new hybrid gun and predictive modeling 30 Reviving Ravensthorpe: FQM revitalizes Australian nickel mine 32 Understanding vibration in vertical chemical pumps 34 The Roberts Company highlights accomplishments 36 Restoration technology for polymer concrete 38 Innovative wet electrostatic precipitator design for acid mist removal 40 NORAM—The best of the past 20 years 42 Saving time and money with form-in-place gasket material 46 Structural Preservation Systems uses liquid fluoroelastomer in resealing procedure on sulfur pit 46 Maintain acid purity and control corrosion with anodic protection 48 Kimre™ mist eliminators for sulfuric acid production 50 Combining safety and comfort with GORE fabric 52 HRS in a brownfield plant

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De ep pa ar t m e D en ntt

In memory of ...

Remembering Lou Doerr

The sulfuric acid industry is mourning the Lou stayed on as the Vice President of Sales until loss of Louis John Doerr, Jr., who passed away his retirement in 1995. at age 90 on December 28, 2013. A native of As much as Lou was instrumental in Saint Louis, Mo., Lou began his education at making Lewis® Pumps a well-respected name Washington University before active duty in and sought-after brand throughout the world, World War II came calling. Lou left school at the his reach was felt far beyond the walls of the start of the war to join the Navy. He flew rescue company. Lou was an avid supporter of the missions in the Pacific, picking up British Sulfur Conference and was a downed U.S. airmen at sea. After member of the British Sulfur Board the war ended, Lou returned to of Directors. He also teamed with his home in Saint Louis and his others in the industry to establish studies at Washington University, the Sulfuric Acid Roundtable as a graduating with a degree in way for participants to exchange Mechanical Engineering. ideas and spur industry growth. Lou spent time as a salesman Lou was considered an expert in for Aero Tool before finding his the industry and his contributions Lou Doerr 1923-2013 way to Chas. S. Lewis & Co. in will indeed be missed. 1969. Lou and three other investors In his personal life, Lou and his wife purchased the company from Jim Lewis, son Rosemary had recently celebrated their 63rd of the company’s founder, Charles Lewis. wedding anniversary. Their five children, As Chairman of the Board, Lou focused on numerous grandchildren, and one greatchanging the company from a local success to grandchild helped complete the Doerr family– an international sensation. At the start of Lou’s Lou’s lasting legacy. Always active in the tenure, Lewis® Pumps products were sold in community, Lou was an avid fan of local sports the United States and Canada. Thanks to Lou’s teams as well as a skilled golfer and tennis player. persistence and his many contacts throughout ® He actively supported St. Louis FIRST Robotics, the industry, within eight years Lewis Pumps an organization aimed at inspiring high school products were sold in more than 90 countries students to be technology leaders with future around the world. Building on that success, Weir careers in engineering and science. Lou’s Minerals Lewis Pumps today has products in presence within his family, his community, and use in more than 120 countries. Though Lou and his investor partners sold the company in 1977, the sulfuric acid industry will be greatly missed.

In Memory of Bob Borges

while also raising pump quality for customers. The Lewis Pumps family and the sulfuric Bob also helped move the company in new acid industry have been deeply saddened by directions, such as initiating the company’s first the sudden passing of Robert “Bob” Borges molten salt pump and opening the door to the on January 5, 2014 at the age of 62. Bob’s company’s first sulfur recovery units. genuine nature and kind heart will be missed Bob was highly respected both at Lewis by his friends throughout the industry as well Pumps and throughout the industry. Coworkers as by his beloved wife, Kathy, and their two remember Bob as a good friend daughters, Liz and Margie. who would always stand behind Raised in Milwaukee, Wis., his workers and stand up for Bob graduated as a metallurgist what was right. He was loyal and from Michigan Technical Institute. supportive with an ever-present He began his career with the eye on moving the company and Falk Corporation in Milwaukee, the whole industry forward. Bob working on some of the largest gear enjoyed the opportunity to share reduction systems in the world. his expertise with others, and Bob later worked for American Bob Borges 1951-2014 throughout the years, he helped Magotteaux in Nashville, Tenn., many companies solve complex handling technical sales and problems and improve their systems. engineering troubleshooting. Retiring from Weir Minerals Lewis In March of 1985, Bob made the move to Pumps in 2009, Bob continued to work in the Chas. S. Lewis & Co., Inc. in Saint Louis, Mo. industry as a consultant. Outside of work, Bob Hired as a metallurgist, Bob was instrumental was a good golfer, always striving for his first in developing new materials for use in acid hole-in-one, and he had significant interest pumps. Over the years, he moved through in financial investments. He was very proud the organization as the Vice President of of his family, and often spoke of his wife and Engineering and later the Vice President of daughters. Bob’s boisterous laugh and beaming Sales & Marketing. His vast knowledge made smile always announced his arrival and will him a natural fit for field work, and Bob was be fondly remembered by those who knew often called on by customers around the world him. Bob was indeed one-of-a-kind and his to diagnose pump problems. He revamped the untimely passing has left a void that will not way Lewis® Pumps products were built and soon be filled. tested, increasing the profitability of pumps PAGE 4

Industry Insights Ma’aden Selects MECS® sulfuric acid technology from DuPont Sustainable Solutions for phosphate fertilizer complex WILMINGTON, Del.—DuPont Sustainable Solutions recently announced that MECS, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of DuPont, has been awarded the sulfuric acid technology license by the Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden) for its Waad Al Shamal Phosphate Project. MECS will provide the sulfuric acid technology and proprietary equipment for this three-line, 15,150 metric-ton-perday sulfuric acid facility. Ma’aden has selected a consortium led by long-time MECS licensee SNC Lavalin Group Inc. to perform engineering, procurement and construction of the sulfuric acid and power segments of the complex. When operational in 2016, the facility will be one of the largest worldclass phosphate fertilizer complexes, positioning Ma’aden as a significant global producer of fertilizers and other phosphate-based products. “We are proud to partner with Ma’aden and SNC on this landmark project and look forward to supporting Ma’aden in its endeavor to be a world-class minerals enterprise,” said Kirk Schall, MECS vice president of licensing. For more information, please visit www.sustainablesolutions.dupont.com.

Codelco taps Foster Wheeler for molybdenum refinery in Chile ZUG, Switzerland—Foster Wheeler AG recently announced that a subsidiary of its Global Engineering and Construction Group has been awarded a contract for engineering, procurement and related services for a grassroots molybdenum refinery in Chile. The contract was awarded by Molyb Ltda., an affiliate company of Codelco, the Chilean Copper Corporation, the world’s largest copper producing company and also a leading molybdenum concentrate producer. The new facility, planned to be one of the largest of its kind, will be located near Mejillones in northern Chile. The terms of the award were not disclosed. Foster Wheeler will undertake detailed engineering and provide procurement assistance and field engineering services for the new refinery, which is planned to process and refine 16,000 tonnes per annum (TPA) of molybdenum feedstock, obtained from various Codelco copper concentrator plants. The facility is expected to yield molybdenum as well

as copper, rhenium and sulfuric acid as by-products. Molybdenum and rhenium are used in electronics, special steels, petroleum refineries and the aerospace industry. Foster Wheeler’s scope of work is scheduled to be completed during the second quarter of 2015. “This latest award is a further important step in the extension of our Minerals and Metals track record and in the further development of our already excellent working relationship with Codelco,” said Dave Lawson, president and global leader of minerals and metals, Foster Wheeler AG.“This award reflects Codelco’s continued confidence in the quality of our technical expertise in minerals processing and our project execution.” Foster Wheeler AG is a global engineering and construction company and power equipment supplier. The company’s Global Engineering and Construction Group designs and constructs leading-edge processing facilities for the upstream oil and gas, LNG and gasto-liquids, refining, chemicals and petrochemicals, power, minerals and metals, environmental, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and healthcare industries. The company’s Global Power Group is a world leader in combustion and steam generation technology that designs, manufactures and erects steam generating and auxiliary equipment for power stations and industrial facilities and also provides a wide range of aftermarket services. The company is based in Zug, Switzerland, and its operational headquarters office is in Reading, United Kingdom. For more information, please visit www.fwc.com.

Chemtrade announces acquisition TORONTO, Ontario—Chemtrade Logistics Income Fund announced today that it has completed its previouslyannounced acquisition of Parsippany, NJ-based General Chemical Holding Company (General Chemical). The final total cash purchase price is expected to be approximately $900 million, after a working capital adjustment and payment of post-closing taxes. “This is a historic event for Chemtrade. The acquisition of General Chemical adds significant size, scale and scope to Chemtrade’s existing product and service platform,” said Chemtrade President and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Davis. “General Chemical has strong portfolio alignment with our current business, enhancing our existing sulfuric acid geographic footprint and greatly expanding our water treatment business so it now extends across most of North America. The acquisition of Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


General Chemical also moves Chemtrade into new but related product categories and end markets, and positions Chemtrade to capitalize on new growth opportunities.” For more information, please visit www.chemtradelogistics.com.

Solvay taps Credit Suisse for chemical unit sale BRUSSELS—Chemical producer Solvay SA has hired Credit Suisse Group to find a buyer for its sulfuric acid unit and approached private equity firms about a deal that could reach $800 million, according to people familiar with the matter. The unit, referred to as eco services, has annual earnings of around $110 million before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. Solvay said it would explore strategic options for the unit but did not give more details. A Solvay spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on the details of the sale. A Credit Suisse spokesman declined to comment. Solvay’s eco service business produces and regenerates sulfuric acid, which is used as a catalyst at refineries in the production of high-octane gasoline. The unit is a supplier to the largest refineries on the U.S. West Coast, along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and in the U.S. Midwest and Canada. It accounted for 9 percent of Solvay’s net sales of $4.32 billion in 2013. Solvay Chief Executive Jean-Pierre Clamadieu said a sale of eco services would simplify Solvay and allow it to reallocate resources to fast-growing businesses. “I think this business could be qualified as a cash cow or a sustainable cash generator to use a nice terminology,” Clamadieu said about eco services. For more information, please visit www.solvay.com.

Kansanshi Mine targets savings VANCOUVER, British Columbia— Kansanshi Mine says it will save about $150 million annually once the new copper smelter is in operation and producing sulfuric acid as a by-product.
 Kansanshi Mine, which is owned by First Quantum Minerals Limited, says the sulfuric acid is intended to be used in the solvent extraction/electrowinning (SXEW) process, thereby eliminating the need to purchase sulfur.
 Meanwhile, construction of the new 1.2 million tonnes-per-annum copper smelter was approaching peak levels with commissioning intended to start in the Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014

Department

Industry Insights second quarter of 2014, with the rampup continuing this year.
 The smelter is expected to operate at 80 percent of its design capacity by mid-2015 and achieve full capacity in the first quarter of 2016.
 For more information, please visit www.first-quantum.com.

Dundee Precious Metals Tsumeb smelter on track TORONTO, ONTARIO—As part of its long term strategy to bring the Tsumeb smelter to internationally accepted environmental standards and consistent with directives issued by the Namibian Government, Dundee Precious Metals Inc. entered into a lump sum turnkey contract with Outotec for the engineering, supply, construction and commissioning of a facility to treat smelter off-gas and produce sulfuric acid. The project is progressing well with engineering 60 percent complete, all long lead items purchased and the earthworks component of construction complete. At this stage, the total capital cost to complete the acid plant currently under construction, including owner’s costs, is estimated at $240 million, up from the initial estimate of $204 million. The project remains on track for commercial operations and acid deliveries to commence in the fourth quarter of 2014. “The installation of the acid plant is expected to complete our major environmental upgrades at the smelter and our obligations to the government, thereby minimizing the environmental and political risks to the smelter,” said Rick Howes, president and CEO. For more information, please visit www.dundeeprecious.com.

Sulfuric acid plant planned at Turkmenabat chemical plant TURKMENISTAN—A turnkey project on construction of a sulfuric acid plant with the capacity of 500,000 tons per year has kicked off at the Turkmenabat chemical plant. The new plant will support production of phosphate fertilizers for Turkmenistan’s agricultural sector. The plant’s surplus production will be sold abroad. The plant should be commissioned in July 2016. The new facility has been ordered by the State Concern Turkmenhimiya. The project is being implemented by the consortium comprising Japanese company Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Co., Ltd and Turkish Rönesans Türkmen Insaat Sanaýi we Tijaret Anonim Sirketi. For more information, please visit www.turkmenistan.ru/en/. q   PAGE 5


Cover Story

Sulfuric acid industry evolves over 20 years By: April Kabbash

The past 20 years have been a time of great change, both in the sulfuric acid industry and the world. Through it all, Sulfuric Acid Today has been there, helping readers navigate an increasingly evolving global marketplace. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the magazine, we asked several clients who have been with us from the beginning for their thoughts about the last two decades, and what they hope is on the horizon. From new technology to environmental stewardship, safety enhancements to information sharing, it’s been an impressive two decades in sulfuric acid production. Here are just a few ways our advertisers have seen the changes first hand.

Comprehensive maintenance

For many years, the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applied in acid plants. Time and money were not spent on comprehensive, preventative maintenance programs. When something failed (often catastrophically), it was fixed quickly, so that production could resume as soon as possible. Otherwise, maintenance was done during scheduled turnarounds, and not given much consideration in between. But technological advances have changed all that. “Twenty years ago, many customers struggled to operate on a continuous twelve-month run between catalyst screenings,” Jack Harris, president of VIP International, said. “Today, with improved, shape-optimized catalyst, many customers run 30 to 36 months between catalyst screenings. The extended runtime has promoted maintenance planners to consider more comprehensive preventive maintenance programs. As converter runtimes are extended, other equipment must be examined to assure reliability throughout the campaign. Sophisticated and knowledgeable inspections must be maintained. In the early 1990s, we would respond to as many as a half a dozen catastrophic failures in towers per year. Today, through comprehensive inspections and preventive maintenance practices, these catastrophic failures are typically avoided.” Ed Knoll, president of Acid Piping Technology, added, “with more emphasis on safety and preventative maintenance, plants no longer run piping to the point of failure.” These longer cycles and focus on preventative maintenance mean that PAGE 6

The exchange of best practices between plants increases the knowledge base of the industry as a whole. George Wang of Solvay, right, shares his company’s experiences during the flow control panel discussion at the 2013 Sulfuric Acid Roundtable. Also chairing the panel are, from left, Jerry Johnson of Tesoro and Frank Ybarra of Phillips 66.

there are more pieces to juggle at each turnaround, as well. Plant management wants to get the most out of each facility, optimizing both efficiency and time during an outage. “Clients require a much more sophisticated work breakdown schedule for the turnaround as the focus on asset utilization is much greater,” Doug Royster of Central Maintenance and Welding, Florida, said.

Changing relationships

One of the most significant changes noted in our interviews was the business relationship between the sulfuric acid producer and the service contractor. Contractors weren’t always viewed as part of the “team,” but as a necessary evil required to perform the tasks the producer was unwilling or unable to complete with plant personnel. “Twenty years ago, the contractor was viewed as an outside entity and, many times, as an expendable labor force,” said Harris. “As one old, crusty maintenance manager told me, ‘Son, you have to realize you have two strikes against you when you come through the gate as a contractor. If you were worth your salt, you would be working for a plant like we are.’ ” Luckily, attitudes are changing, providing a more productive, collaborative and safer workplace for everyone involved. “In the past, the contractor was generally evaluated on the end result and was left to his own devices as far as procedure,” said Harris. “Today, turning a blind eye to contractor protocol has been replaced with collaboration in examining every aspect of the work to assure mutual safety and productivity. Drawing upon the strength and expertise from each side in an effort of cooperation and respect has transformed

an adversarial role into one of mutual success.” Another relationship that has changed over the years is that between plants, suppliers and contractors when it comes to information sharing. Gone are the days of secrecy, thanks to global conferences and workshops where problems and best practices are shared, often leading to unexpected solutions. “Consolidation of companies has led to increased cooperation and collaboration between plants and suppliers. The industry has improved itself through the sharing of experiences,” said Bob Braun, director of engineering at Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps. “Conferences and seminars around the world have facilitated significant and valuable information transfer. This was unheard of prior to 1990. As companies and individuals throughout the industry share their ideas, experiences, triumphs and setbacks, the entire industry benefits and grows.” “Conferences allow a free exchange of information, ideas and best practices to be shared globally throughout the industry,” Harris said. “This magazine, Sulfuric Acid Today, has without a doubt had the largest effect on the network of information.” Chris Bailey, president of Roberts, a frequent attendee at industry conferences, shared these sentiments. “Our industry is one of continuous learning and improvement,” Bailey said. “My hope would be that there continues to be communication of best practices among sulfuric plant operators because it is through continuous learning, and sharing of best practices, that safer and more efficient protocols can be developed.”

Focus on environmental stewardship

Another major change over the past two decades has been a trend toward environmental awareness and green practices. While spurred by stricter government regulations, many of these initiatives, including energy recovery and cogeneration projects, have in turn become money savers for facilities, while also helping to safeguard the environment. “With more stringent government regulations, plant designs are far more efficient. Single absorption plants are almost a thing of the past, being replaced by low emission facilities that were thought to be unachievable only a few decades ago,” Harris said. “Some plants have further enhanced environmental preservation by converting waste heat into cogeneration

Relationships between contractors and plant personnel have improved greatly over the past 20 years, creating a win-win situation for everyone. Jack Harris of VIP International, right, explains the neutralization process to Bob Meisch, left, and Rick Bywater of Cornerstone Chemical Co.

power plants, thereby reducing the need for fossil fuel.” “Energy efficiency has gone up to 95 percent on most plants with heat recovery systems,” said John Horne, sales director, MECS, Inc. “There were about 10 reference HRS plants in the mid 1990s, compared to 85 plus now.” Stricter environmental regulations have also led to innovative technological advances that might not have otherwise been developed. “The demand for lower emissions has allowed our R&D to develop and bring new catalysts and technologies to market that would not have had much demand unless plants were being forced to reduce emissions,” Frands E. Jensen, sales manager, environmental for Haldor Topsøe A/S, said. “And lower SO2 emissions requirements will most likely continue.” There are currently no overall international environmental regulations in place. Each country has its own regulations, and in some countries specific requirements are established for each individual plant. The European Union is, however, in a process aimed at establishing binding common rules for the whole of the European Union valid for a number of important industrial sectors. Steve Puricelli of the MECS Technology Group also credits new technologies with helping reduce emissions. “SO2 emissions have been squeezed down to 1-2 pounds per ton, with scrubbers (DynaWave®) and regenerative scrubbers (SolvR™) getting the number down to 20 ppm. And acid mist emissions have been reduced from 0.15 pounds per ton to 0.075 pounds per ton.” The industry must continue to change and adapt, in order to take advantage of new technology and meet new challenges head-on. “As fossil fuels become more expensive, sulfuric acid production will Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


Cover Story

become a coveted source of energy. For this reason many new plants will be constructed with ‘built-in’ energy recovery features,” said John V. Orlando, P. Eng., senior project manager/sales for NORAM Engineering and Constructors Ltd. But suppliers must be ready to adapt quickly to changing needs and environmental standards. “Technology providers will be called upon to provide acid plants that are proven and reliable to operate. To achieve these goals, more innovative designs and modern technologies will need to be developed and implemented.” These changes won’t stop any time soon, either. “We expect the continuation of lower emission levels for all types of plants and the need to expand existing plant capacity through improved plant, process and catalyst design,” said Mike Fenton, Chemetics Senior BD Manager for Acid Proprietary Equipment. “There will also be a need for continued improvement in heat recovery in sulfur burning acid plants, and greater recognition that the overall lifecycle costs of a plant and its equipment are of prime importance.” When all of this is taken together, from stricter emissions standards to power cogeneration to constantly improving technology, the end result is a win-win for the sulfuric acid industry and the environment. “The improved energy efficiency has resulted in additional power cogeneration allowing sulfuric acid producers to reduce energy costs, while continuing to be good stewards of the environment,” said Bailey.

Economies of scale

The past two decades have brought about many changes affecting plant size, as well. From consolidation within the industry to cost concerns, the result is that facilities are getting bigger. “The last 20 years have seen a significant increase in the physical size of the plants. A typical plant used to produce 2,500 to 3,000 tons per day, whereas today the new plants are producing 4,500 tons per day,” said Doug Royster of Central Maintenance and Welding, Florida. MECS’ Horne echoed this sentiment. “In the 1990s, 3,500 STPD was considered a world class plant. Today, world class is closer to 5,500 STPD.” “The economy of scale trending toward larger plants for phosphate fertilizer production and quicker turnaround times have changed the landscape of the sulfuric acid market within the past decade,” said Mike Graeff, president of Koch Knight LLC. Dr. Hannes Storch, vice president, sulfuric acid/off-gas of Outotec, agrees. Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014

“Economy of scale has resulted in larger and larger plant sizes to keep the production costs down.” And Storch predicts that further economic pressure will result in even larger units. As with any other major change, larger plant size affects suppliers, too, demanding different solutions and new equipment. “Increased plant capacity has led to the development of larger pumps,” said Janey Marie Hartzell, marketing specialist, Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps. “This has spawned research and development efforts into new designs as well as the investigation of new materials. As the industry changes, so must any supplier hoping to stay at the top.”

New products and technologies

Along with larger plants and more complete maintenance schedules comes a need for new products and technologies. Many of our client companies have kept pace with the changes in the industry, meeting the demands and exceeding the expectations of facilities worldwide. Here, in their own words, are some of their most important advances over the last two decades.

exchanger tube cleaning and sleeving; and catalyst handling and NOx removal to acid and sulfate neutralization. VIP is also relied on for SO2 and SO3 scrubbing, packing removal, tower demolition, distribution repair and replacement and high temperature entry.

MECS Inc.

The MECS® HRS™ system has made practical the recovery of the last 25 percent of the energy generated by the sulfuric acid process as medium pressure steam. The more than 80 units in operation are a testament to the ease of use and robustness of this technology. The MECS® SolvR™ technology has opened doors to waste-sulfur recovery. Many flue gas streams contain sulfur, but are too dilute to recover as a usable product. SolvR™ technology now provides a way to recover the SO2 and process it in a conventional sulfuric acid plant. When SolvR™ technology is used instead of alkali based scrubbers, waste is converted into a useful product.

VIP International

VIP International has long served the sulfuric acid industry by solving turnaround maintenance problems. In the last 20 years the VIP employees have performed almost 4,000 tower inspections. During that same time they have handled over 160,000,000 liters of sulfuric acid catalyst. With this much experience under their belts, they may not have seen it all, but when it comes to acid plants they’ve seen more than anyone else. Combining experience and innovation, VIP has focused on reducing downtime while providing superior service, safety, experience and productivity. The company continues to provide new and creative maintenance solutions for everything from converter maintenance to tower inspections and repair; mist eliminator removal, cleaning and installation to

A major advancement in catalyst handling is VIP’s patented dust-free loading system.

MECS® SolvR™ Technology can be integrated into new sulfuric acid plant designs to achieve ultra-low SO2 emissions and high energy recovery with virtually zero waste.

MECS® ZeCor® Alloys have made tower replacements a more manageable task during a routine shutdown and provides the potential for easier maintenance repairs over the life of the tower.

There have been three significant improvements made to MECS® Catalyst over the years. The shapes have been optimized to reduce pressure drop and to accommodate a greater build-up of dust. The activity has improved, allowing for better conversion, greater acid production or lower catalyst loadings. And thirdly, new formulations have allowed for lower operating temperatures, which translate to higher conversion or the ability to process higher concentrations of SO2. Mist eliminator technology has also been improved. The MECS® Brink® XP™ element and Brink® AutoDrain™ features are the first major steps forward in new mist eliminator design. These elements are more efficient, operate at lower pressure drop and significantly reduce maintenance and operating issues by eliminating seal cups and drain legs. MECS® ZeCor® Alloys have opened the door to innovative distributor designs like the UniFlo® Acid Distributor that improves the performance of sulfuric acid towers and at the same time reduces maintenance. ZeCor® has also made tower replacements a much more manageable task during a routine shutdown and provides the potential for easier maintenance repairs over the life of the tower. MECS® Operator Training Simulators (OTS) for sulfuric acid plants have brought operator training into the 21st century. MECS has created a suite of training simulators that are considered the ‘best-in-class’ method to prepare operators for real world situations such as emergency scenarios, troubleshooting and process optimization. The benefits of the OTS include greater student interest and participation, as well as a significant increase in long-term knowledge retention. All of these equate to a greater return on the customer’s investment in training time.

Haldor Topsøe

On the catalyst side, Haldor Topsøe has developed and introduced several new types of catalysts to meet the needs of facilities around the world. VK69™, the first cesium catalyst type tailored for lean gases, has with its

Topsøe’s VK-701 LEAP5™ catalyst.   PAGE 7


Cover Story

Acid Piping Technology

Topsøe WSA plant at Yunnan Riches Chemical Industry Co. Ltd., Kaiyuan, Yunnan, People’s Republic of China. With start-up in 2008, the WSA plant cleans sour gases from a coal gasification plant and produces 83 MTPD of sulfuric acid.

unsurpassed performance helped numerous clients achieve lower emissions and higher production. The VK-WSX™ catalyst was developed as a low-temperature catalyst for the last bed of wet sulfuric acid (WSA) plants, meaning that up to 99.7 percent conversion can be achieved in single contact WSA plants. VK-WSX™ is installed in several WSA plants. The VK38™ 25 mm Daisy dust protection catalyst allows bigger penetration depth of dust particles into the 25 mm Daisy layer. The resulting higher dust capacity yields significant savings in blower energy and allows plants to lengthen the campaign compared to standard size catalyst. After installing cesium catalyst, our VK-701 LEAP5™ is the next step for achieving even higher conversion. VK701 LEAP5™ uses the new LEAP™ technology to circumvent the transport deficiencies in the molten phase and improve the amount of vanadium in the V+5 form. On the technology side, the development of the WSA-DC™ (double condensation) has been one of our major achievements in recent years. The WSADC™ is a double condensation wet gas technology that allows combining the high energy efficiency of the WSA technology with very high SO2 conversion efficiency of the double contact principle. WSADC™ plants can be designed for as high as 99.99 percent conversion efficiency.

Codelco’s Mina Ministro Hales sulfuric acid plant in northern Chile was constructed by Outotec.

Outotec® LUREC™ strong gas processing technology and Outotec® HEROS™ low pressure steam heat recovery. To increase lifetime, Outotec has also worked on equipment such as stainless steel converters, CORD™ gas heat exchangers and SX™ solutions. Our goal is to make sure that we are always ready to respond to changing requirements.

NORAM Engineering and Constructors

NORAM has also brought several new technologies to market over the last two decades. One of these products is the NORAM HP™ (High Performance) low pressure drop ceramic saddles packing. By choosing NORAM HP™ packing, clients can debottleneck their acid plant and increase production rate or reduce energy consumption. HP™ packing has been proven to reduce pressure drop across the packing in acid towers and increase gas flow throughput in the tower by 25 percent. NORAM has also developed the Split Flow™ radial flow gas heat exchanger to

Large diameter SX acid towers and SX pump tank were designed and supplied by NORAM.

address problems of corrosion in cold gas exchangers due to condensation of the gas at cold zones of the exchanger, typically at the bottom tube sheet. For more than 15 years this patented product has improved the reliability and life-cycle of cold gas heat exchangers, SO3 coolers, pre-heaters and tail-gas re-heat exchangers. NORAM’s pipe-type acid distributors have also been well received by the industry because of their low cost and easy installation. These distributors promote uniform acid distribution into the packing as no leveling is required, unlike that of competitor products. Additionally, the design features external access ports, which provide added safety to service personnel.

In addition to completing several major projects around the globe, including the U.S., Australia, Morocco and Jordan, Acid Piping Technology (APT) has improved the options available to plants in a number of ways. Mondi™ piping alloy has undergone major improvements in metallurgy and casting techniques. Thanks to these improvements, piping will now last the life of the acid plant. APT has partnered with ASC Valve Company to provide excellent gas duct valves and jug valves at competitive prices. ASC is one of the few, perhaps only, manufacturers offering tight shutoff, high temperature, low pressure valves. In recent years, APT has also developed low pressure drop, high efficiency tower saddle packing.

Chemetics

Although Chemetics was the first to introduce silicon stainless steels (SARAMET® alloy) to the industry in 1982, the 1990s and early 2000s were a period of acceptance by industry for this alloy in all strong acid systems—towers, tanks, distributors and piping—over traditional brick lined vessels and cast iron. Chemetics improved its mechanical designs and modernized its fabrication facilities to meet the increasing competition from global sourcing. We have led in the supply of modular gas exchangers and stainless steel converters to lower the overall cost and risk for overseas projects. As the acid plants have been getting bigger, we have continued to lead in the development of acid coolers, pushing the limits of cooler size, water and acid temperatures while ensuring reliability.

Outotec

Acid Piping Technology has been providing products for the sulfuric acid industry since 1991. Pictured is APT’s line of high performance ceramics.

Koch Knight LLC

Koch Knight has challenged the market by producing multiple product advancements over the past 20 years with the introduction of our PYROFLEX™ acid resistant sheet lining 500 for tower membranes, FLEXERAMIC™ ceramic structured packing for more efficient mass transfer, LPD™ random packing for lower pressure drop in towers and advancements in our KNIGHT-WARE™ ceramic dome supports to replace outdated support arches.

For higher efficiency, the company has been developing technologies such as

Outotec constructed the world’s largest sulfuric acid plant for Ma’aden in Saudi Arabia. PAGE 8

Stainless steel converter designed and supplied by NORAM.

Chemetics delivered the world’s largest acid cooler for JSC Kazakhmys in 2007. Since then, similar sized coolers have also been supplied to other Chemetics clients. 

Koch Knight transports a completely brick lined final absorption sulfuric acid tower. Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


Cover Story

the fabrication and installation of the acid cooler with new piping. The company also completed the fabrication and installation of a converter and new ductwork for a plant in Alabama, including demolition of the old converter.

Central Maintenance and Welding

CMW’s process has incorporated computer generated parts to be cut on CNC equipment, which has increased the accuracy and efficiency of vessel and duct fabrication. Many developed parts that once would have been cut long for shop fit and trim can now be cut exactly with great confidence and accuracy. Stitch cut and pre-cut developed openings decrease layout errors and speed the fit-up process. The computer-generated and CNC-cut parts fit for a more uniform profile which speeds welding and increases weld quality.

Installation of Koch Knight’s proprietary PYROFLEX™ acid resistant sheet lining.

Sulfuric Acid Today is proud to have been a part of the past 20 years in the sulfuric acid industry, and we look forward to the next 20. The companies and people who make up this thriving industry will continue to surmount any obstacles and meet any goals set out for them, adapting as they go. We look forward to helping that happen. q

Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps

As a supplier, our focus is on answering or anticipating the needs of the industry. As a result, we have developed several new pump sizes. The largest is the 18H pump, capable of delivering 11,000 gallons per minute against 128 feet of head. Designed for both standard acid applications and HRS facilities, this pump quickly gained popularity among our customers. We also developed our longest pumps to date—at more than 40 feet—for the concentrated solar power market. We continue to adapt our existing products and develop new products to meet the needs of our customers around the world.

Mosaic Fertilizer’s New Wales 02 HRS Tower set in preparation by Central Maintenance & Welding for the Spring 2014 turnaround. The field assembly was partially completed, awaiting insulation and platform placement.

Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps size 18H vertical centrifugal pump.

Roberts

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014

November 1994 The first issue of Sulfuric Acid Today is published. The 16-page newsprint tabloid featured Magma Metals’ new 3,400 tons per day capacity third train with Monsanto Enviro-Chem (now MECS Inc.) state-of-the-art design on the cover and VIP International’s innovative turbo turnarounds expertise. Winter 1997 Sulfuric Acid Today is printed in all color on glossy paper. October 1998 Sulfuric Acid Today hosts its first conference, the Sulfuric Acid Re g e n e r at i o n Maintenance Workshop, in Baton Rouge, La., with more than 40 professionals from the acid regeneration industry.

Roberts replaces an outdated carbon steel converter with a new stainless steel model.

With more than 35 years of experience, The Roberts Company (now Roberts) offers turn-key engineering, fabrication and installation services. Technological advances over the last 20 years, including improved welding processes allowing consistent high-quality tube to tube sheet joint welds, have enhanced the products Roberts can offer its customers. Some of their recent projects include the design for the replacement of two plate and frame heat exchangers with a ZeCor-Z® acid cooler. This project also included a cost analysis of the ZeCor-Z® acid cooler versus an anodically protected acid cooler, as well as

20 years of Sulfuric Acid Today milestones

Central Maintenance and Welding sets the 200-foot sulfuric stack for Mosaic Fertilizer’s New Wales 04 plant during their Spring 2014 turnaround.

A carbon steel, brick-lined tower was recently converted by Roberts to a MECS ZeCor® Alloy tower in Louisiana.

May 2002 Sulfuric Acid Today hosts its first Australasia Sulfuric Acid Workshop in Melbourne, Australia with over 50 sulfuric acid professionals from 13 countries. Since then we have hosted seven biennial Australian workshops throughout the country. March 2009 Sulfuric Acid Today assumes all responsibility of the Phosphate Maintenance Roundtable (PMR), changing the name to the ‘Sulfuric Acid Roundtable (SAR)’. Started in 1991 by Lou Doerr and John Warhoover, Sr, of Lewis Pumps and Dever Biggerstaff, the first PMR was held in a small meeting room at the Peace River Country Club in Florida with approximately 20 people in attendance. In 1999, the roundtable was moved to Plant City, Fla., and began to grow and was later moved to Lakeland, Fla. The first Sulfuric Acid Roundtable sponsored by Sulfuric Acid Today magazine was held in Galveston, Texas. Since then, we have hosted two more Roundtables: 2011 in Pinehurst, NC, and 2013 in Scottsdale, AZ which was attended by 180 industry professionals.   PAGE 9


Feature

Sulfuric Acid Today revisits twenty years of cover stories By: April Kabbash and April Smith

Since the first issue of Sulfuric Acid Today magazine rolled off the presses in November 1994, the vision of the magazine has remained the same: to publish a trade journal for the sulfuric acid industry that communicates the latest technology and services available in order to maintain and operate acid plants more efficiently. We at Sulfuric Acid Today would like to sincerely thank all of the following producing plant companies for allowing us to profile their company in our magazine and believing in our vision as well. In celebration of our 20th anniversary, we took a look back at all of our past cover stories, as well as what those plants are doing today. We hope you enjoy these snapshots of our everchanging industry.

Magma Metal Company

November 1994 – Vol. 1, No. 1 Magma Metal Co. of San Manuel, Ariz., made its mark on the industry as a rapidfire turnaround facility. With complete turnarounds taking place at 15-month intervals, the company fine-tuned its turnaround procedures to make the necessary events both safe and efficient. At the time, Magma was producing 1 million short tons of 100-percent sulfuric acid per year, making it one of the largest one-site producers of smelter acid in the United States. Company Update In 1995, The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited (BHP) acquired Magma Metals for $2.4 billion. Prior to its shutdown in 1999, Magma’s operation in San Manuel was the largest operating underground copper mine in the country. In 2006, the Magma Metals plant was dismantled and sold. The two remaining smokestacks were toppled in January 2007.

Kennecott Utah Copper Corp.

September 1995 – Vol. 1, No. 2 In June 1995, following three years of planning and engineering, Kennecott Utah Copper Corp. brought the world’s largest metallurgical sulfuric acid plant online just outside of Salt Lake City at the Bingham Canyon Mine. This modern facility replaced a previously existing plant, which was shutdown in May 1995. The 3,860-ton per day plant was designed and constructed by St. Louis-based Monsanto Enviro-Chem (now MECS Inc.). Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014

In addition to its economic attributes, the new facility also garnered attention as one of the most environmentally sensitive plants in the world. The MECS design included reductions of sulfur dioxide emissions from around 17,000 tons per year to less than 1,000 tons per year. The facility was also the first to feature MECS’ new HRS system that helps capture and recover energy— around 24 megawatts on an average production basis. In addition, it was the first to use two HRS towers. Company Update In April 2013, a landslide occurred at the mine. It was the largest non-volcanic landslide in the history of North America. Around 65-70 million cubic meters of dirt and rock thundered down the side of the pit. Mining operations were shut down the previous day in anticipation of the slide. The massive slide is expected to cut the production of the mined copper by 110,000 short tons. A second slide caused an evacuation of 100 workers on September 11, 2013. In addition to producing about 300,000 tons of copper a year, the Bingham Canyon Mine also produces approximately 400,000 ounces of gold; 4 million ounces of silver; 30 million pounds of molybdenum; and 1 million tons of sulfuric acid annually.

Asarco Inc. – El Paso, Texas facility

Spring/Summer 1996 – Vol. 2, No. 1 First started over a century ago, the Asarco Inc. El Paso, Texas, facility was one of the nation’s oldest copper smelters. Originally built to handle ore from Mexico, the site consisted of two sulfuric acid plants—a 1972 Lurgi (575 tons per day) and a 1978 Monsanto (1,050 tons per day). In the mid-1990s, the onset of stricter environmental standards prompted Asarco to monitor the heat exchangers for potential leaks that can increase emissions. In 1996, if a plant’s sulfuric acid emissions exceeded 600 parts per million, it was shut down. If a facility lost a heat exchanger due to a few leaking tubes, the amount of tail gas would shut that site down. To determine a leak, acoustic monitoring equipment must be utilized inside the exchanger. But accessing the exchanger requires a cool down process that can take days. To save both time and money, Asarco called on VIP International (VIP) of Baton Rouge, La., and its high temperature entry process. VIP’s high temperature entry virtually eliminates the exchanger cooling process. VIP can usually enter after only four hours of cooling. Once inside, VIP uses acoustic emissions equipment to spot the leaks, and can have them plugged long before the conventional process would even begin.

Company Update The Asarco El Paso, Texas, smelter was idled in February 1999 due to historically low worldwide copper prices and the closure of several copper mines. In its last full year of operation, the plant produced 120,320 tons of copper. When the plant was fully operational, it provided about 400 high-paying jobs and had a direct and indirect impact on the local economy of about $300 million annually. Asarco was acquired by Grupo Mexico in November 1999. With the purchase of Asarco, Grupo Mexico became the third largest copper producer in the world. Asarco is a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico Sa de CV. In April 2001, Asarco suspended operations in East Helena, Montana. In 2005, Asarco filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In 2009, Asarco emerged from bankruptcy and reintegrated into Grupo Mexico, deciding not to reopen its El Paso smelter. In December 2009 Asarco signed an agreement guiding the course of the environmental cleanup of the El Paso 400-acre smelter, which will be lead by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Cleanup of the site began in 2010 and the two remaining smokestacks were demolished in April 2013. Completion of the cleanup is targeted for 2015.

Rhone-Poulenc Environmental Services

Winter 1997 – Vol. 3, No. 1 Founded in 1895, RhonePoulenc began as a producer of drugs that would later be used to treat casualties in World War I. Since then, the Parisbased operation has set up shop in more than 160 countries and become the world’s seventh largest chemical and pharmaceutical company. In 1948, the company moved to U.S. markets. It employed more than 7,300 people at 50 plants in more than 25 U.S. states. North American operations were steeped in the production of agricultural products and basic and specialty chemicals. One of the company’s strongholds was in the sulfuric acid business, operated under the guise of the company’s Environmental Services Enterprise. The company was a leading producer among merchant sulfuric acid suppliers. Rhone-Poulenc was also the U.S. and world leader in sulfuric acid regeneration. Within the Environmental Services branch, there are six facilities that compose the core strength of Rhone-Poulenc’s sulfur capacity. They are located in Baton Rouge, La.; Baytown, Texas; Dominguez, Calif.; Hammond, Ind.; Houston; and Martinez, Calif. Company Update In 1998, Rhodia became an independent company following the merger of Rhone-Poulenc’s pharmaceutical   PAGE 11


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operations with those of Germany’s Hoescht. The pharmaceutical end later became known as Aventis, while the remaining chemical interests became Rhodia. Rhodia’s Eco Services, headquartered in Cranbury, N.J., is a $230 million division of the global chemical giant Rhodia Inc. For decades, Rhodia, following in the footsteps of predecessors Stauffer Chemical and Rhone-Poulenc, has been the leading provider of sulfuric acid regeneration services and sulfuric acid to industrial markets. This commitment remains unchanged. The six sites have operated as a nationwide network for more than 45 years. In 2011, Solvay, an international chemical group headquartered in Brussels, purchased Rhodia for $4.84 billion. Today, Rhodia is a leading provider of sulfuric acid regeneration services to refineries and other chemical manufacturers, as well as a manufacturer of sulfuric acid and other sulfur-related products.

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc.

Fall 1997/Winter 1998 – Vol. 3, No. 2 In the short span of a decade, Potash Corp. of Sasktachewan (PCS) has helped change the future of the fertilizer industry. Through a managerial philosophy that embraces growth and change, PCS has built a company of quality reserves, quality operations and quality employees, which continues to be further enhanced by new acquisitions. In March 1997, PCS acquired Memphis, Tenn.based Arcadian Corp. The company’s integration into the PCS structure created a fertilizer empire unparalleled in quality and service capabilities. It cemented PCS as the No. 1 nitrogen producer in the U.S. and the second worldwide, and enabled the company to build connections among subsidiaries and develop synergies that enable it to better serve its clientele as a one-stopshop. What was once a potash-only corporation is now set for the 21st century as a powerhouse in the potash, phosphate and nitrogen fields. At the helm of the PCS metamorphosis is Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer C. E. Childers. A 40-year industry veteran, Childers joined PCS in 1987. He brought with him a clear-cut vision of the industry’s future. He led the company through privatization in 1989, bringing a return to shareholders of more than 500 percent. Childers’ foresight helped prepare the company for the rising world population and the growing demands on economies and farmers. Company Update Over the last several years, PCS has continued to invest in its operations by completing potash debottlenecking projects at its Canadian facilities in Rocanville, Allan, Lanigan and Patience Lake. Expansion projects have also been completed at Allan and Cory, and Aurora, N.C. The company has also been enhancing its portfolio through corporate acquisitions. In 1999, the company acquired Minera Yolanda SCM, a specialty potash producer in Chile, for $37M. In addition, PCS has been purchasing increasingly larger stakes in Sociedad PAGE 12

Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM), Arab Potash Company, Sinofert Holdings Ltd. and Israel Chemicals Limited.

DuPont Sulfur Products

Spring/Summer 1998 – Vol. 4, No. 1 As the oldest continuously operating industrial enterprise in the world, the DuPont Co. has consistently evolved to meet society’s changing needs. Established in 1802 as a smokeless powder manufacture, the company is known for its quality and consistent performance. The company’s Sulfur Products Division, which is in the process of growing to include 10 sulfuric acid plants worldwide, brings a unique group of products and services to the company, and has helped secure DuPont’s bright future into the next millennium. DuPont currently operates six sulfuric acid plants in the U.S., has part ownership in two in Mexico, and two in Europe as part of the purchase of the Tioxide business from ICI. The division’s U.S. plants, located in Fort Hill, Ohio; Wurtland, Ky.; James River, Va.; La Porte, Texas; and Lake Charles and Burnside, La., have a combined capacity of approximately 1.5 million tons per year of fuming, nonfuming and specialty acids. The sites also provide spent acid regeneration services for the petroleum industry. Company Update DuPont continues to be a benchmark for sulfuric acid plant operations and services. For an update on DuPont, see DuPont Clean Technologies Spring/ Summer 2009 – Vol. 15, No. 1 later in this article.

Phelps Dodge Mining

Fall/Winter 1998 – Vol. 4, No. 2 Throughout its 115-year history as part of the copper mining industry, Phelps Dodge Corp. has evolved into one of the world’s largest copper producers, while never straying from the belief that being a good business goes handin-hand with being a good neighbor. Since its inception in the 1830s, Phelps Dodge has placed environmental responsibility at the heart of its mining operations. As times, products and people have changed, those ideals set forth by the company founder, Anson Greene Phelps, have never faltered. Phelps Dodge entered the copper mining business in 1881. As part of the government’s requirements placed upon copper miners and their sulfur emissions regulations, Phelps Dodge operates three sulfuric acid plants for use with its copper smelting business. The production of acid is essential to the smelter operations. In 1998, Phelps maintained two smelter operations – the Chino Mines Co. and Phelps Dodge Hidalgo Inc. The Hidalgo site runs two acid plants to keep up with its copper smelting.

Phelps Dodge has found an alternative to the transport and disposal of its sulfuric acid with the development of an internal consumer through its minefor-leach operations. The leaching process requires the acid, so the two operations serve as a perfect complement. Company Update In March 2007, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. acquired Phelps Dodge corporation, creating the world’s largest publicly traded copper company. For a company update, see Freeport-McMoRan Spring/ Summer 2012—Vol. 18, No. 1 later in this article.

CF Industries Inc. – Florida Operations

Spring/Summer 1999 – Vol. 5, No. 1 As one of the world’s leading manufacturers and distributors of fertilizer products, CF Industries Inc. has carved a unique niche for itself as a consistent, unchanging face in a rapidly consolidating industry. The company’s Florida Operations—which include four sites at Bartow, Plant City, Hardee and the Port of Tampa—serve as the base of all the company’s phosphate mining, manufacturing and distribution. The four facilities within the Florida Operations have been bolstered by CF’s unusual structure as a corporate entity owned by farm supply cooperatives throughout the United States and Canada. The Florida sites work in tandem to mine, manufacture and distribute the necessary nutrients to CF’s cooperative owners. This co-op arrangement has been the saving grace for CF during market ups and downs. With a built-in market, operating at capacity is always cost-effective. Production levels at CF are at an all-time high. Bartow produces between 1,000 and 1,100 tons per day and Plant City generates as much as 7,000 tons per day on average. In March 1999, Plant City levels reached record-setting status with a 100-percent operating factor on all acid plants. Company Update CF Industries Florida Operations has always been a stellar example of production and safety for the industry as a whole. In September 2003, the company was recognized for its efforts and was named one of America’s Safest Companies by Occupational Hazards magazine. To earn that title, CF achieved over 6 million safe work hours at the Plant City Complex in late 2003. In 2005, CF Industries Inc. initiated an initial public offering as the final step to establishing CF Industries Holdings, Inc. as a public company. Continuing their quest to become a nitrogen bellwether in the global fertilizer industry, in 2010 CF Industries acquired Terra Industries Inc. This positioned CF Industries as the premier nitrogen and phosphate fertilizer manufacturer in North America, the second largest nitrogen fertilizer producer in the world and the third largest phosphate fertilizer producer among public companies. In late 2013, the Mosaic Co. announced an agreement to purchase CF Industries for $1.4 billion. Under the deal, CF Industries agreed to sell the Hardee County phosphate rock mine; the Plant City phosphate Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


Feature

complex; an ammonia terminal, phosphate warehouse and dock at the Port of Tampa; and the site of the former Bartow phosphate complex to Mosaic. The facilities to be acquired by Mosaic currently produce roughly 1.8 million tons of phosphate fertilizer per year.

The deal is also subject to a long-term ammonia supply agreement, under which CF Industries will supply ammonia to Mosaic from its Donaldsonville, La., nitrogen complex. The company will also supply ammonia to Mosaic from its 50 percent owned Point Lisas Nitrogen Ltd. (PLNL) facility in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

 Under the Donaldsonville ammonia agreement, CF Industries will supply between 600,000 and 800,000 tons of ammonia per year for up to 15 years, which is expected to begin by 2017.

SF Phosphates Ltd. Co.

Fall/Winter 1999 – Vol. 5, No. 2 Dedicated to producing a cost-conscious product while remaining a valiant defender of the unique environment in which it thrives, SF Phosphates Ltd. Co. has proved a shrewd competitor in the fertilizer industry. The company’s operations consist of two facilities that work in conjunction with one another to create a streamlined, cost-effective system. The Vernal, Utah, site is home to the company’s mining operations while the Rock Springs, Wyo., location is home to the company’s fertilizer plant. The two sites are connected with a 10-inch slurry line that transports the phosphate concentrate over the Uintah Mountains to Rock Springs, some 96 miles away. The pipeline, constructed by predecessor Chevron, has freed the company from the reliance on other forms of transportation that are often affected by inclement weather in the region. Two sulfuric acid plants power the Rock Springs operation. The first, a Lurgi model, produces 1,900 short tons per day. The more recent plant, brought online in 1995, is a 1,250 short tons per day Monsanto model. Prior to its installation, SF had been purchasing its sulfuric acid to supplement the plant’s production. Two finished products are created at SF’s facilities— super phosphoric acid and MAP. Resources produced internally, such as the sulfuric acid and the phosphate rock mined at Vernal, help keep SF’s production costs to a minimum. Company Update In late 2003, the J.R. Simplot company purchased Farmland’s interest in the SF Phosphates venture for approximately $64.5 million. The manufacturing facility at Rock Springs, Wyo., and the phosphate mine at Vernal, Utah, are now a Simplot-only enterprise known as Simplot Phospahtes. For an update on Simplot Phosphates, see J.R. Simplot Co. Fall/Winter 2001 Vol. 7, No. 2 later in this article.

Rohm and Haas Texas

Spring/Summer 2000 – Vol. 6, No. 1 Rohm and Haas’ Deer Park site is a highly innovative specialty chemicals business and a rising star in the Lone Star State. World-class production facilities—both in size and capacity—make the facility the crowning Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014

glory in the company’s network of franchises. Located in the shadow of the towering 570-foot monument that marks the historic battle of San Jacinto, Rohm and Haas is a stalwart representative of Texas’ 21st century leaders. A highly innovative specialty polymer and chemical company, Rohm and Haas Texas is in constant growth mode as it builds an ever-broadening technical base to serve the global community. Founded in 1907 by two aspiring German entrepreneurs, Rohm and Haas branched out to the United States in its first decade. In the 1920s, the company moved to specialty chemicals. Innovations in acrylic chemistry and the creation of Plexiglas helped bolster company profits and reputation. In the late 1940s, Deer Park set up shop along the Houston Ship Channel. Today, the site is one of the most productive in the company’s network. Central to the site is a sulfuric acid plant that produces more than half-amillion tons of sulfuric acid each year. Company Update Consolidation has been a major factor in the sulfuric acid industry over the past 20 years, and Rohm and Haas is no exception. In 2009, Dow Chemical Company bought Rohm and Haas for $15 million. Today, Dow Deer Park occupies 700 acres along the Houston Ship Channel, and employs nearly 790 people within eight production areas that operate as separate facilities or “plants within a plant.” The myriad of specialty chemicals manufactured at the site include methyl methacrylate, acrylic acid, amines and various acrylates.

Mississippi Phosphates Corp.

Fall/Winter 2000 – Vol. 6, No. 2 Mississippi Phosphates Corp. is ideally located for domestic and international business along the coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The company has blossomed as a successful industrial enterprise with a corporate philosophy that is more about family and roots than big business and bottom lines. In the mid-1950s, the company moved toward the Gulf Coast area to combine all three primary plant nutrients—potassium, nitrogen and phosphate. Some 40 years later, following a variety of acquisitions, mergers and overhauls, Mississippi Phosphates is now a 250-person strong company, producing 900,000 tons of DAP per year. The site has a 70,000-ton storage capacity, and its close proximity to a port at Pascagoula enables the company to ship at a rate of 8,000 tons of product per day. Presently, there are two Lurgi sulfuric acid plants in operation on the site. Both were originally 1,500 tons per day plants. Upgrades and the addition of low-pressure catalyst have pushed the plants to 1,750 tons per day. Mississippi Phosphates combines its homegrown sulfuric acid with internationally imported Moroccan phosphate rock to create its quality product. Close

proximity to the southern Mississippi port and the high quality of the imported rock made the decision an easy one. With the finely milled Moroccan rock, Mississippi Phosphates only has to run one mill to prep the resource for production. Company Update In June 2003, Mississippi Chemicals voluntarily filed for a Chapter 11 reorganization. The company determined that this choice was the best for the longterm interests of the company and its stakeholders. In 2005, Terra Industries Inc. purchased the nitrogen side of the business for $268 million, including assumed debt. In 2010, Terra Industries was acquired by CF Industries for $4.7 billion. The combined company became the second largest nitrogen fertilizer producer in the world. CF Industries and Terra have complementary strengths in nitrogen, providing breadth and flexibility in product offerings. In addition, the locations of CF Industries’ and Terra’s facilities together expand the combined company’s domestic reach. The phosphate side of the business emerged from Chapter 11 proceedings as Mississippi Phosphates Corp. MPC’s manufacturing facilities at Pascagoula include the two Lurgi sulfuric acid plants, a phosphoric acid plant and a DAP granulation plant. The DAP granulation plant has a maximum annual production capacity of approximately 850,000 tons. The existing sulfuric acid plants have the capacity to produce sulfuric acid sufficient for annual DAP production of approximately 600,000 to 640,000 tons. The company has been plagued in recent years by a string of safety violations, including the deaths of two workers. In January, the company announced that it will add monoammonium phosphate (MAP) to its product line, beginning this spring. The addition of MAP to the MPC product portfolio will allow the company to take advantage of broader market opportunities. In broadening its product mix, MPC will combine internal marketing efforts with an exclusive off-take agreement for MAP with Interoceanic Corporation (IOC), of Ossining, N.Y., in an effort to enhance its targeting of value-added market sectors.

INEOS Acrylics

Spring/Summer 2001 – Vol 7, No. 1 With an eye on the future and a firm grasp on the successes of the past, INEOS Acrylics has forged a secure post for itself as a global leader in the acrylics trade. Though the INEOS name is relatively new, the company’s roots are deep—imbedded in the strengths of its diverse background, derived from the combination of seven companies. The name INEOS was first adopted in 1999, following the purchase of ICI Acrylics by INEOS Capital and Charterhouse Development Capital. The combination of the companies merged 70-plus years of cutting-edge research and development history under one roof. Chemist John Crawford provided ICI with its entrée into the worldwide methyl methacrylate (MMA) markets in 1931. Crawford built on the principals used to polymerize MMA—first developed by Rohm and Haas—   PAGE 13


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and made the product a commercial success through its applications in the aviation industry. Following World War II, INEOS was forced to seek new applications for MMA and PMMA. Today the marketplace abounds with distinctive products including appliances, paint, inks, adhesives, lubricants and textiles. At each of INEOS’ five MMA plants, a side process stream of weak acid is produced. The stream is processed by burning the acid, reconstituting the fresh acid and then reworking it back into the plant as oleum. That oleum is then utilized to create methacrylamide. Each of INEOS’ five plants also houses a sulfuric acid regeneration (SAR) unit that together supply acid to worldwide markets. Company Update In May 2002, INEOS Acrylics changed its name to Lucite International to better align the company with its top brand: Lucite. In 2009, Lucite International was acquired by Mitsubishi Rayon Co. Ltd., creating the world’s largest supplier of MMA. Already a well-known name throughout the Americas, Lucite has a growing presence in Europe and other areas of the world. Over the past 15 years, Lucite International has focused on innovation. The company developed Alpha technology, a new, patented route to MMA based on readily available raw materials including ethylene, methanol and carbon monoxide. The first Alpha plant, a 120,000 metric tons per year facility in Singapore, became fully operational in 2007. Plans are in the works for two more Alpha sites. Lucite International was also the first MMA producer to successfully adopt a three-year overhaul cycle, which continues to release additional capacity from existing assets. Lucite International’s focus on novel research into catalysis and new processes has won the company several awards, including the 2009 Kirkpatrick Chemical Engineering Award and the Chemical Industry Association (CIA) 2009 Innovation Award.

J.R. Simplot Co. – Don Plant

Fall/Winter 2001 – Vol. 7, No. 2 From humble beginnings in the 1920s to its present status as a major agribusiness, the J.R. Simplot Co. has been an ever-changing reflection of the times and technologies throughout its 80-plus years in business. Company founder J.R. “Jack” Simplot recognized the inevitability of change, and he used that knowledge to grow his one-man operation to a major agribusiness, currently employing over 9,000 people. In the mid-1940s, Simplot’s livelihood was threatened by the diminishing supply of phosphate fertilizer. To ensure a long-term supply for his agribusiness, Simplot founded his flagship fertilizer production facility in Pocatello, Idaho. Soon after the Don Plant went online in 1944, the Simplot name became synonymous with the processing of agricultural assistance products. The Don Plant is joined in its production of fertilizer by two sites state side in central California. An additional facility is operated under the Simplot Canada Ltd. name, headquartered in Brandon, Manitoba. The Simplot family of fertilizer producers expanded PAGE 14

once again in 1992 when Simplot and Farmland Industries created a joint venture known as SF Phosphates Ltd. Co. Whenever the times have been hardest and the markets have been their bleakest, Simplot Co. has relied upon the wisdom of the company founder to guide it through. By enacting a policy of low costs and high assets, Simplot turned his small farming entity into a global enterprise. Company Update The Simplot Company suffered a great loss with the death of founder J.R. Simplot in May 2008. The company has carried on, though, led by four members of the Simplot family who comprise the executive committee of the company’s board of directors. They have continued his tradition of plowing profits back into the enterprise, responsibly advancing J.R. Simplot’s lifelong mission of bringing Earth’s resources to life. From 2002-2005, Simplot paid several fines to the EPA for unreported release of sulfur dioxide at the Don Plant, among other things. Since then, though, the company has redoubled it’s efforts at environmental stewardship. Simplot is one of six major companies to join the Obama Administration in an effort to significantly reduce energy use over the next 10 years. The company has received a number of awards, including the state Earth Day award for environmental work completed in Nevada, and a star award for outstanding safety and health results over the last 5 years. In June 2012, Simplot partnered with two conservation groups in an effort to improve the water quality of the Blackfoot River in Eastern Idaho. The consortium includes J.R. Simplot Company, Monsanto and Agrium/Nu-West Industries, the Idaho Conservation League and Trout Unlimited.

IMC Phosphates

Spring/Summer 2002 – Vol. 8, No. 1 Feeding the world … it may be a noble calling, but it is also a daunting task. But, for the dedicated employees of IMC Phosphates (now Mosaic Co.), it’s all in a day’s work. As the world’s leading supplier of crop nutrients, IMC is at the forefront of an industry that focuses on supplementing the food demands of a growing planet. The focal point of IMC’s business is the phosphate process. Each year IMC generates 8.5 million short tons of concentrated phosphates from approximately 4 million short tons of phosphoric acid. This represents 10 percent of the global capacity, making IMC a mainstay in global markets. In central Florida, the company manages four phosphate mines—Four Corners (the largest mine in the world), Fort Green, Kingsford and Hopewell. The company also operates two chemical process units—one at New Wales and one at South Pierce. The New Wales site is the largest concentrated phosphate plant in the world. New Wales is a vast and complex facility. It is home to five large sulfuric acid plants, three phosphoric acid plants and granular plants. On a typical day the site brings in around 20,000 tons of rock, 4,500 tons of sulfur and 2,400 tons of ammonia. Railcars and trucks

leave the site daily with 13,000 tons of fertilizer and 2,500 tons of animal feed products. The Louisiana leg includes operations at Uncle Sam, Faustina and Taft. Both Faustina and Taft were subject to closures, the later permanently, during major industry downturns. Company Update In 2004, Cargill joined forces with IMC to create Mosaic Co. The new venture provided customers around the globe with a more diversified product mix, including all three of the world’s primary concentrated crop nutrients: phosphate, potash and nitrogen. For more information on Mosaic, see Mosaic Co. Fall/ Winter 2009 - Vol. 15, No. 2 later in this article.

Newmont Mining Corp.

Fall/Winter 2002 – Vol. 8, No. 2 In its 80-plus year history, Newmont Mining Corp. has been a stellar reflection of the company’s clearly stated directive—creating value with every ounce. A global force in the gold industry, Newmont is the world’s largest producer of the precious metal. Newmont operations and assets dot the planet and include five continents, 87 million ounces of long-lived reserves and roughly 94,000 square miles of territory in the world’s best gold districts. Newmont complements its impressive catalog of resources with investments in technology, ensuring the greatest gold recovery rates. Since the first discovery of the colossal Carlin Trend in 1961, Newmont has maintained a strong presence in the Nevada mining territory. The company’s current operations include nine open pit mines, five underground mines and 15 processing facilities. Remaining the leader in gold production requires that Newmont rely on the latest technology for obtaining and refining its product. The company incorporates all of the advanced processes—leaches, oxide mills, flotation plants, autoclaves, roasters and bio-oxidation—to create an impressive ore blend. As an offshoot to the efficient extraction processes, Newmont is left with an extensive waste stream of SO2. As a conscientious member of the community and a dedicated environmental steward, Newmont constructed a sulfuric acid plant at the back end of Mill 6. This highly effective, profit-saving method for re-using Newmont’s waste has also boosted the plant’s profit margin. The company uses the sulfuric acid for cost-saving on site (as part of the cyanide detoxification process) and profit raising off site (as a supplier to other gold producers). Company Update Newmont’s mining operations in Nevada have expanded over the past 20 years. Operations now include 14 open-pit and four underground mines and 14 processing facilities. The properties operate as an integrated unit, and together, they boast the widest variety of processing methods of any gold mining complex in the world. In 2013, Newmont expanded its scope of operations at the Phoenix gold mine, near Battle Mountain. The company began recovering copper from gold-mining Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


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waste rock, leaching the rock with a sulfuric acid solution to dissolve the copper. Roughly one-third of the acid used is currently produced on-site. Production in 2013 was around 5 million pounds of copper, with an estimated annual production rate of 20 million pounds per year for the first five years of full-scale operation. The company also has a long-standing dedication to safety. The Carlin Surface Mine rescue team won the title of 2013 Overall Champion at the National Mine Rescue Championship, the first team from Nevada to do so.

Cargill Phosphate Production

Spring/Summer 2003 – Vol. 9, No. 1 For nearly eight decades, Cargill Phosphate Production has been a familiar face among the Florida phosphate industry—in spirit if not always in name. From a singlebuilding startup in the early 1920s to a global network of facilities in the 21st century, Cargill has endured as both a potent competitor and an aggressive steward of high standards. A successful string of acquisitions and mergers preceded the establishment of the Cargill name in 1985. Today, the company’s Florida operations include seven sites – Riverview (formerly Tikal), Bartow, Green Bay, Mulberry, Fort Meade, South Fort Meade and Hookers Prairie. The company’s mining and plant properties total approximately 90,000 acres. Roughly 1,500 employees ensure Cargill’s spot as a top industry performer. Each of the Cargill facilities functions on a relatively autonomous management policy, while at the same time working toward the greater good of serving all of the company’s clients. Five main products are produced in the Florida network – granular triple super phosphate (GTSP), MAP, DAP, animal feed ingredients (AFI) and hydrofluosilisic acid. A total of 5.7 million tons of finished product is generated per year from these sites. Additionally, a notable number of acid plants—10 in all—are situated throughout Cargill’s Florida Operations. These facilities are a vital aspect of production, generating an average 23,000 tons per day of sulfuric acid. Riverview, Bartow and Green Bay are each home to three separate plants, while Mulberry operates one. In 2002, another Florida operation, Farmland Hydro LP, fell victim to dwindling markets. When the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May, Cargill orchestrated a buy out. The merging of the two operations moved Green Bay into the Cargill family–a mutually beneficial venture for both Cargill and the employees of Farmland. Company Update In 2004, Cargill joined forces with IMC to create The Mosaic Co. The new venture provided customers around the globe with a more diversified product mix, including all three of the world’s primary concentrated crop nutrients: phosphate, potash and nitrogen. For more information on Mosaic, see Mosaic Co. Fall/Winter 2009 – Vol. 15, No. 2 later in this article. In 2011, due to industry forces and changing goals, Cargill and Mosaic decided to split again into two separate companies. Cargill distributed its 64 percent stake in Mosaic to Cargill’s shareholders and debt holders. With earnings of $2.31 billion in 2013, Cargill has Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014

140,000 employees in 65 countries, and is one of the largest private companies in the world.

Agrium Inc.

Fall/Winter 2003 – Vol. 9, No. 2 Take root in the rock. For more than seven decades, that has been the mantra of Agrium Inc. as they supplied farmers the world over with the secret formula for steady vigorous crop growth. The company’s philosophy refers to the crop-boosting nutrients harvested from the mining of North and South America’s rich phosphate reserves. With 14 production facilities in North America and Argentina, Agrium has the capacity to produce, market and distribute approximately 7 million tons of nitrogen, 2 million tons of potash and 1 million tons of phosphate annually. The majority of these products are sold to agricultural customers, with around 20 percent remaining for industrial applications. Agrium’s North American phosphate production is contained at two facilities—Redwater Fertilizer Operations in Alberta, Canada and Conda Phosphate Operations near Soda Springs, Idaho. Redwater annually produces 680,000 tons of MAP and 345,000 tons of P 2O5. Two sulfuric acid units generate more than 3,400 metric tons per day. Conda is home to a single acid plant, designed to generate 1,440 tons per day. The conflux of acid and raw material enables Conda to produce 482,000 tons of phosphate as well as impressive quantities of super phosphoric acid, merchant grade acid, MAP, ammonium phosphate sulfate and DAP annually. To maintain its superior production status, Agrium constantly revitalizes its equipment with technological advances. At Redwater alone, the past year has seen four major capital projects completed including a replaced IPA cooler in both units, a drying acid cooler in the SA-1 unit, a converter project for the SA-1 and a containment project to the sulfuric and sulfur storage area. Company Update Agrium Inc.’s wholly owned subsidiary Nu-West Industries Inc. acquired ownership of certain Astaris assets—including equipment and various mining assets and phosphate rock reserves—at Nu-West’s Conda Idaho phosphate operation in early 2004. The agreement was negotiated as part of Astaris’s decision to cease production of purified phosphoric acid at the Conda facility in October of 2003. The acquisition helped increase Nu-West’s phosphate fertilizer production and extend the life of Agrium’s phosphate rock reserves. Agrium announced in 2011 that it plans to cut sulfur dioxide emissions from its two sulfuric acid units at its Redwater fertilizer plant by roughly a third. The company’s $800,000 project will reduce emissions at the plant by 215 metric tons a year from its current 690 metric tons a year. The company made the announcement in response to a report by the Fort Air Partnership saying the plant had exceeded provincial guidelines on a number of occasions last year. The province’s air quality guidelines are different from the facility’s permitted emissions limits, which have not been violated over

the course of the report’s time frame. Agrium intends to complete the program during scheduled maintenance shutdowns. The company, the third-largest nitrogen producer in the world, also recently announced that it has put on hold a proposed $150 million expansion of its nitrogen operations in Redwater. With many rivals planning to expand nitrogen production in the U.S., Agrium decided the time was not right for them.

U.S. Agri-Chemicals

Spring/Summer 2004 – Vol. 10, No. 1 U.S. Agri-Chemicals is a unique entity in the phosphate industry. Though the company is owned and operated by a governmental arm of the People’s Republic of China (known as Sinochem Corp.), it still reflects the current business management structure of other western enterprises. Sinochem enjoys the stature of being China’s largest importer of fertilizers with more than 60 percent of the Chinese market. The company has an expansive global network of subsidiaries, 72 at last count, that employs more than 9,000 employees. Founded in 1950, USAC’s China-based parent company has been named to the list of the Fortune Global 500 companies for the past 13 years. USAC’s predecessor, Morris Fertilizer, opened its doors in Florida in 1905—at the ground floor of Florida’s phosphate boom. Expansion, joint ventures and acquisition followed USAC into the 21st century, and the company’s holdings grew exponentially. By the dawn of the millennium, USAC had installed facilities to clarify phosphoric acid to ensure DAP quality, negotiated a 20-year extension on a valuable rock supply source, IMC, and modified its Fort Meade Chemical Products complex into a powdered monoammonium plant and a granular MAP plant with an engineered capacity of 325,000 tons per year. From modest beginnings to its current global leadership status, USAC has served as a critical link for farming. Its products have served as the key ingredient to millions of acres of fertile farmland. Company Update USAC shut down its phosphoric acid plant in Fort Meade and its phosphate fertilizer manufacturing plant in Bartow in 2005. The shutdown stemmed from USAC’s agreement to immediate termination of its phosphate rock supply contract with the Mosaic Co. The agreement was USAC’s sole source of phosphate rock. Under the contract, Mosaic supplied 2 million tons of rock annually, which USAC turned into about 1 million tons diammonium phosphate fertilizer at the Bartow plant.

Southern States Chemical; Langeloth Metallurgical; Chevron Hawaii Refinery

Spring/Summer 2005–Vol. 11, No. 1 The stories of these three facilities—Southern States Chemical (SSC), Langeloth Metallurgical Co. and Chevron Hawaii Refinery—demonstrate that   PAGE 15


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maintenance concerns, from monitoring pressure drop and gas emissions to replacing corroded parts and performing shutdowns, are common to all plants, both big and small. Family owned and operated since 1897, Southern States Chemical (SSC) produces sulfuric acid in two locations, Savannah, Ga. and Wilmington, N.C. Each site operates two single-absorption sulfur burning acid plants. At one of the plants, SSC reconstructed a vintage 1969 absorption tower, both shoring up its concrete support and overhauling the tower base. Langeloth Metallurgical Company (LMC) has a long history of producing high quality metallurgical products. The facility has a roasting capacity of 35 million pounds of molybdenum per year from its multiplehearth furnaces used for the conversion (roasting) of molybdenum disulfide concentrates into technical grade molybdenum oxide (tech oxide), which is sold or used as feedstock to produce pure molybdenum oxide or ferromolybdenum. Sulfuric acid is produced at the site using the SO2 generated from the roasting process, such that the acid plant serves to control SO2 emissions. Under new ownership in 1994, the company breathed new life into its 12-year dormant sulfuric acid plant starting with a complete replacement of the cast iron piping using Acid Piping Technology Inc.’s MONDI™ Piping System. Later, in 2001, the company replaced its humidifying tower’s corroded lead lining with El Dorado Metals’ Panel Bond™ liner, easing maintenance and hastening downtime. Chevron Hawaii Refinery, which operates a singleabsorption 90 tpd MECS plant, produces a range of products from gasoline to asphalt. Sulfuric acid is used as a catalyst for making gasoline octane booster and aviation fuel. At the time, maintenance included replacing corroded pump tanks and the associated piping. MECS ZeCor ® Alloy was employed for the pump tanks eliminating the need for brick lining, while combination carbon steel and Alloy 20 was used for the new pipes. Company Update For SSC company update, see Southern States Chemical Spring/Summer 2011–Vol. 17, No. 1 later in this article. For Langeloth Metallurgical company update, see Langeloth Metallurgical Company Fall/Winter 2012 – Vol.18, No. 2 later in this article. For Chevron Hawaii Refinery, new EPA rules beginning in 2015 may make continued production at the plant prohibitive. Business analysts cite EPA rules for the state that will prohibit using fuel oil in power generation, as any fuel that leaves ash when burning will need to be eliminated. Other uses for the plant are under consideration. Despite these circumstances, the company continues to enhance its operation by improving safety and environmental preservation. A scheduled October turnaround that includes replacing the main air blower and drying tower distribution header will help bring the facility into compliance. In the acid plant, Pegasys testing has identified the cause of SO2 slip through the converter, which has lead to improvements in SO2 reliability and the addition of an O2 monitoring point on the operator control board. PAGE 16

Other plans include gas flow distribution modeling to help identify potential gas mixing problems in the combustion chamber, which could be the root cause of a deviation in two O2 analyzer readings. An upgrade of the converter preheater is also on the horizon. The upgrade will include a revamp of the fuel/air control and an installation of a burner management system to promote the safe operation of the furnace.

Rotem Amfert Negev, Israel

Fall/Winter 2005 – Vol. 11, No. 2 Rotem Amfert Negev Ltd., a subsidiary of ICL Fertilizer, operates phosphate mines in the desert of Negev, Israel. As a multinational manufacturing and marketing company, Rotem aids in the delivery of a wide range of fertilizer products to worldwide clientele. The company’s two on-site acid plants provide sulfuric acid for phosphoric acid and fertilizer production. Recently, Rotem focused heavily on improving turnaround time by employing the following upgrades: replacing high silicon cast iron piping with MONDI™ piping, replacing C.S. gas ducts with S.S. ducts, and installing a catalyst screening system from VIP International. Company Update Rotem, working with MECS DuPont, has recently completed several maintenance and upgrade projects to replace old equipment and improve plant availability on their 2,400 MTPD acid plant. In the first phase, performed during a 2011 turnaround, a new, improved superheater was installed and an old steel-lined final absorbing tower was replaced by a new alloy tower. The second phase, planned for 2015, includes the replacement of an old steel-and-brick interpass absorbing tower with a new alloy tower, and the replacement of the sulfur furnace. A new heating system will also be installed, which will enable heating of the sulfur burner and the converter with air heated by superheated steam and pumped by a designated blower. This system will reduce the plant heating time after turnaround, and the new designated blower enables plant operation at partial capacity if the main blower is out of order.

The Mosaic Company

Spring/Summer 2006 – Vol. 12, No. 1 In 2004, two crop nutrient leaders, Cargill Crop Nutrition and IMC Global Inc., merged to form The Mosaic Co., combining some of the greatest tangible assets in the industry. The company’s phosphate-, potash- and nitrogen-based fertilizers augment the food demands of a growing planet by increasing crop yields and producing larger, healthier livestock. Principal phosphate production is handled through multiple facilities in Florida and Louisiana. On the Louisiana side, Mosaic owns three locations: Faustina, Taft and Uncle Sam. Mosaic’s Florida operations include

six mines in central Florida and three processing centers in South Pierce, Bartow and New Wales. Sulfuric acid is paramount to the company’s operations with 20 acid plants in the Mosaic system, six of them HRS units. Since the merger, acid plant managers have been streamlining their maintenance activities by sharing information and best practices across the new company. Louisiana and Florida have completed a number of high-tech turnarounds in recent months. In Louisiana, the company installed an MECS Inc. 98-percent tower in the A-train single-absorption plant. In Florida, converters were replaced at all three facilities in South Pierce, New Wales and Riverview, all with state-of-the-art materials. Company Update For The Mosaic Co. update, see The Mosaic Co. Fall/Winter 2009 - Vol. 15, No. 2 issue later in this article.

Zinifex Limited

Fall/Winter 2006 – Vol. 12, No. 2 Headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, Zinifex has become the dominant global source for zinc and lead metal and associated alloys. A significant portion of Zinifex exports support the growing industrial markets of the AsiaPacific region. Zinifex owns and operates four primary smelting facilities located in Tasmania (Hobart - zinc smelter), South Australia (Port Pirie - lead and zinc smelter), the Netherlands (Budel - zinc smelter) and Tennessee (Clarksville - zinc smelter). The facilities are ideally located to supply global demand. The company’s most significant mining resource is the Century Mine, located in Queensland, and the Rosebery Mine, in Tasmania. Each smelter supplies its own sulfuric acid produced on site. The Hobart smelter has two acid plants that supply the smelting operation with the remaining acid sold to nearby fertilizer plants. The acid produced in Port Pirie’s multi-metal smelter is used internally for zinc and copper processing with the remainder sold to fertilizer and metallurgical plants. The Budel smelter, which processes low-lead Century Minegenerated concentrates, produces both 96-percent and high quality sulfuric acid, the majority of which is sold to nearby customers. Budel also installed the first gas phase NOx destruction process to be incorporated into a sulfuric acid plant. The Clarksville site uses just a small percentage of the acid produced there with the majority sold externally. Company Update In 2007, Zinifex was combined with Umicore (a Belgian materials technology company) to create a new company, Nyrstar, incorporated in Belgium. Since 2009, Nyrstar has been expanding upstream into mining both to secure raw material supply for its smelters and to gain exposure to the more profitable part of the zinc value chain (zinc mining being historically more profitable than zinc smelting). Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


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Last fall, Nyrstar completed a strategic review of its smelting operations and identified investments for multi-metals recovery and overall metals processing. The investment plan consists of approximately 25 projects categorized under debottlenecking smelters, building fuming capacity and minor metals extraction. The expected capital investment for the entire plan is approximately 280 million euro. Initial projections show the projects to be complete by early 2017. The company also performed a pre-feasibility study for the redevelopment of the Port Pirie smelter into an advanced metals recovery and refining facility, which would fundamentally transform the site’s operating and business model. The study has confirmed the technical and environmental capability of the redevelopment. The business case for the project is driven by a substantial increase in free metal, with higher margins expected to be earned on every unit of metal produced through the processing of internal zinc smelter residues. The redevelopment will also increase metals production. The base case project capital investment is estimated at 270 million euro.

CVRD Inco Limited

Spring/Summer 2007 – Vol. 13, No. 1 CVRD Inco Limited, in business for 100 years, is one of Canada’s best-known companies and the number one holder of nickel reserves in the world. The company’s Sudbury operations, located about 240 miles north of Toronto, are the largest fully-integrated mining, milling and smelting and refining complex in Canada. Employing 4,560 people, the facilities produce nickel, copper, precious metals, cobalt, platinum-group metals, sulfuric acid and liquid sulfur dioxide. Beginning in 2003, CVRD Inco launched a threephase fluid bed roaster SO2 abatement project. Phase I of the project took place over 14 days and within this short window, two cold interpass gas exchangers were replaced with a single larger unit, a new SO3 interpass gas cooler was installed in parallel with a cold interpass exchanger, a new final absorbing tower top was added, and several other updates were made. Phases II and III, done concurrently in 2005, included replacement of hot gas and hot interpass gas exchangers with larger units, increased catalyst volume in the converter, and a new IPAT tower top with standing demister candles. Over the years, CVRD Inco’s Sudbury operations have made significant investments to improve environmental performance, including close to $700 million in equipment and technology upgrades designed to drastically reduce sulfur dioxide emissions. Company Update Vale Canada Limited (formerly CVRD Inco Ltd.), owned by Vale S.A. of Brazil (formerly CVRD), has taken steps to offset challenges caused by lower nickel prices, increased mining costs, greater global competition, and tighter environmental controls in Canada. Some of these steps include reducing operating costs by closing unprofitable mines, such as Frood, and investing in Sudbury operations. In Sudbury, the company has increased capital investments to access ore buried deeper underground, Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014

since the easily accessible ore has already been mined. Since 2007, when Vale S.A. bought Inco Ltd., the company has invested over $2.7 billion in local operations. The company has also entered into an agreement with KGHM International to mine the Victoria deposit, containing ore rich in copper, nickel and precious metals. KGHM International will build and operate Victoria as the sole owner of the project and Vale Canada will receive a royalty and off-take on all future production from the project.

Southern Copper Corp.

Fall/Winter 2007 – Vol. 13, No. 2 Southern Copper Corp. (SCC) is one of the largest integrated copper producers worldwide as well as the world’s leading producer of molybdenum, silver and zinc. The company operates four open-pit copper mines—two in Mexico and two in Peru— and five underground mines, all in Mexico. SCC has three metallurgical processing complexes—two in Mexico and one in Peru—to refine the raw copper pulled from its mines. In addition to its mining operations, the company is currently exploring other opportunities in Mexico, Peru and Chile. In early 2007, SCC completed a massive modernization of its smelter in Ilo, Peru. The upgrade was part of a larger commitment under the government’s Environmental Compliance Management Program. Changes made to the smelter were designed to increase the capture of sulfur dioxide from 33 percent to over 92 percent (the required capture rate). The Ilo project was the last of many projects SCC undertook to honor its agreement to bring its operations into compliance. Key to achieving this compliance at the Ilo facility was the addition of a new sulfuric acid plant. The new 3,740 mtpd acid plant consists of a gas cleaning system, the acid unit and a new effluent treatment plant. Company Update To support its investment program, SCC issued a $1.5 billion bond in November 2012. Investor response to the offering was favorable and the company plans to invest about $6 billion over the next four to five years in a number of brownfield and greenfield projects throughout Latin America. A flagship investment is the Mexican Buenavista mine brownfield expansion, which aims to increase production from the current 180,000 metic tons to approximately 495,000 metric tons. Other key growth projects are the Peru Tia Maria greenfield solvent extraction mine and the Peru Toquepala brownfield expansion.

Minara Resources Ltd.

Spring/Summer 2008 – Vol. 14, No. 1 Minara Resources Ltd., one of the top ten nickel producers in the world, operates the Murrin Murrin nickel mine in Perth, Australia. The Murrin Murrin operation centers on the mining and processing of laterite ore for the procurement of nickel and cobalt. Sulfuric acid is used in the leaching process and as such, Minara’s onsite 4,400 tpd sulfuric acid plant is integral to the operation. Steam produced by the acid plant is also used to heat the autoclaves and generate power.

In 2006, the site set an all time record for production with 31,254 tons of nickel and 2,096 tons of cobalt. Industry experts agree that the numbers will remain strong at Murrin Murrin with the site’s plentiful ore supply. Minara performed significant upgrades to its operation during a seven-week shutdown in 2007 in which a $15 million superheater was installed along with many other capital improvements costing nearly $100 million. Company Update In the fall of 2011, the Swiss commodities giant Glencore increased its stake in Minara Resources to over 90 percent, effectively completing the purchase of the company. A heap leach facility is now fully integrated at Murrin Murrin with the existing processing plant allowing for additional recovery of nickel and cobalt from lower grade ores. Operating costs for the heap leach unit are below that of the existing HPAL circuit. The heap leach operation provides a second, low risk, processing stream independent of HPAL delivering an on-going source of revenue. It also delivers increased recovery of nickel and cobalt from mineral resources, reduces CO2 emissions by neutralizing excess acid, and reduces overall consumption of water per ton of metal. The company continues to implement changes to improve energy consumption, decrease water use, and reduce emissions.

Doe Run Peru

Fall/Winter 2008 – Vol. 14, No. 2 Doe Run Peru operates the Cobriza mine and La Oroya metallurgical complex in Peru’s central Andes. The complex produces a large variety of premium metals, which are sold to markets around the globe as well as the internal Peruvian market. The smelter and refineries of La Oroya comprise one of the world’s most technically challenging metallurgical facilities, due to the diversity of technologies and operations functioning in one single location. The complex produces copper, zinc, silver, lead, indium, bismuth, gold, selenium, tellurium and antimony, as well as zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, sulfuric acid, arsenic trioxide, sodium bisulfate, zinc oxide, zinc dust and zinc-silver concentrates. The facilities include three independent yet completely integrated circuits: zinc, copper, lead and a precious metals sub-circuit. Doe Run recently went online with a $50 million lead acid plant to treat sulfur dioxide emissions from the lead circuit. The project is the second of three sulfuric acid plants being constructed under the company’s environmental operating agreement with the Peruvian government. The first sulfuric acid plant, for the zinc circuit, is already in operation with a capacity of 62,000 metric tons per year. A third plant for the copper circuit is also under construction. The gas cleaning section of this plant should be completed by October 2009.   PAGE 17


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Company Update In June 2009, with weak metals prices and insufficient bank credit, production at the Doe Run Peru smelter was halted. The company also suspended its upgrade projects to improve the environment, which suffered from unregulated production for many years prior to Doe Run’s purchase of the facility in 1997. In July 2013, after three years inactivity, the company restarted its zinc-processing circuit. With resumption of the zinc unit, which Doe Run had already updated to meet current environmental standards, there is hope that lead operations will resume soon, since that unit also meets current standards. Peru’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Merino Tafur, looks forward to resolving issues related to copper operations, particularly the pending construction of a sulfuric acid plant for the copper circuit. Tafur said the resumption of the zinc-circuit was achieved through consensus of the management company Right Business, workers at the smelter, and Doe Run Peru’s creditors, who were all interested in resurrecting a vital investment to the economy of La Oroya.

DuPont Clean Technologies

Spring/Summer 2009 – Vol. 15, No. 1 Through the experience and innovation housed in DuPont Clean Technologies, DuPont offers its customers future-focused solutions to reduce the impact it and its green-minded customers have on the environment. From the reduction of sulfur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate emissions to technologies that support the production of clean fuels, DuPont delivers a broad range of clean and green services. The company operates eight sulfuric acid manufacturing facilities in the United States with sites at Delaware City, DE; El Paso, TX; Linden, NJ; Wurtland, KY; North Bend, OH; Richmond, VA; Burnside, LA; and LaPorte, TX. In recent years, DuPont has honed proprietary techniques and acquired new resources to support its sulfur facilities and its efforts in the refining sector. Its integrated environmental solutions roster currently features STRATCO ®, BELCO ® and IsoTherming® technologies as well as capabilities in spent acid regeneration (SAR) and sulfur gas recovery (SGR). One of the world leaders in sulfuric acid alkylation technology, STRATCO ® became part of the DuPont family in 2003. BELCO ®, a leader in air quality control for refineries, was acquired in 2006. The use of on-site sulfur management systems, through spent acid regeneration—sulfur gas recovery (SAR-SGR) is another route for DuPont to meet refinery customers’ need to use higher sulfur crude feed-stocks and reduce sulfur oxide emissions. This high-tech, onsite model allows for a DuPont built, owned, operated and maintained SAR-SGR plant to be constructed either adjacent to or on the site of a refinery. The company’s product offerings are not strictly limited to technological applications. Through its Global Engineered Solutions (GES) group, DuPont is replicating the successful operation of DuPont facilities to consumers around the world. With consulting and onsite services, DuPont Clean Technologies is bringing its PAGE 18

technical and scientific standards of excellence to other companies engaged in sulfuric acid plant operation and maintenance. Everything is trending toward a safer, more environmentally responsible world, and DuPont is poised to lead the field. Company Update DuPont Clean Technologies (part of the DuPont Sustainable Solutions business) continues to lead the way in sulfur management expertise. Today, however, this expertise has expanded beyond the refining industry and into the fertilizer, non-ferrous metals and general chemical industries. With the completion of its acquisition of MECS, Inc. (MECS) of St. Louis, Mo., in 2010, DuPont cemented its market leadership in sulfur by-product conversion. MECS and its offerings fit squarely into the Clean Technologies portfolio, which includes the STRATCO® Alkylation Technology, BELCO® Clean Air Technologies, and IsoTherming® Hydroprocessing Technology. DuPont Clean Technologies is a provider of technology, services and proprietary equipment, combined with solid science, technical and engineering capabilities, that help reduce air pollution emissions and produce cleaner fuels. In March 2014, DuPont was named to FORTUNE magazine’s list of the world’s “Top 50 Most Admired Companies” for the 5th consecutive year. For the 3rd consecutive year, DuPont is the only company in its sector on the list.

Mosaic Co. – Louisiana facility

Fall/Winter 2009 – Vol. 15, No. 2 In the last two years, Mosaic has been improving technology and efficiency at its Uncle Sam facility in Convent, La. The facility produces phosphoric acid, sulfuric acid and hydrofluosilicic acid, a product used in the municipal water treatment industry. The site operates three sulfuric acid plants, which produce about 7,400 tpd of sulfuric acid, 2,800 tpd of phosphoric acid, and 34 tpd of hydrofluosilicic acid. The plants also generate enough steam to provide power to the Uncle Sam complex via two 11-megawatt steam turbine generators. In 2008, the company replaced two aging bricklined absorption towers in its D-Train acid plant with alloy towers. The following year, the A-Train plant received both a new sulfur burner and a new stainless steel converter. Company Update In 2010, the company installed a modular Cansolv SO2 scrubbing system to capture SO2 from sulfuric acid plant tail gas at its Uncle Sam facility. In 2012, the company approved a major energy recovery project at their New Wales complex in Mulberry, Fla. The project will utilize the MECS® HRS to recover 290,000 pounds per hour of steam from waste heat that is currently rejected in cooling towers. The project is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2014. In 2013, Mosaic entered into an agreement with Ma’aden and the Saudi Basic Industries Corp. to participate in integrated phosphate facilities in the

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The approximately $7 billion greenfield project, to be known as the Wa’ad Al Shammal or Northern Promise Phosphate Project, will be built in the northern region of Saudi Arabia.

PCS Phosphate Aurora

Spring/Summer 2010 – Vol. 16, No. 1 The largest sulfuric acid plant in North America was placed into operation by PCS Phosphate Co., Inc., in Aurora, N.C. The 4,500 tpd sulfur burning plant was licensed, designed and built by MECS, Inc., of St. Louis, Mo. PCS Phosphate is a subsidiary of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc., the world’s largest fertilizer company by capacity, producing the three primary crop nutrients—potash, phosphate and nitrogen. PCS Phosphate-Aurora produces a diverse array of products including phosphoric acid, purified acid and phosphate feed. A recent addition is silicon tetrafluoride, which is used in manufacturing computer components and solar panels. The new plant includes the MECS® Heat Recovery System (HRS™), which recovers waste heat from the sulfuric acid process. The facility recovers 95 percent of the heat generated and supplies approximately 700,000 pounds per hour of steam to the turbogenerator and fertilizer complex. The plant was designed to meet or exceed stringent environmental standards and has among the lowest emissions in the industry. Company Update PCS Auroa’s new Plant 7 continues to run extremely well with the a highest on-stream factor and higher-thandesign production rate. PCS Aurora recently installed a new MECS® ZeCor® Acid Cooler and has converted over to MECS® GEAR® Catalyst in Pass 1 in all three of their plants. The company also plans to replace existing mist eliminators with MECS® AutoDrain™ technology in the near future.  

Tenke Fungurume

Fall/Winter 2010 – Vol. 16, No. 2 Tenke Fungurume Mining (TFM), led by a partnership with Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, has invested an initial $1.9 billion in a project to significantly increase copper and cobalt production in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The project is expected to initially produce 250 million pounds of copper and 18 million pounds of cobalt per year. The Tenke Fungurume project is the largest capital investment in the DRC in decades. Freeport-McMoRan is TFM’s major operating partner and 56 percent owner. The remaining partners are Lundin Mining Corporation, which owns 24 percent, and the DRC government at 20 percent. In addition to funding major investments in power, roads and other infrastructure, the project has invested more than $85 million in social and environmental programs. Construction started in late 2006 on open pit and Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


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oxide ore processing facilities and by the end of 2009 was at nameplate capacity, producing 15,000 tpy of cathode copper and more than 8,000 tpy of cobalt in hydroxide. Aker Chemetics’ contributions to Tenke Fungurume resulted in a 600 tpd sulfur-burning acid plant, a 5.5-megawatt co-gen power plant using steam generated from the acid facility and a 180-tpd gaseous sulfur dixoide plant. The acid plant is a double-contact, double absorption (DCDA) acid plant, designed for high sulfuric acid capture. Company Update An expansion of the project to optimize the current plant and increase capacity was substantially completed at the end of 2012. The expanded mill is capable of throughput of 14,000 metric tons of ore per day, and expanded processing facilities will enable the addition of approximately 150 million pounds of copper per year. The expansion project included mill upgrades, additional mining equipment, a new tankhouse and an additional sulfuric acid plant (expected to be completed in 2015). Last fall, the company won an award for its commitment to corporate social responsibility during the second year of the CSR round table event, which took place in Kinshasa, DRC. The award honors Tenke Fungurume Mining’s numerous social and environmental programs.

Southern States Chemical

Spring/Summer 2011 – Vol. 17, No. 1 Just a few miles down the road from Southern States Chemical’s existing Wilmington, N.C. facility, the company constructed a $31 million sulfuric acid plant using equipment harvested from a 35-year-old army plant in Wisconsin. Three towers, two gas heat exchangers, some Lewis acid pumps and structural steel was shipped from Wisconsin to North Carolina. Despite some recycled parts, state-of-the-art technology was a cornerstone for the project, along with heightened environmental stewardship and increased production capacity. The new facility produces roughly three times as much sulfuric acid as Wilmington’s older two units, with fewer emissions. The new plant solidifies Southern States Chemical’s position as the premier industrial producer/supplier of Sulfuric Acid on the East Coast. Besides selling sulfuric acid, the company also sells the by-product of the new unit’s acid production, highpressure steam, to neighboring Invista Wilmington, a synthetic polymer and fiber manufacturer. The steam is delivered via pipeline spanning between the two sites. Company Update Not long after the new acid plant came online, the company powered down its older Wilmington plant to be in compliance with stricter EPA emissions standards. The site went up for sale last fall. The newer Wilmington facility is still in operation. The company won the 2013 CSX Chemical Safety Award, which was presented last spring in Washington, D.C. To qualify for the award, customers must ship more than 600 carloads of hazardous materials during the year without a non-accidental release. Dulany Industries, Southern States Chemical’s parent company, won the bid for the former 1,600-acre Tronox site Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014

in Savannah, Ga. The facility offers deep water access to the Savannah River and includes an operating sulfuric acid plant.

OCP Group

Fall/Winter 2011 – Vol. 17, No.2 Morocco-based Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP) began construction of four new fertilizer plants in the port of Jorf Lasfar for a total investment of about $2.5 billion. Morocco owns approximately two thirds of the world’s reserves of phosphate rock, and the four plants make Morocco the largest supplier of phosphate rock, phosphoric acid, diammonium phosphate (DAP) and monoammonium phosphate (MAP). OCP’s investment is based on expected increases in phosphate demand, driven by rising world population, changing diets and the need to improve agriculture yields in Africa and other developing areas. In addition to the mining, processing and fertilizer producing activities at OCP, the company runs a vast distribution network that moves phosphoric acid and fertilizers to over 50 countries on five continents Sulfuric acid is used to treat phosphate rock to produce phosphoric acid, which in turn leads to the production of simple or triple superphosphate. The superphosphates can be used directly as fertilizer or can be combined with other sources of nitrogen or potassium to produce compound fertilizers. The four new fertilizer plants at Jorf Lasfar are part of a larger industrial investment plan to invest more than $8 billion by 2020. Company Update OCP Group is implementing a multi-billion dollar 2010–2020 investment strategy to modernize its industrial assets and boost its production capacity to meet the growing demand for phosphate-related products. Included in the plan are four new mines, 300 kilometers of slurry pipeline, 10 new integrated fertilizer units at Jorf Lasfar, four units of integrated DAP/MAP production, and two granulation DAP/MAP plants. Thus, as global demand for food grows, OCP states, so will the company’s ability to provide fertilizer to increase agricultural yields, rebuild depleted soils and contribute to global food security. Last August, OCP and DuPont announced the creation of a joint venture to provide consulting and training services to improve the safety, operational and environmental performance of companies in Morocco and other African countries. The joint venture will be named DuPont OCP Operations Consulting, and DuPont and OCP will each hold 50 percent of its share capital.

Freeport-McMoRan

Spring/Summer 2012 – Vol. 18, No.1 In the spring of 2011, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., a leading international metals mining company, opened a 1,550 tpd sulfur-burning sulfuric acid plant at its Safford, Ariz., copper mine. An increase in copper demand spurred the $150 million investment. Sulfuric acid is used for the company’s leaching, solution extraction and electrowinning operations. The creation of the plant provides greater flexibility in securing a more cost effective acid supply.

Operating on four continents, Freeport-McMoRan is at the forefront of supplying the world’s economies with essential metals. It is the largest publicly traded copper producer worldwide, the globe’s largest producer of molybdenum and a significant gold producer. The Safford copper mine was completed in 2008 and was the first new major copper mine to be approved in the U.S. in 30 years. It is an open-pit, zero discharge facility, and one of the most environmentally advanced copper mines ever built. Company Update The company is preparing both to transition its Safford mine from oxide ores to sulfide ores and to upgrade production with a target of delivering 36,000 gpm of leaching solution to the leach pads by the second quarter of 2014. Sulfide ores require less acid in the leaching solution relative to oxide ores, but they also require additional oxygen, longer leach cycle times and other modifications. To increase production and prepare for the sulfide ores, the company will perform significant enhancements to pumping, piping, instrumentation, and several other areas. The second phase of the leach pad at Safford is complete and under operation. This allows for the continued placement of leach ore through the end of mine life.

Langeloth Metallurgical

Fall/Winter 2012 – Vol.18, No. 2 The Langeloth Metallurgical Co. complex, located 25 miles west of Pittsburgh, Pa., is a world-class facility with a long history of producing high quality metallurgical products used mainly in the steel and chemical industries. The 147-acre facility has a roasting capacity of 35 million pounds of molybdenum per year. The facility includes a 240 tpd MECS acid plant to process the SO2 that is generated by the molybdenum roasters into sulfuric acid. Between 2008 and 2011, the company focused on increasing its acid capacity and improving plant reliability by replacing three 35-year old brick-lined towers. The interpass tower, the final tower, and the drying tower were all replaced with MECS ZeCor® high silicon stainless steel alloy towers. The replacements also allowed the company to extend their turnaround cycle to two years. Company Update The ZeCor® stainless steel strong acid towers and piping has extended the Langeloth acid plant’s outage intervals, but in the range of 2.5 to 3 years. The plant has been running 24/7 since the tower replacements were complete in 2012. Sulfate buildups in the strong acid tower section of the plant are no longer a cause of planned or unplanned shutdowns. During its next scheduled major turnaround in May 2015, the facility plans to replace its sulfur burner. The unit has also been operating its rhenium extraction process to remove the rare metal from the weak acid purge stream prior to the acid’s treatment in the Liquid Effluent Treatment plant. Both ammonium perrhenate and pure rhenium metal products are being produced from this process.   PAGE 19


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Acidos y Minerales of Venezuela

Spring/Summer 2013 – Vol. 19, No. 1 Acidos y Minerales of Venezuela (AMV), a small aluminum sulfate manufacturer in southeastern Venezuela, built a sulfuric acid plant on their site with no prior knowledge of acid or acid plants. It took eight years to accomplish, from gaining knowledge, to permissions, to financing to supplies, but the 70 tpd capacity sulfur-burning 3/1 double absorption plant finally came online at the end of 2011. At AMV’s facility, sulfuric acid is used to produce aluminum sulfate, which is used in water purification to potable standards, in the pulp and paper industry and the oil industry. Bringing acid on site enabled AMV to double their aluminum sulfate production, finally satisfying customer demand. Company Update AMV has increased its aluminum sulfate production following demand from the Venezuelan government’s water facilities. The company also continues to supply the demand for sulfuric acid in the eastern part of the country.

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In response to a problem with its liquid sulfur supplier, the company employed its “can-do” spirit once again by building its own sulfur melting facility, which allowed it to continue manufacturing until the refinery resumed production. The company has experienced a reorganization as part of the growing pains of increasing staff from 30 to 105. AMV is also managing the challenges of procuring sufficient currency for the purchase of parts and spares, continuously training new engineers as some leave the company, and inflation, among other factors. However, executives are optimistic about the future as the company looks to expand in areas related to sulfur and sulfuric acid.

Cornerstone Chemical Co.

Fall/Winter 2013 – Vol. 19, No. 2 Cornerstone Chemical Co. operates an 800-acre, continuous process facility located just outside of New Orleans in Waggaman, La. At the site, the company manufactures acrylonitrile, melamine and sulfuric acid, which are used in a variety of everyday applications,

including recreation (CD players, fishing rods), automobiles (tires, headlight lenses, batteries), homes (dishware, countertops, plastic piping), clothing (acrylic fibers), and flame retardants. Sulfuric acid is used in one of the reaction steps during the manufacture of methyl methacrylate (MMA), which is produced at the facility by Evonik Industries AG. In the early 1990s, the sulfuric acid plant was converted to a sulfuric acid regeneration (SAR) unit, allowing the site to recover spent acid from the MMA plant. About one third of the plant’s annual acid capacity of 800,000 tons is consumed on site with the remaining portion sold externally. Cornerstone is working in partnership with Dyno Nobel, who recently broke ground at the Waggaman site on an 800,000 metric ton per year ammonia plant. By the time of the plant’s opening, Cornerstone will have completed six years of maintenance and infrastructure work that will help support the ammonia plant. Company Update Reports indicate that construction of the new ammonia plant, being built on the Waggaman site by Dyno Nobel, is well underway with production still slated to begin in 2016. Excavations for the plant’s foundations have been completed, and nearly 12,000 tons of concrete from previous plant foundations and 29,000 tons of earth have been removed from the brownfield site. q

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


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Twenty years of safety By: Darwin Passman, CSP/HR Safety Director, VIP International

How has safety changed in the past 20 years? Twenty years ago, an emphasis on safety meant having workers compensation insurance and someone to document accidents. The majority of the contractor industry had little or no safety training and traditionally used temporary labor from an employment agency. These employees often had no training, very little work experience and seldom stayed the duration of the job. In the early 1990s, safety councils found their way into the large industrial areas of Baton Rouge, La., and Houston. These sites were the result of local area petrochemical facilities coming together and identifying the need for a more consistently trained workforce. The safety councils were commissioned to provide basic safety training skills to the surrounding work force, teaching them to work safely in a plant environment. The basic orientation began as a day-and-a-half training program with a written test on each topic, ranging from hand

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014

tool safety to confined space entry. The idea was to give the worker a basic understanding of safety related tasks that occur on a plant site. The orientation touched on many topics but did not provide detailed training on any one topic. The worker was given a card certifying completion of training, which became a requirement for entry into the surrounding facilities. It was apparent to the industry that more detailed, specific topics were needed and the safety councils were the right fit. The councils began providing everything from forklift training to hazardous materials handling. As usual, incidents on sites dictate new training needs. Lock out tag out, confined space, asbestos awareness, atmospheric monitoring, elevated work and electrical safety are just a few of the hot topics identified for additional training. The terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, changed the way the industry looked at safety. Security of sulfuric acid facilities

from a terrorist attack became a top priority. Facilities purchased equipment, implemented procedures and provided specialized training to prevent potential terrorist attacks on their sites. The federal government implemented Maritime Security (MARSEC) and the Transportation Workers Identification Card (TWIC). Independent criminal background checks were implemented for all workers prior to allowing them entry to a petrochemical site. Since then, the sulfuric acid industry has used safety councils to administer their site-specific training, most of which is computer-based training (CBT). Currently, there are 38 safety councils throughout the country that belong to the Association of Reciprocal Safety Councils (ARSC). The ARSC program ensures the same training is provided to all workers regardless of their geographic location. Facilities know that out-of-state workers with ARSC training have received the same training their local work force has. Additionally, the ARSC program allows site-specific training to be transferred to safety councils in another area for employee training prior to travel for a site shutdown. Although safety councils are convenient, all training cannot be attained

through them. It is the responsibility of contract employers to provide performancebased training to their employees, specific to their job tasks. An effective training program requires a methodology to be in place for the work being performed. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are an excellent tool in defining this methodology. With this tool, employees will experience an increase in morale and success at the jobsite, rather than simply meeting minimum OSHA requirements. the figures depict the reduction of fatalities of industrial workers over the past 20 years. If you subscribe to the safety pyramid philosophy of Bird and Germain, for every reduction of an accidental death there are at least 600 fewer unsafe acts that occur in the workplace. That’s a significant reduction over the last 20 years. The future of safety in the sulfuric acid industry is in the hands of the management of each organization. Management must not only commit the resources, it must commit itself to the development, implementation and value of an on-going, ever-changing program. For more information, please contact Darwin Passman of VIP International at (225) 753-8575 or darwin@vipinc.com. q

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Global sulfuric acid market – a twenty year retrospective By: Fiona Boyd, Argus Media edited by Chris Baltimore, Argus Media

1994: Low prices in sulfuric acid and related markets

The first issue of Sulfuric Acid Today appeared at a time of low prices worldwide for sulfuric acid and in key related markets. The benchmark U.S. Gulf/Tampa import price for acid was around $30/ton cost-in-freight (cfr), the U.S. benchmark molten sulfur price was $60/long ton delivered at Tampa, the world price for solid sulfur was around $60 metric ton freight-on-board (fob) Vancouver, diammonium phosphate (DAP) was trading at $175/ton fob Tampa for exports and copper was trading at around $0.85/lb. All were low by historical standards. World trade in sulfuric acid was around 6.5 million tons/year, of which most was short-haul trade within Europe and Asia, and from Canada into the United States. Longhaul sea trade was confined to shipments to the U.S. and Latin America from Europe and Japan. Dominating world trade were three Swiss-based companies. The market leader was Interacid, then part European-owned and part owned by Sumitomo of Japan. Interacid held a strong supply position in Europe and held exclusive export rights from Japan to destinations outside Asia. Boliden Chemtrade (BCT) and Metallgesellschaft (MG) had strong supply positions in Europe because of their origin within base metal majors. All three traders were active in imports to the U.S. and Brazil, and Interacid and BCT were starting to invest in logistics to serve the emerging Chilean market. In North America, the phosphate fertilizer industry was diverse, with 10 companies in the Florida “Bone Valley” region alone producing phosphoric acid and finished products. IMC, Cargill, CF Industries and Agrico were the leading producers. Because of this diversity, Interacid subsidiary SATCO (a joint venture with Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold) invested in sulfuric acid import tanks at Tampa in the late 1980s, with BCT following shortly thereafter. By 1994, acid imports into Tampa were about 650,000 tons/year, compared with up to 1 million tons/year earlier in the decade. It was a notable year on the sulfur side. Freeport’s new Main Pass 299 Frasch mine offshore New Orleans had just reached full production of 5,000 long tons per day, and its Culberson mine in west Texas was also producing over 3,000 long tons per day. Smelter acid production in the United States had been through a period of consolidation in the late 1980s and early 1990s because of low copper prices, leaving Phelps Dodge, Asarco and Magma in the Southwest and Rio Tinto’s Kennecott in Utah as the main producers. Elsewhere, alkylation acid majors DuPont, General Chemical and Rhone-Poulenc were major acid vendors, as was BCT’s Intertrade sulfur-based plant at Copperhill, Tennessee. In eastern Canada, Marsulex and Noranda made most of their combined 1.6 million tons per year export sales by rail into the U.S., Marsulex through its contract with Inco, and Noranda from its own smelters and from those of Falconbridge, in which Noranda was building an ownership position.

1995 – 2007: Prices stable; industry consolidating and restructuring

Fig. 1, taken from the Spring/Summer 2009 issue of Sulfuric Acid Today, shows sulfuric acid prices remained relatively steady all the way from 1994 until early 2007. Acid prices were around $50/ton cfr Tampa for imports, Tampa sulfur was $70/long ton delivered, Vancouver sulfur was $65/ton fob, DAP was trading at $250/ton fob Tampa for exports and copper had risen to about $2.50/lb. Fig. 1

Seaborne trade in acid by 2007 was about 8 million tons, of which over 5 million tons was long-haul. In terms of sources, South Korea had become an important exporter with the opening of two large smelters by LS-Nikko Copper and Korea Zinc, both at Onsan in 1999. By 2007 Korean acid exports rivaled the Japanese. Together they were the largest source of sulfuric acid from smelting, followed by Europe. China had become a key importer of over 2 million tons per year from Japan/South Korea, handled directly by smelter acid producers. This played a significant role in stabilizing the global market. It also meant that the United States was no longer a prime target for acid imports. One key reason was the emergence of Chile as the leading importer of long-haul tonnage, importing about 1.4 million tons in 2007 to support copper ore leaching. The leading traders were now Interacid, BCT and a new player – Transammonia (now known as Trammo). With the advent of tonnage from South Korea, Interacid, now wholly-owned by Sumitomo, had been unable to hold on to its exclusive position with regard to exports outside Asia, allowing other traders to secure positions there. That is how Transammonia gained market entry. Meanwhile, since 1998 BCT had been owned out of Canada. German trader MG had virtually exited the international acid market. All three leading traders invested heavily in Chile. Major sulfur trader ICEC also began to be active in the sulfuric acid market as did smelting major Glencore. Meanwhile, this period was one of consolidation and change in U.S. markets. In sulfur, Freeport closed its Culberson, Texas, mine in 1999 and surprisingly its flagship Main Pass 299 mine after less than 10 years of production. These closures were a result of the growth of sulfur produced involuntary through oil refining and natural gas processing combined with the low prevailing prices. In phosphates, many years of low profitability came to a head in 2004, when Mosaic was formed as the vehicle by which Cargill acquired the assets of IMC including the former Agrico plants. This left Mosaic as the U.S. market leader, with a dominating position in Central Florida, where only CF Industries in Plant City remained outside its system. One of the consequences of the consolidation was that the need for sulfuric acid imports into Tampa virtually disappeared. The U.S. Gulf coast became the focus instead, with direct imports by Agrifos in Texas and Mississippi Phosphates, complemented by Martin Midstream Partner’s investment in a new import terminal at Beaumont, Texas, in 1999 giving access to industrial markets. Transammonia too became an active importer into the United States. In terms of acid supply within the United States, low copper prices forced the closure of major smelters by Asarco (Texas), BHP Magma (Arizona) and Phelps Dodge (New Mexico), all in 1999. These closures were followed by Marsulex (Tennessee) in 2000 and Asarco (Montana) and Phelps Dodge (New Mexico) by 2002. In Canada, Noranda closed the Gaspe smelter in Quebec. This was also a tumultuous time for the ownership of smelters. In 2004-05, after competitive bidding, mining major Vale of Brazil acquired Inco, and soon Xstrata bought Falconbridge/Noranda, which by then was a single entity. Phelps Dodge had been a bidder in Canada, but was itself soon acquired by Freeport. The impact of all this on acid marketing was less than might have been expected. Chemtrade Logistics had spun off from Marsulex in 2000 and kept the Inco acid marketing contract following the Vale deal. Noranda had been handling all the Falconbridge and Noranda tonnage since the late 1990s. It then entered an ill-fated joint venture on acid marketing with DuPont that was dissolved in 2001, after three years. NorFalco was formed then to take on the acid marketing, and it retained the business after the sale to Xstrata. Total Canadian acid sales by rail to the United States now exceeded 2 million tons/year.

2008-2009: Unprecedented boom and bust

The sulfur price figure (Fig.2), taken from the Spring/Summer 2009 issue of Sulfuric Acid Today, shows the magnitude of the price boom and subsequent collapse that took place from the second half of 2007 until early 2009. The commodity boom driven by demand in China drove DAP prices in China up to a staggering $1,200/ ton cfr by mid-2008. This allowed sulfur prices to rise accordingly, reaching a peak PAGE 22

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


of $800/ton fob Vancouver. The Tampa molten sulfur price reached $600/long ton delivered in the third quarter 2008. The sulfuric acid import price into the U.S. peaked at $440/ton cfr in the same quarter. All these price surges were driven by the need to make more DAP. Copper was trading at over $4/lb. The collapse in an over-heated market was even faster, though. By the first quarter of 2009 Tampa sulfur was $0/long ton delivered and sulfuric acid was landing in the U.S. at below $15/ton cfr for most of 2009. The consequences for the global sulfuric acid market were significant. During the boom, new sources of smelter acid like the west coast of India joined the market. Sulfur-based acid in Europe and even China also became exportable. Most of these new sources disappeared as quickly as they came, but new opportunities were thereby revealed. The key change going forward was that the acid trading community became still more fragmented. ICEC took the opportunity to get involved in exports out of China and increased its acid trade volume. The opportunities in sulfuric were noted by a number of fertilizer traders; several jumped into the market; some of these, like Ameropa and Quantum, are still involved in the business. In North America, the 2009 collapse renewed the push by the oil refining industry to invest in prilling to provide access to the international solid sulfur market as a safety valve at times of weak demand. Similarly in acid, early 2009 was the first time in history eastern Canadian marketers could not guarantee movement of acid from smelters. Due to containment issues, involuntary production cutbacks were imposed on smelters.

acid marketing via NorFalco was not affected. In 2014, Chemtrade Logistics acquired General Chemical and Mosaic agreed to buy CF Industries’ phosphate business. On the production and consumption side, there was a loss of supply in Canada with the closure of Xstrata’s Kid Creek smelter in 2010. Freeport opened a new sulfur-based burner to support copper leaching in Arizona in 2011, increasing sulfur consumption as well as sulfuric acid production in the US. In Texas, Agrifos became a merchant sulfuric acid supplier as it consumed less internally when in 2011 it switched from producing DAP to ammonium sulphate (amsul). Looking ahead, there are new sources of sulfur and sulfuric acid supply planned. New sulfuric acid production is expected from gasification projects in the U.S. Gulf coast region, such as a petcoke project in Louisiana and a lignite coal project in Mississippi. On the sulfur side, new supply will be felt from BP’s Whiting, Indiana, refinery following an expansion there allowing it to run heavier crudes. It remains to be seen, however, if new production of sulfur and sulfuric acid will be absorbed in the domestic market. In the case of sulfur, the increase in production will be met with a loss of demand with the closure of a PCS chemical plant in Florida. Meanwhile, length in the global market will be emerging toward the end of 2014 as new projects come on-stream. As a result, sulfur exports out of the U.S. Gulf Coast are expected to increase to balance the market. On the sulfuric acid side of the market, increased domestic production will either back out offshore imports and affect volumes delivered by rail from Mexico and Canada or see first significant volumes of acid exported from the U.S. Argus Media publishes weekly global reports on sulfur and sulfuric acid as well as reports on fertilizer-related products including nitrogen, ammonia, potash and phosphate. In addition, a North American-focused sulfur and sulfuric acid publication that includes in-depth analysis of the domestic market was launched in September 2013. For more information on Argus and its portfolio of fertilizer publications, please visit www.argusmedia.com/fertilizer. q

2010 and beyond: Market returns to normal Demand for phosphate fertilizers and other commodities improved in the fourth quarter of 2009, which saw prices for products increase going into 2010. Since then the sulfur market has been in a supply deficit which has supported prices. This influenced price ideas in sulfuric acid markets where relative stability has been exhibited since 2010 until recent months. As our article in the Fall/Winter 2013 issue of Sulfuric Acid Today examined, some weakness in both the sulfur and sulfuric acid markets developed during the second half of 2013. Reduced demand for phosphate fertilizer related to India was a catalyst for reduced sulfur consumption. This also reduced demand for spot sulfuric acid to augment sulfur-based production to support phosphoric acid. In both markets, the dip in demand put downward pressure on prices. As 2014 began, sulfur prices were strengthening as phosphate fertilizer producers increased consumption at a time when tight supply prevailed. The sulfuric acid market lagged because of steady but not robust demand for industrial uses. For the balance of 2014, market performance will be dictated in part by fertilizer demand in India. By 2013, global acid trade was stable with players remaining the same—major exporters included Europe, South Korea and Japan. Chile remains the main importer but its import needs are peaking and its requirement will be key moving forward. Since 2010 there have been notable changes in the North American market structure. In 2011, ICEC was acquired by leading petroleum coke marketer Oxbow, and Chemtrade Logistics bought Marsulex, from which it had spun off in 2000. In 2013, Glencore acquired Xstrata, which put several Canadian smelters under new ownership, although Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014

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Fig. 2


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Advancements in sulfur spraying: new hybrid gun and predictive modeling Hydraulic nozzles have long been the standard for spraying molten sulfur, but the benefits of using air atomizing nozzles can be significant. The smaller drops produced by air atomizing nozzles typically improve combustion and eliminate carryover and damage to downstream equipment. Until now, testing guns equipped with air atomizing nozzles required purchasing new guns to equip an entire furnace. A new hybrid sulfur gun has been introduced by Spraying Systems Co. The guns can be easily converted from hydraulic operation with WhirlJet® BA nozzles to air atomizing operation with FloMax® nozzles. In addition,

CFD shows impingement with base of combustion chamber using hydraulic nozzle (left) and no impingement using air atomizing nozzle (right).

the guns can be converted back to hydraulic operation if air atomizing performance doesn’t meet expectations. The hybrid guns offer producers an easy and risk-free way to evaluate air atomizing nozzles in their operations.

Using modeling tools to optimize spray performance and identify potential failures

Hydraulic nozzles can be replaced with air atomizing nozzles on hybrid sulfur guns providing producers with an easy and economical way to compare performance between nozzle types. See animation at www.spray.com/hybridgun.

PAGE 24

Optimizing molten sulfur spraying is dependent on many variables including atomization, drop size, residence time, placement of the gun, furnace baffle locations and operating conditions in the furnace. Many producers are turning to Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling to improve performance. Common studies look at both gun placement to avoid sulfur impingement on walls and drop size to determine the optimal size for complete vaporization

and full combustion. Fluid Structure Interaction (FSI) modeling is also gaining rapid acceptance. One recent study looked at the thermal and structural properties of a sulfur gun and the effect of flow-induced vibrations. The study validated the thermal integrity of the sulfur gun but identified a structural weakness that could result in gun failure. The gun was redesigned to include support collars to counteract the vibrations. More information on sulfur gun technology is available at www.spray.com/hybridgun including the following topics: — Animation of hybrid sulfur gun conversion from hydraulic to air atomizing — Presentation: Optimizing Sulfur Spraying, Sulfuric Acid Roundtable 2013 — Sulfur gun fluid interaction study — Sulfur gun and spray nozzle overview q

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


Department

lessons learned

Case histories from the sulfuric acid industry By: Orlando Perez, OP & Associates – H2SO4 Consultants

Supporting acid pipelines

One of the cost-effective methods used by piping designers to support pipelines is to weld a dummy pipe on elbows to provide vertical or horizontal support, as shown in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1: Dummy pipe support on elbow.

This method was used in a carbon steel acid pipeline to transport 99.2 percent acid to a refinery customer’s storage tank located a couple of miles from the acid plant. The pipeline is supported on pipe racks together with other pipelines that run along the roadway. A routine pipeline inspection revealed a leak that was emanating from one of the dummy pipes that was welded to elbows. The pipeline was evacuated to perform a closer inspection and repairs. Removal of the dummy pipe revealed a slit on the elbow, as shown in Fig. 2. The elbow had suffered erosion-corrosion from acid flow, as shown in Fig. 3.

pipelines; acid velocity guideline in open literature is only for straight pipes.

Spitting plant stack

The plant stack normally functions without any trouble in a properly operated and maintained acid plant. It is designed as tall as possible to disperse any residual SO2, SO3, acid mist and NOx to the environment to minimize the impact on nearby communities. Like any acid plant equipment, proper maintenance is necessary for trouble-free operation, such as washing the stack to remove sulfates that may have absorbed moisture during a prolonged turnaround (especially in high humidity regions), checking for holes (especially at the bottom of the stack) that may have formed over years of operation, etc.

Fig. 3: Erosion-corrosion on elbow.

In a particular acid plant in North America, the vent line from decommissioned equipment that was still hooked up to the stack was removed in preparation for demolition of the abandoned equipment. The removal process looked innocuous enough, so a

Fig. 2: Slit on elbow. Note the dummy pipe support outline on elbow.

Lesson learned Never support acid pipelines with dummy pipes on elbows. While this method may be acceptable for non-corrosive/erosive fluids, it is not good practice for acid pipelines. The dummy pipe prevents regular ultrasonic thickness inspections from detecting thinning of the elbows’ critical areas. Consider the effective flow area in elbows when sizing PAGE 26

Fig. 4: Sulfate on asphalt roadway coming from the stack.

process safety review, as part of the management of change (MOC), was never performed. During the course of plant operation after the vent line removal, sulfate started to appear on roadways in the vicinity of the stack. The stack had been spitting! Investigation revealed that the vent nozzle in the stack for the decommissioned equipment was

never blinded off when the vent line was removed. This allowed moisture to draft in, wetting the dry sulfate coating on the stack interior. When enough moisture collects, the sulfate dislodges, gets carried with the gas and spews out of the stack. The sulfate comes back down and lands on nearby equipment, building roofs and automobiles, causing damage to properties. Lesson learned Always perform process safety reviews of equipment changes no matter how innocuous they may appear. Perform regular inspections, especially checking the bottom of the stack for holes that may have resulted from corrosion due to weak acid formation.

SO2 stripper distributor

SO2 strippers are used in metallurgical and spent acid regeneration plants to remove dissolved SO2 in the acid. SO2 gas laden acid is fed to the top of a packed tower and distributed as uniformly as possible across the tower’s cross section using a pipeor trough-type distributor. Ambient air is fed at the bottom of the packed section and as it flows upward in counter-current flow with the acid, dissolved SO2 in the acid is stripped. The air plus acid mist coming out of the packed tower is directed to the inlet of the drying tower; so total removal of moisture in the ambient air is not normally done. The choice of materials for the tower and its internals is critical; improper selection can lead to premature failure. Such is the case for the SO2 stripper in a metallurgical acid plant. The technology provider chose an alloy material that is resistant to the acid concentration and temperature for the distributor. In less than two years, the distributor failed catastrophically, as shown in Fig. 5. Weak acid that formed on the outside surfaces of the distributor during normal

Fig. 5: Corroded SO2 stripper distributor.

operation and downtimes caused corrosion of the alloy material. Lesson learned Always consider the process and all the possible modes of operation for the equipment when choosing materials of construction. Materials that are resistant to the acid concentration and temperature may not necessarily work even for normal operations, let alone upsets or downtime modes.

Water dilution

Water dilution in pump tanks has been and continues to be one of many sources of headaches to many acid plant operators. The corrosion of acid circulation pumps resulting from the failure of the water dilution system has contributed to the reduction of the plant’s overall equipment efficiency (OEE). Corroded acid circulation pumps as shown in Figs. 6 and 7 will result in an unplanned plant shutdown due to an increase in stack SO2/SO3 emissions. Roof corrosion, as shown in Fig. 8, is also a consequence of the water dilution system failure. Common methods of adding water to acid in pump tanks are: a) through a dip pipe that is immersed in the acid bath, b) through a sparger in the runback line from the acid tower to the pump tank that is immersed in the acid bath and c) through a sparger in a mixing tee with a dip pipe that is also immersed in the acid bath. Material selection is critical in all these methods for the longevity of the circulation pump

Fig. 6: Hole in pump discharge pipe. Pump shaft column is also corroded.

Fig. 7: Pump discharge pipe corrosion.

Fig. 8: Stainless steel roof nozzle and pump support beam corrosion.

and other metallic components of a brick-lined pump tank, and is extremely critical to the longevity of alloy pump tanks. Technology providers normally specify PTFE encapsulated carbon steel pipe and solid PTFE tube for water dilution dip pipes. Some end-users have used high-alloy dip pipes as replacements only to find out they don’t fare as well. This is the case of a metallurgical acid plant where the solid PTFE dip pipe was replaced with a high-alloy dip pipe one failure after the other. The high-alloy dip pipe lasted less than three months due to the frequent shutdown of the acid plant.

Fig. 9: Common dilution water dip pipes. PTFE encapsulated carbon steel (left), solid PTFE tube (middle), and Alloy (right).

Fig. 9 shows the failures of water dilution dip pipes. Once the dip pipe fails, water will free-fall on the acid bath and the weak acid mist that is created will corrode the roof and other metallic components of the pump tank. The weak acid layer that is also formed due to improper mixing will corrode the pump discharge pipe and shaft column and any other metallic components that are immersed in the acid bath at the operating liquid levels. We redesigned the dip pipe after careful analysis of the failure mode. A prototype has been in service for over eight years now without problems. Lesson learned Never change material of construction without having full understanding of the failure mode. For more information, please call (604) 428-3300 or email orlando.perez@outlook.com. q

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


Feature

Reviving Ravensthorpe: FQM revitalizes Australian nickel mine By: April Smith

It’s all a matter of perspective. What one person tosses aside another retrieves, believing in its value. Add some specialized know how and ingenuity, and you transform the cast-off into a triumph. This is just the sort of perspective First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FQM) employed when, in 2010, it purchased a decommissioned Australian nickel mine and created the success it is today. The mine, located outside the town of Ravensthorpe in Western Australia, was completed in 2007 and began operation in 2008. But the facility, then owned by BHP Billiton, closed its doors just eight months into its life, due in large part to a significant drop in nickel prices. BHP Billiton kept the decommissioned mine for just over one year, until the opportunity to sell arose in 2010. The opportunity came in the form of FQM, with a different perspective on BHP’s mothballed mine. “We regarded Ravensthorpe mine as an opportunity to diversify by product and geography,” said General Manager Morris Rowe. So in February 2010, FQM purchased the mine, made significant improvements over the next 20 months, and created a much more robust Ravensthorpe. Adding the upgraded facility to FQM’s portfolio has indeed contributed to emerging global recognition for the company. “We are now recognised as an established and growing international mining and metals company operating seven mines that produce copper, nickel, gold, zinc and platinum group metals,” said Rowe. The company was first incorporated in 1983 under the name Xenium Resources. In 1996, it changed its name to First Quantum Minerals Ltd. and acquired the Bwana copper facility in Zambia. This and more recent global scale acquisitions paved the way for FQM to become one of today’s fastest growing copper companies. The company predicts a compound annual growth in copper production of more than 20 percent for at least the next decade. Now, with the addition of Ravensthorpe, Kevitsa in Finland and the growth potential in the Enterprise Nickel project in Zambia, FQM has emerged as a significant nickel producer as well. PAGE 30

In December 2011, FQM successfully returned the Ravensthorpe operation to commercial production after 20 months of modifications and re-commissioning.

Processing at Ravensthorpe

The Ravensthorpe nickel operation produces and sells mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP), which contains about 40 percent nickel and 1.4 percent cobalt on a dry basis. Getting to MHP involves a multi-step process consisting of open pit mining and beneficiation of nickel laterite ore, pressure acid leaching, atmospheric leaching, counter current decantation, precipitation and filtration. Sulfuric acid and its onsite production play an integral role in the process. The acid manufactured at Ravensthorpe’s sulfuric acid plant is used in the leaching process to separate the nickel from the mined ore. In addition, the steam produced as a by-product from sulfur burning is converted to high-pressure superheated steam, which is then used to generate the site’s power as well as the high temperatures required for the leaching process.

The technical challenges

Perspective played a key role in FQM’s evaluation of the technical aspects involved in making Ravensthorpe a success. What seemed like hurdles to some was a chance for FQM to stretch its technical muscle. “Ravensthorpe was attractive because of the technical challenges,” says Plant Manager Barry Wells, “not in spite of them.” Ravensthorpe’s particular mix of circumstances was a perfect match for FQM’s technical know-how and history of

taking on “very complex projects and operating them efficiently,” Wells explains. One key complexity comes courtesy of Mother Nature—the inherent qualities of the laterite ore deposits at the mine. Unlike sulfide mineral ores, laterite ores do not respond well to conventional mineral dressing practices such as flotation, which separates the valuable ore fragments from the remaining ore. “As a result,” says Wells, “laterite processing flow sheets must contend with high volumes of relatively low-grade ore, which, in turn, means higher capital and operating costs.” Also, laterite ores do not typically contain many valuable by-products, such as platinum group metals or copper. This puts more pressure on the operation to be viable on the basis of nickel and cobalt production alone. And FQM was ready to take on that pressure. During the 20 months between its purchase of Ravensthorpe and when the operation came back on line in December of 2011, FQM made the improvements necessary to optimize production. Most of the changes focused on the beginning of the process. “The front-end materials handling did not provide a constant stream of beneficiated ore to the plant for leaching,” explains Wells. As a result, the company installed two new crushing stations, a dewatering plant, two beneficiation ore storage buffer ponds and upgraded many of the transfer points. Other updates included simply reconditioning the plant and its acid process to enable them to perform to specification.

Looking out over the CCDs and the hydrometallurgical section.

A second challenge, also a natural phenomenon of the ore deposits, was variation in ore geochemistry. To this end, FQM developed process models that could anticipate the effect of ore variability and ultimately optimize metal recovery. A free acid predicter for the leaching area ensures the optimal leaching of the nickel while rejecting unwanted impurities such as iron and aluminium.

Production results

So what is the outcome from all these improvements? In 2012, its first year of production under FQM ownership, Ravensthorpe produced a better-than-expected nickel yield of over 32,000 metric tons. Last year, production exceeded 38,000 metric tons. Over the anticipated 30 plus-year life of the mine, the company expects an average yearly production of 28,000 metric tons. On the acid side of the operation, the sulfuric acid plant, though run as high as at 95

percent of its 4,400 metric ton per day capacity, need only run at 85 percent to meet current leaching demands.

Sulfuric acid at Ravensthorpe

Sulfuric acid is “fundamental” to Ravensthorpe’s operation, says Wells. Besides the acid’s use in the leaching process, waste heat from the onsite sulfur burning plant is recovered for multiple purposes: to produce high-pressure steam for nickel leaching and power production, produce hot water for the desalination plant, and to preheat boiler feed water for use in the power plant. Construction of the acid plant was completed in 2007 by Chemetics, then a division of Aker Kvaerner Canada Inc. Tyler Caviglia, Business Development Manager at Chemetics, now owned by Jacobs, recalls the particular circumstances with Ravensthorpe’s acid plant. “Because the plant was so

Birds eye view from the acid plant stack looking over the sulfur melting area, acid storage and converter. Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


and preheat boiler feed water for the power plant.

Protecting people and place

That Ravensthorpe has become a model of productive efficiency is a sidelight to the attention FQM focuses on protecting and developing its workforce. “Providing a safe working environment for all of our employees is our priority,” says Rowe. “The company demonstrates this commitment,” he continues, “through its robust engineering controls, safety management systems and protocols.” The company is also committed to fostering a culture of personal growth, where employees receive on-going training, instruction and support. “People form the backbone of this operation,” Rowe says. “We want to ensure that everyone has the training to perform their job safely, but also that we maintain a culture of trust, so that questions can be raised without fear of reprisal and we are flexible and responsive to change.”

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014

Ravensthorpe also recognizes its role as a corporate neighbor and is “committed to employing as many local and regional staff as possible,” says Rowe. In fact, more than 98 percent of Ravensthorpe’s workforce are local or rotate in from Perth. Being a good corporate neighbor extends to protecting the surrounding community. “Because we are situated among significant vegetation communities,” explains Rowe, “we have buffer zones in place to minimize impact.” The operation also manages an onsite buffer zone that provides a significant barrier between the plant and its neighbors. Preserving the environment for Ravensthorpe also includes operating under strict regulations designed to minimize, monitor and manage all environmental risk. The DCDA acid plant does its bit as well, with its modern converter and exchanger minimizing SO2 and SO3 leaks.

Looking forward

Continuing to employ its vast mining and minerals operating experience, FQM envisions a

Feature

completely integrated into steam, power and desalination operations, reliability was critical,” Caviglia explains. “In fact,” says Caviglia, “key innovative elements of the plant were all focused on achieving maximum reliability, while at the same time minimizing costs.” To that end, Chemetics incorporated radial flow exchangers and a converter with internal superheater and exchanger, which reduced capital, operating and maintenance costs, while offering better reliability. Also installed was a single, no-baffle furnace with steam cooled sulfur guns. The steamcooled guns provided ease of operation because the guns would cool even in the event of a plant trip. The baffle-free furnace afforded improved reliability and lower maintenance costs. In terms of energy recovery from the acid circulate, the installation included very reliable anodically protected Anotrol acid coolers. The acid coolers produced the hot water that provided all the heat necessary to both supply the energy for the desalination plant

First Quantum Minerals’ single train 4,400 metric ton per day sulfur burning acid plant located near the town of Ravensthorpe in Western Australia was constructed by Chemetics in 2007.

bright future for Ravensthorpe. Along with sustaining its culture of safety for people and the environment, plans are in place to improve the heat recovery of the acid plant. “We are going to upgrade the external superheater and economizer,” Wells says, “so that we can achieve optimum heat transfer at high rates.” “We will also continue the acid plant’s rigorous maintenance schedule,” he says, “which includes major outages every two or three years for catalyst screening and

statutory inspections.” FQM saw the potential of the once mothballed Ravensthorpe and leveraged its know-how to revive the operation, reshaping it into the right fit for the company. But vision and knowledge are pieces to the larger puzzle that also includes a willingness to embrace change. “It is important to be responsive to change as we go forward,” says Rowe. “After all, a tree that is unbending is easily broken—only the flexible tree survives.” q

  PAGE 31


Department

PUMP MAINTENANCE

Understanding vibration in vertical chemical pumps By: Marwan Karaki, Project Engineer Manager, Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps

Beginning in the early 1940s, Lewis Pumps (now Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps) built a reputation for reliability and excellence in engineered pumps. Today, the company continues with an industry-respected reputation for rugged equipment specifically engineered for molten sulfur, sulfuric acid and phosphoric acid to meet the needs of refineries and fertilizer plants. We understand that the pump is the heart of every plant. For that reason, Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps works tirelessly to ensure the reliability of its pumps. To better understand issues and concerns with pumps manufactured by Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps, it is important to explore common concerns of the pump system. While the company extensively tests its pumps prior to shipment, many factors can affect the effectiveness of the pump. Such factors may include the type of fluid being pumped temperature of the fluid, pump speed, operation schedule and maintenance/turnaround schedules. Regardless of the industry, pumps may experience complications as a result of unintentional vibration. The most common causes of pump vibration can be categorized as either mechanical or hydraulic.

performance can be derived from a poor alignment between the pump and motor. The misalignment of the coupling has no direct effect on the motor efficiency; however, correct alignment will ensure a smooth, efficient transmission of power from the motor to the pump. Misalignment takes place when the centerlines of the pump and the pump shaft are not in line with each other. Misalignment can cause the following symptoms: excessive vibration, increased bearing temperature, and shortened bearing or coupling life.

Cavitation damage to an impeller.

Hydraulic vibration

Mechanical vibration

Pump alignment: It is very important to have all critical pump components aligned properly, particularly the shaft column, discharge pipe, and volute. Before installing a pump and after all pump maintenance, a freedom of rotation test should be performed by suspending the pump vertically and manually turning the shaft to determine if any interference exists. After installation, the forces and moments at the flanged connections should be maintained within allowable margins identified by Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps to eliminate distortions that may cause rubbing of rotating parts where clearances are reduced or even eliminated. Shaft straightness: The pump shaft must be maintained as straight as possible at all time. Straightness must be checked at major overhauls or when the shaft assembly is rebuilt, even if there is no vibration. When mounted between centers in a lathe, the run-out at critical points such as the midpoint of shaft bearing assemblies and the impeller location should be within 0.002 inches TIR. (See your pump manual for more information). Vibration frequency owing to the degree of shaft straightness ranges from one times rotational speed to occasionally two to three times rotational speed. The amplitude is typically 150 percent of radial vibration in the axial plane. Unbalanced impeller: The impeller is a major rotating mass in the pump that, if unbalanced, may result in high vibration. All Lewis® Pumps impellers are dynamically balanced to ISO standard 1,940/I Grade 6.3 or better, depending on customer specifications. Impellers in both sulfur and acid environments may face rough conditions that lead to impeller imbalance. In sulfur environments, a foreign object might hit the impeller at high speed and result in damage that causes imbalance. In an acid environment, an impeller may suffer from uneven areas of erosion or corrosion that result in imbalance and significant pump vibration. Selecting the appropriate material is critical to avoid such situations. In general, the vibration frequency in this instance is equal to the rotational speed. Amplitude is greatest in the radial direction with a magnitude that is proportional to the amount of imbalance. PAGE 32

There are three types of misalignments to look for: • Angular misalignment occurs where the motor is set at an angle to the pump. If both shafts are extended they will cross each other. • Parallel misalignment occurs where the motor and pump shafts are parallel to each other. • Combination misalignment occurs where the pump and motor shaft suffer from an angular and parallel misalignment.

Checking for shaft straightness–a common culprit of pump vibration.

Bearing lubrication: The majority of Lewis® Pumps vertical chemical pumps are supplied with a shielded, double-row ball bearing of maximum capacity design intended to handle the applied hydraulic and mechanical loads properly. It is important to have the bearings replaced with OEM parts and to rigorously follow the pump manufacturer’s lubrication instructions. Proper installation of the bearing to both the shaft and the ball bearing housing is critical. The vibration frequency related to bearings is equal to the rotational speed times the number of rolling elements; and amplitude is proportional to damage and wear of the bearing. In addition, it is well known that amplitude increases with time. Motor/driver: The motor/driver may generate some vibration caused by a worn bearing or imbalanced rotor. If supplying your own motor, it is recommended to run the motor isolated from the pump to determine if there is any vibration caused by the motor. If the motor is purchased new, it is highly recommended to request the routine test that will lead to testing and certification by the motor manufacturer. Baseplates: Vertical pump cover plates and sole plates should be leveled and sufficiently robust. The components should be carefully examined after several years of service since they have the tendency to lose their rigidity and distort, thus contributing to major pump vibration. Misaligned plates prevent the pump from being properly rebuilt and aligned. Pump motor alignment: In some cases, abnormal vibration and mechanical

Cavitation: Cavitation occurs when the NPSHr is greater than the NPSHa. This causes an implosion of vapor bubbles, formed in the liquid being pumped, usually on the low pressure side of the impeller vanes. Cavitation can result in damage to the impeller by removing particles of metal from the surface with explosive force. This causes several problems, including discernible pump vibration. Most of the time, this condition takes place when there is a change in the system characteristics, which alter the pump flow and head conditions for which the pump was originally selected. Hydraulic imbalance: Suction conditions may exist that cause the flow distribution of liquid entering the pump impeller to be uneven. This can result from vortexing, improper clearances under or around the pump’s suction inlet, or gas entrainment. The effect can be much the same as cavitation due to insufficient NPSHa. Vibration monitoring: Vibration monitoring is fairly common today. Accelerometer probes are usually installed on the pump’s upper thrust bearing or on a motor bearing. Measurements in at least two horizontal planes, located 90 degrees apart, and in the vertical plane can be made for vibration amplitude and frequency. A log of these readings can be useful in both helping to discern the beginning of component wear before failure and in identifying and remedying an installation problem. It is perhaps less important to focus on the magnitude and exact frequency of vibration (unless it is extreme) than it is to pay attention to a change in the signature or pattern of the vibration spectrum. Be aware that it is nearly impossible to completely eliminate all pump installation vibration. ANSI/HI-9.6.4-2001 edition, Centrifugal and Vertical Pumps, Vibration Measurement and Allowable Values, provides a guideline for the acceptable level of vibration depending on the pump structure. However, with knowledge of vibration sources, a good maintenance program and installation procedures, and perhaps a monitoring system, pump vibration can be controlled and serious problems avoided. q Reference: Karassik, Igor, Pump Handbook, 2nd edition, copyright 1986, McGraw-Hill Inc.

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


Feature

The Roberts Company highlights accomplishments Since Sulfuric Acid Today began publishing 20 years ago, The Roberts Company has been in the shop and the field supplying high quality, reliable fabrication, construction and plant start-up solutions for our heavy industrial customers in the sulfuric acid industry. In fact, since 1977, we’ve been known for our accurate, quality workmanship and safety record. In 2006 our partnership with PPS Engineers, a fully integrated engineering group, enabled Roberts to begin offering a more complete range of services. With the addition of civil, structural, mechanical, piping, electrical and process engineering services, the company expanded to a onestop-shop making the project process seamless, less time consuming and more cost effective for our customers. Roberts continued to expand its fabrication operations in 2011 by adding another state-of-the art fabrication facility to keep up with increased demand. With railway service and close proximity to a deep water port, the company has taken the necessary steps that will allow it to continue its focus on delivering safe,

PAGE 34

reliable products and services to its customers, regardless of their geographic location. Providing a safe work environment for employees and customers has long been a top priority for Roberts, and in 2013 that focus was recognized by the North Carolina Department of Labor’s Division of Occupational Safety & Health by awarding Roberts the prestigious Carolina STAR. This is the NCDOL’s highest level of safety recognition awarded to companies that have successful safety and health systems in place and are able to effectively control workplace hazards and incidents.

A new identity, same great company

While Roberts has grown, we have remained true to our commitment of working together as a team—a team made up of not only our staff but also our customers—to find solutions for any project. Today, we have unveiled a new name and brand, Roberts and PPS Engineers—Powered by Roberts, that better reflects who we are as a project

solutions group. The company and its staff still embody the same principles that our customers have come to rely on for more than 35 years: a safe, creative solutions company that is competitive and reliable.

Our knowledge base expands

In addition to the new Roberts brand, the company has recently added several new team members including R.M. “Monty” Glover as Chief Operating Officer and T. Jason Dunaway as Executive Vice President. With 30 years of construction, engineering and plant operations experience in a variety of industries, Glover not only brings his knowledge of business sectors currently served by Roberts, but the ability to expand Roberts into new and developing markets. Dunaway’s experience lies in relationship building and resolving complex operations and commercial issues for existing and new customers. “The addition of both Monty and Jason will allow Roberts to continue to expand

our services and reach,” said Chris Bailey, Roberts President and CEO. “Both believe in the Roberts mission of building lasting customer relationships and providing plant services that are cost effective and ontime while achieving the highest industry standards of safety and quality.”

A beneficial partnership

Roberts would like to take a moment to congratulate Sulfuric Acid Today on their 20th Anniversary. Your publication has enabled sulfuric facilities and operators, as well as plant designers, engineers and manufacturers to explore and highlight innovative technologies in the sulfuric acid industry. In addition, your conferences bring everyone in the industry together to participate in panel discussions that result in a beneficial exchange of information useful to all participants. Our company looks forward to the next 20 years and the many accomplishments yet to come in this exciting industry. For more information, please contact Chris Bailey at (252) 355-9331 or visit www.robertscompany.com. q

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


Feature

Restoration technology for polymer concrete By: John Davis, Inside Sales & Marketing Specialist, Sauereisen, Inc.

Polymer concrete is one of the most durable, long-lasting and corrosionresistant materials available for industrial infrastructure. This class of products consists of a matrix composed of heavyduty aggregate and either chemical-resistant resin or cement binder. These castable materials may offer up to five times the physical strength of standard portland-based concrete. Polymer concretes are designed to give superior mechanical properties similar to masonry. Because of chemical resistance throughout the entire thickness, polymer concretes may preclude the necessity of barrier coatings and linings. They offer a one-step approach to solving corrosion and provide superior compressive, flexural and tensile strength. In addition, select fillers enable physical properties such as absorption and freeze-thaw durability to far exceed most inorganic counterparts. Application of polymer concrete offers advantages since the product develops strength rapidly. Most castables in this category set through a catalyzed chemical reaction. This thermo-setting process occurs

within 24-48 hours, primarily. Compared to the 28-day hydration/curing downtime of standard concrete, construction may proceed much more rapidly. When properly specified and installed, polymer concrete provides a solution for some of the most difficult corrosion problems. Understanding the capabilities and limitations of the different fillers and resin systems within the polymer concrete family is important. As technologies evolve, the chemistry of various formulations changes as well. Engineers, architects, maintenance personnel and contractors can create a valueadded solution to their corrosion problems by knowing what to recommend. The wide variety of polymer concrete formulations can make selecting the correct materials a challenge. Ultimately, selecting the right chemistry can translate into substantial cost savings as determined by increased longevity or decreased construction downtime. A few of the more common formulations of polymer concretes include silicates, epoxies, calcium-aluminates and vinyl esters. Sauereisen, Inc. of Pittsburgh specializes in corrosion resistant materials and produces

Above: Tank pad & pump base poured with polymer concrete Right: Concrete pad rehabilitation with polymer concrete around a sulfuric acid tank

a broad selection of polymer concretes to supplement other product lines including refractories, mortars and monolithic barriers of various thickness. For environments subject to the highest temperatures and acid concentrations, potassium silicate polymer concretes provide optimum protection. The silicates can withstand temperature ranges in excess of 14,000F (7600C). This chemistry will also withstand most solvents, oils, acids and acid salts (except hydrofluoric) over a pH range of 0.0 to 7.0. For years, silicate-based refractories have provided thermal insulation and chemical protection for flue gas structures subject to hot, acidic gasses commonly found in coal burning power generation facilities. Recently, polymer concretes have been specified for horizontal applications, such as chimney floors, where greater compressive strength is beneficial compared

to the gunite-applied refractory. In either case, these acid-proof concretes possess resistance to full concentrations of sulfuric acid and up to oleum. Typical applications are construction of sumps, containment pads, dikes, trenches, support columns or bases. One novel installation in South America involved the formation of a potassium silicate polymer concrete “jacket� around the exterior surface of a sulfuric acid drying tower. Epoxy polymer concretes, as a group, offer low permeability and broad chemical resistance. Epoxies exhibit greater bond strength, lower porosity and more broad chemical resistance than inorganic varieties. Typically, compressive strength of epoxies is greater than 10,000 psi. This classification of polymer concretes shows tolerance to a wide spectrum of acids and alkalis over a pH range of 0.0 to 14.0. These products are often Continued on page 50

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Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


Feature

Innovative wet electrostatic precipitator design for acid mist removal By: Hardik Shah, Applications Engineer, Southern Environmental, Inc.

this design is that the water is dripped, not Sulfuric acid mist in the SO2 enriched sprayed, over the membrane. Capillary action off-gas is of concern to the non-ferrous metals of the membrane material, along with an assist industry due to its potential for creating from gravity, spreads the liquid throughout operational problems, such as corrosion, in the membrane, eliminating any splashing or the sulfuric acid manufacturing plant. Acid spraying. The amount of liquid delivered and mist is typically highly corrosive in nature and its resulting thickness can also be controlled submicron in size. Wet electrostatic precipitator to achieve optimum cleaning. Because the (WESP) technology is an excellent choice for liquid film is also the collecting surface (i.e. its removal, as a WESP uses liquid to remove it conducts electricity), the the collected acid mist and membranes can be made the particulate from its from corrosion resistant, collection surfaces. This nonconductive materials makes any re-entrainment like polypropylene and problem virtually nonPPS. These materials existent, due to adhesion essentially eliminate the between the liquid and above described dry-spots the collected material. A and corrosion issues, WESP also achieves up to while offering a more several times the typical economical alternative to corona power levels of a metals such as lead and dry precipitator. These two stainless steel alloys. advantages, together, greatly enhance the collection of The membrane WESP is a tubular, Testing and experience submicron particles. Also, up-flow type design consisting of from pilot and commercial scale installations indicate the gas stream temperature two modules in series. that these membranes are is lowered to the saturation excellent as WESP collecting electrodes. temperature before entering the WESP, In 2009, the membrane-design WESP promoting condensation and enhancing the was selected to replace an aging lead-type collection of soluble acid mist. WESP located in a gas cleaning system of In most old-design WESPs, both tubular a molybdenum roasting facility. Here, ore and flat-plate, the collection surface is in the consisting of MoS2 is roasted to remove form of a solid continuous sheet of metal or plastic. A flushing liquid passing over the sulfur. This process oxidizes molybdenum metal or plastic surface tends to bead due to MoO3 and removes sulfur in the form of to both surface tension effects and surface SO2 and SO3 in the off-gas coming out of imperfections. Therefore, the flushing liquid the roasters. The SO2- and SO3-rich flue gas cannot be uniformly distributed over the from the roasters then passes through a gas surface leading to channeling and dry spots. cleaning system mainly consisting of cyclone, The resulting build-up causes corrosion spray cooler, dry ESP, gas saturator, gas of the collecting surfaces, which in turn cooler and WESP. The gas cleaning system causes the precipitator corona power levels removes particulate, moisture and SO3 from and performance to degrade. In non-ferrous the flue gas, leaving SO2 in the gas. This SO2metals plants, this liquid has to be in the form enriched gas is then used to make sulfuric of a highly corrosive weak acid solution to acid in the downstream acid plant. ensure negligible SO2 scrubbing out of gas The membrane WESP is a tubular, up-flow type design consisting of two modules stream during the WESP’s collection surface in series, as shown in the photograph. Testing cleaning. Therefore, WESP components are has indicated that the SO2 enriched gas out of typically made out of corrosion resistant materials. the WESP is optically clear, indicating less To avoid the problem of dry spots, than 30 mg/Nm3 (~8 ppm) acid mist loading. most old-design WESPs employ frequent Most of the components are made out of intermittent spraying to remove the collected fiberglass reinforced plastic with membrane material. However, any spraying into the gas collecting surfaces out of felted polypropylene stream will produce aqueous mist droplets material. The membranes are continuously which are highly conductive in nature. As cleaned using weak acid that has a pH of a result, the WESP’s high voltage electric approximately 0.5. To date, the WESPs are field will have a conductive path to ground, operating with the original membranes and shorting out the field. To avoid this grounding, showing no signs of degradation. called spark over, the field voltage is usually Overall, this innovative WESP design reduced or switched off during intermittent solves historical operating problems associated spraying. This causes frequent downtime of with old-design WESP technologies and is the WESP. ideally suited to replace aging lead type An innovative design of WESP has WESPs in non-ferrous metals plants. been developed in which fabric membranes For more information, please replace metal or plastic collecting electrodes, contact Michael Johnson of Southern solving these problems. A flushing liquid can Environmental, Inc. at (850) 944-4475 or be delivered to the membrane in a number mjohnson@sei-group.com, or visit www. of ways. The most important aspect of southernenvironmental.com. q PAGE 38

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


Feature

NORAM -The best of the past 20 years By: Guy Cooper, Director, Sulfuric Acid Business Group, NORAM Engineering and Constructors Ltd.

NORAM Engineering as a company has grown impressively over the last 20 years. In the sulfuric acid business area NORAM’s evolutionary upgrading of equipment and engineering smarts have resulted in new designs that have helped operators world-wide to improve acid plant performance. As a relative newcomer to the sulfuric acid business, the first plant upgrade studies were done in the early 1990’s in conjunction with Dr. Gordon Cameron. NORAM provided engineering services and Gordon provided the process know-how and design ideas. Gordon had previously worked at CIL Sudbury, Ontario where he co-invented the anodically Protected acid cooler and was recognized as a ‘guru’ in the sulfuric acid industry. As sole proprietor of Cecebe Technologies, Gordon’s unrelenting work led to many innovative designs, patents and improvements in sulfuric acid plants. NORAM and Gordon continued to work together building a client base appreciative of Gordon’s ideas. As a result NORAM and Gordon’s business grew bigger, and in 1995 NORAM acquired Cecebe Technologies and its patents. To date NORAM has performed over 200 engineering studies and provided sulfuric acid plant equipment to over 60 acid plants around the world including two new 2,750 MTPD sulfur burning acid plants in Ambatovy, Madagascar. NORAM’s first equipment component was the radial flow gas exchanger. The patented design results in exchangers where “all the tubes do the work.” The units are smaller, more efficient, offer longer life and result in lower pressure drop than their double and single segmental predecessors. NORAM’s debut acid project was to design the first radial flow CECEBE gas exchangers that went into the largest North American acid plant at the time. It takes skill, and experience to break in your new exchanger design in a 3,400 STPD acid plant. Not only did they work, they worked well. The client, Magma Copper, found that these new radial flow exchangers exceeded expectations with a pressure drop

Radial flow gas exchanger PAGE 40

20-inch WC below specifications. The innovation of the split flow design, a variation of the radial flow gas exchanger, continued to grow NORAM’s business. This patented feature can be used to keep the exchanger cool or hot depending upon the service requirement. For cold or cold IP exchangers, the hot sweep feature directs hot shell gas to the cold end of the exchanger to keep metal temperatures warm and reduce cold end corrosion. The exchanger performs better and lasts longer. The hot sweep in an SO3 cooler reduces or eliminates the recycle flow– result: a more efficient system with a smaller exchanger and smaller air blower. For a preheater exchanger, the cold sweep keeps the hot end cool. Now one can increase the furnace temperatures knowing the metal will be kept cool. The exchanger’s LMTD, or temperature driving force, increases nicely with a cascade of positive effects. The furnace gas flow reduces along with the size of the exchanger, furnace, and blower. The equipment becomes smaller, more efficient, and more reliable. The success of the NORAM radial flow gas exchanger led to NORAM’s business growth in retrofit projects, replacing aging and problematic gas exchangers. One of NORAM’s recent projects was for Phillips 66 in Lake Charles where four of the five gas exchangers were replaced with NORAM radial flow models, as well as replacing the existing converter. To date, there are over 120 NORAM radial flow exchangers installed in plants worldwide ranging in plant capacities from 190 to 3,850 STPD of acid production. Some 20 split flow exchangers have been installed around the world since its inception with more on the way. It is noteworthy to mention that NORAM radial flow gas exchangers have gone into the new twin 2,750 MTPD sulfuric acid plants in Ambatovy, Madagascar. NORAM has spent the last twenty years compiling and perfecting a toolbox of process and mechanical programs and techniques for the design and retrofit of new and existing acid plants. Our clients have provided the best compliments in terms of comparative capabilities. NORAM has developed in-house programs for process simulation and also routinely uses computational fluid dynamics (CFD) when gas flow modeling is important, finite element analysis (FEA) to evaluate mechanical stresses in designs, dynamic simulation to better understand and control process fluctuations, and flexibility analysis to ensure proper design and specification for ducting and piping systems, especially expansion joints design. A sulfuric acid plant retrofit requires those special skills to ensure a low cost and reliable upgrade. NORAM implements these tools in the design of all of its equipment. The NORAM acid towers are designed to be safe, reliable, and to perform well. Brick lined towers featuring dished bottom head and dome

packing support offer reliability, durability, and worry-free operation from process upsets. NORAM SX alloy towers do not require brick lining and thus are smaller, lighter and require considerably less time for installation. New towers use NORAM HP™ ceramic saddle packing because of their low-pressure drop and low breakage or ‘no-chips’ benefits. Fewer chips means the packing, acid cooler, and distributor are less likely to plug or foul. For debottlenecking projects, existing towers benefit by repacking with HP™ ceramic saddle packing because of its proven performance in reducing pressure drop by 50 percent compared to standard 3 inch saddle packing or in increasing gas flow through the tower by 25 percent. The NORAM SMART™ acid distributor distributes acid uniformly across the tower cross section, reliably, and with minimum splash. The pipe header system sits above the packing and delivers acid through downcomer tubes slowly and gently into the packing. No splash means less spray and less entrainment. A powerful feature of the SMART™ distributor in new NORAM acid towers is the external cleanout ports which permit easy clean out of the distributor quickly and without having to enter the tower. SX alloy is used for the pipe headers providing a long lasting, corrosion and sulfate resistant service. One of the most up and coming applications for SX alloy is the acid cooler. Customer confidence and acceptance for alloy acid coolers is increasing and NORAM has poised itself to be able to offer this choice to its customers. In 2010 NORAM opened a new office in Gothenburg, Sweden. With it come personnel with over 25 years of individual experience in the design of SX acid equipment. SX alloy’s excellent corrosion resistance eliminates the need for anodic protection providing a very simple, reliable and low maintenance acid cooler design. SX erosion resistance properties allow for

Brick Lined Acid Towers

increased fluid velocity providing for a more compact design and large operating flexibility. The opening of the Swedish office marks NORAM’s entrance into using SX alloy for the design of acid coolers and pump tanks, acid towers and distributors and acid piping. NORAM has realized further success in the growth of its sulfuric acid business with the purchase of Axton fabrication shop located in Delta, B.C., Canada. The shop is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to fabricate many of the equipment items mentioned in this article. It is very adept at fabricating all sorts of alloy products; both large and small. One example is the NORAM converter shown in the photo. NORAM offers an all welded all stainless steel converter using catenary plates for catalyst supports and bed divisions. NORAM uses the catenary design because of its high strength under load and its excellent ability to accommodate thermal expansion. The NORAM converter can also include one or two internal gas exchangers. This proven feature offers big benefits: reduced equipment costs, elimination of hot ducting, simple equipment layout, and low pressure drop performance. In the last 20, years NORAM has grown as a company and also as a provider of sulfuric acid technology. The company staff has increased from five employees to over 100, the majority being professional engineers and designers. The early leadership and technology of Gordon Cameron, the hiring of skilled and experienced professional engineering personnel, the acquisition of a fabrication shop equipped with modern manufacturing and materials handling capabilities and the foresight to recently acquire a specialty materials group in Sweden, have not only grown NORAM’s business in the last 20 years but have assured NORAM’s future growth for the next 20 years.

Congrats to Sulfuric Acid Today

SMART™ SX acid distributor

SX acid cooler

The Sulfuric Acid Today magazine has been an industry leader and a staple of the sulfuric acid industry for twenty years. It has connected and informed acid operators, vendors, users and technology companies around the world, providing an invaluable service to all of its readers. NORAM would like to congratulate publisher Kathy Hayward and the Sulfuric Acid Today team for reaching their twentieth anniversary milestone, and wish them the best for the next twenty years and more! For more information, please contact Guy Cooper, P. Eng., at (604) 696-6910 or email gcooper@noram-eng.com. q Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


Feature

Saving time and money with form-in-place gasket material By: John Czerwinski, Rick Freer, Charlene Jones & Mike Raimer, W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc.

This case study involves sulfuric acid concentrator units at a facility in Texas. The facility incorporates a train of tantalum heat exchangers, fitted originally with graphite one-piece gaskets. Almost complete disassembly of the units was required in order to replace the one-piece gaskets around the exchanger tubes. A further challenge was the difficulty in realigning the numerous tubes for bundle reinsertion. Overall, this process required up to 72 man-hours to complete for each exchanger, comprising a three-man maintenance team’s efforts over three shifts. Looking for a faster, easier solution, the customer turned to Gore. GORE® Gasket Tape is now used in the heat exchangers, saving the plant a significant amount of time, money and trouble. Formed in place, GORE® Gasket Tape simply goes around the tubes for installation, without the need to remove the bundle. Made of 100 percent expanded PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), GORE® Gasket Tape is chemically inert and stands up to the challenge of sulfuric acid. Strong and resistant to creep and cold-flow, the tape also withstands the extremes of thermal cycling in heat exchanger applications. The use of GORE® Gasket Tape has resulted in documented reduced cost and dramatic improvements in productivity at the plant.

heat exchangers. These heat exchangers heat the sulfuric acid using either thermal oil or steam materials of construction because these heat exchangers must be capable of withstanding the highly corrosive nature of sulfuric acid. Glass-lined steel or select exotic metals are often selected depending on the specific application. Given the aggressive operating conditions of these SAC units, heat exchangers are typically of the u-tube or floating header design to allow for both thermal expansion and for access to the shell side of the equipment. Both designs require gaskets to seal the shell’s bolted flanged connection. Gasket selection is critical to ensure reliable and safe operation of the exchanger. Gaskets should be chemically compatible with the process media, capable of generating an initial seal given the available load, and able to maintain the seal at the operating pressure and temperature. Gasket conformability should also be considered to ensure any flange surface irregularities are accommodated.

Adapted from Thermopedia.com

Process and application background

Sulfuric acid is an important product of the chemical industry, and is used in many processes. A common application of sulfuric acid is to remove water from process streams in the sulfonation and nitration of organics. It is frequently used to dry gases such as chlorine, bromine or chloromethane. Sulfuric acid is also used to dehydrate hydrochloric acid, nitric acid or acetic acid. In the course of use, the acid concentration is reduced and, depending on the process, it may also become contaminated with organic substances. In order to recycle and reuse the acid and control the acid’s corrosivity, it is necessary to re-concentrate the acid. Numerous processes have been developed to re-concentrate sulfuric acid and are generally referred to as sulfuric acid concentrators (SAC). Most are operated under vacuum to enhance the separation of water from the sulfuric acid in single or multiple effect evaporators. The units can typically regenerate weak sulfuric acid to medium concentrations of 85 to 90 percent H2SO4 or to high concentrations of 96 to 98 percent H2SO4. Common equipment employed in these SAC processes is one or more shell and tube

Fig. 1: Typical u-tube showing gasket location.

heat

exchanger

Case study

A large chemical processing plant in Texas utilizes sulfuric acid concentration as a key element in their product process to remove water from the proprietary product stream. The facility uses a train of u-tube heat exchangers for this sulfuric acid concentration process. This case study focuses on one exchanger from this train. The heat exchanger has an operating temperature of approximately 205 degrees C / 400 degrees F and an operating pressure of approximately 17 bar / 240 psi. It is used to concentrate the sulfuric acid to above 85 percent by weight. Given these operating conditions, the heat exchanger is made from tantalum. The heat exchanger contains 62 u-tubes and has total dimensions of approximately 2.4 meters (8 feet) long and approximately 686 mm (27 in) around. The end bonnet flanged connection has an inside diameter of 635 mm (25 in) and is secured using 20 UNC 1¼-inch Grade B7 bolts with hardened steel washers. Problem Periodically, the plant needed to open

a flange to perform routine maintenance or to address joint leaks. With each flange opening, replacing the u-tube heat exchanger gasket was cumbersome, expensive, and time consuming. A one-piece, graphite-with-metal gasket was specified by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). To replace such a onepiece gasket, the tube bundle needed to be completely extracted from the shell. For this heat exchanger in particular, the tube bundle extraction required relocation of the entire main body of the equipment. Located on the fifth floor of the plant, the heat exchanger was constructed with very narrow confines making disassembly impossible on-site. As a result, a crane was required to relocate the main body of the heat exchanger before the tube bundle could be removed and the gasket replaced. In addition, this particular u-tube heat exchanger had especially tight tolerances, making tube bundle reinsertion extremely difficult. Any damage to the tantalum heat exchanger was costly to repair. Overall, gasket replacement in each exchanger required up to 72 man-hours to complete, comprising a 3-man maintenance team’s efforts over 3 shifts. The total cost for this maintenance activity was $9,600, which included $7,200 in labor costs and $2,400 in crane rental. This cost does not include production losses due to the 3-day downtime. Solution GORE® Gasket Tape is now used in the heat exchanger, saving the plant a significant amount of time, money, and trouble compared to the prior one-piece gasket. This is possible due to a unique advantage of the GORE® Gasket Tape: Formed in place, the gasket tape simply goes around the tubes for installation, without the need to remove the bundle altogether. The tape also stays in place and withstands sulfuric acid and the temperature extremes of heat exchangers. The plant has used GORE® Gasket Tape successfully since 2006, counting

Fig. 3: Forming GORE® Gasket Tape in place on flange.

Fig. 4: GORE® Gasket Tape can be applied to flange without removing tube bundles.

on its reliable performance and its unique economical installation. Result The use of GORE® Gasket Tape has resulted in reduced cost and dramatic improvements in productivity at the plant. Installed in as little as a half shift, the manhours required have decreased from 72 to 12 for each exchanger. This means that for each installation, the production unit saves $6,000 in man-hours alone. Across a bank of exchangers, those savings add up quickly. In addition, the use of GORE® Gasket Tape has freed up hundreds of man-hours that can be directed to other plant maintenance and operations needs. Additional savings from GORE® Gasket Tape include eliminating the need for a crane to remove the tube bundle–a three-day $2,400 expense per exchanger unit. And, since the GORE® tape can be created on demand for any size flange in nearly any plant application, significant savings in procurement and inventory also result. Expense Per Heat Exchanger

Welded Filled PTFE Gaskets

GORE® Gasket Tape

Installation Time

72 Man Hours

12 Man Hours

Crane Expense

$2,400

$0

Table 1: Comparison of costs.

Other applications for GORE® Gasket Tape Fig. 2: GORE® Gasket Tape.

GORE® Gasket Tape is an excellent solution for sealing any flange larger than 24 inches in diameter. However, GORE® Gasket Tape’s features particularly shine Continued on page 44

PAGE 42

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


Feature

Continued from page 42

when used on large diameter flanges. Gore recommends the use of GORE® Series 500 Gasket Tape for steel flanges and GORE® Series 600 Gasket Tape for glass-lined steel applications. Problems With Large Gaskets

Advantages Using Gasket Tape

Custom fabrication off-site

Customization on-site

Excessive lead time

Eliminate lead time

Difficult to ship and store

Easier to ship and store

Costly inventory

Reduced inventory

Difficult to install

Quick and easy installation

Table 2: Advantages of using GORE® Gasket Tape in large gaskets.

GORE® Series 500 Gasket Tape in large steel applications

A Louisiana plant had historically used large prefabricated one-piece gaskets to seal two towers (Ø 2,769 mm /109 in). These gaskets were constructed off-site by welding filled PTFE sections together. Careful planning and procurement was required by the turnaround schedulers to ensure these gaskets would be available as needed due to a multiple-week lead-time. Shipped flat in a wooden box to protect the gasket, the large, nearly 3,048 mm (10 ft) wide gaskets take up a considerable amount of space at 9.3m² (100 ft²). With concerns about gasket damage, the operators would need to take extra care during transfer to the job site. GORE® Gasket Tape was installed in May 2009. It was readily available from the local supplier, and an

PAGE 44

Fig. 5: Large welded PTFE gasket on shipping support.

operator could easily carry it to the job site to be fitted to the flange within a few minutes. With its strong adhesive, the GORE® Gasket Tape stays reliably in place while the tower head is assembled. The plant no longer needs to have a gasket prefabricated and shipped. No crane operations are required and all concerns of gasket damage are eliminated. Welded Filled PTFE Gaskets

GORE® Gasket Tape

Lead Time

Several weeks

Minutes to hours

Upfront Cost

$4800

$2660

Shipping Cost

$300

< $10

Transport to Site

Crane plus multiple operators

Single Operator

Table 3: Comparison of customer value for both towers.

GORE® Series 600 Gasket Tape in glass-lined steel applications

A large specialty chemical company in the United States washes sulfuric acid from its product using a glass-lined steel

vessel. The 2,000-gallon reactor operates at 120 degrees C (248 degrees F) and 2.4 bar (35 psig) and was traditionally sealed using a PTFE envelope gasket. After years of service, the reactor was re-glassed for $130,000. However, the newly re-glassed surface was severely uneven, with 0.240-inch variances. The PTFE envelope gasket was unable to accommodate such deviation, resulting in noticeable leakage during start-up. The plant was faced with shutting down to once again re-glass the vessel. GORE® Series 600 Gasket Tape was installed to create a custom gasket on-site to address the severe surface variations. By mapping the sealing surface, layers of tape were built-up to match the deviation. With GORE® Series 600 Gasket Tape, the plant was able to start up operations immediately. Total savings of $280,000 were realized by eliminating the need for removing and re-glassing the 2,000-gallon glass-lined steel reactor and by avoiding the associated lost production. GORE® Series 600 Gasket Tape is a form-in-place gasket tape for glass-lined equipment that guards against premature gasket failure. Unlike PTFE envelope gaskets, which consist of PTFE surrounding an insert, GORE® Gasket Tape is 100 percent PTFE. While PTFE envelope gaskets can fail when stress cracks lead to chemical degradation of the filler material, GORE® Gasket Tape will not degrade due to chemical attack, ensuring a tight and long-lasting seal. This unique gasket tape conforms to the imperfections common in glass-lined flange surfaces, while maintaining dimensional stability for superior sealing reliability. For more information, please contact John Czerwinski at (410) 506-7580 or jczerwin@wlgore.com, or visit www. gore.com. q

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


Feature

Structural Preservation Systems uses liquid fluoroelastomer in resealing procedure on sulfur pit Structural Preservation Systems of Deer Park, Texas, collaborates with clients to improve infrastructure by combining specialty construction, repair and maintenance services with proprietary technologies to provide innovative solutions for demanding engineering and construction challenges. A major industrial petrochemical facility in the Gulf Coast needed to reseal their sulfur pit—a Claus sulfur recovery unit—where recovered molten sulfur is stored. The pit is a large, square reinforced-concrete box lined with a steel plate incorporating a refractory liner and a stainless steel partition wall which runs the length of the pit. The roof of the pit is a series of pre-cast reinforced concrete panels, which were sealed with gasket material at each joint location to eliminate vapor emissions to the atmosphere. During maintenance and restoration activities, when the refractory liner is installed overtop of the steel plate, the refractory materials have a high water content and require a specified dry-out period

before the unit can be put into elevatedtemperature service. Unfortunately, during this process the stainless steel partition wall

lifted the precast concrete panels, due to stainless steel expanding 1.5 times more than

concrete and carbon steel (which have very

similar coefficients of thermal expansion). FLUOROELASTOMER SEALANT (PELSEAL® 2690)

GAP WIDTH VARIES (APPROXIMATELY 1/2”)

HIGH TEMPERATURE FOAM BACKER ROD

AREA TO BE PREPPED (1)

AREA TO BE PREPPED (1)(2)

GAP WIDTH VARIES (APPROXIMATELY 1/2”)

GAP WIDTH VARIES (APPROXIMATELY 1/2”)

HIGH TEMPERATURE FOAM BACKER ROD FLUOROELASTOMER SEALANT (PELSEAL® 2690)

FLUOROELASTOMER SEALANT (PELSEAL® 2690)

REINFORCING FABRIC OMITTED FOR CLARITY

AREA TO BE MECHANICALLY PREPPED USING PNEUMATIC NEEDLE SCALER AND/OR GRINDER DEPENDING ON ACCESS

4”

FLUOROELASTOMER COATING (PLV6032) WITH REINFORCED FABRIC

Sealant Detail – Overhead View of Concrete Lid.

The refractory dryout was temporarily suspended. The panels reseated themselves as the pit cooled. However, although the panels were reseated, the previously installed panel joint seals were compromised. Once the damaged seal conditions were evaluated, engineering measures were taken to ensure the panels would not lift during the dryout or operation of the unit. The sulfur pit concrete panel seals had to be redesigned and the new design implemented into the work prior to commissioning. Resealing while the sulfur pit was in service and hot was not a viable option. Structural Preservation Systems discussed the proposed repair procedure with Pelseal Technologies, the leading manufacturer of high performance liquid fluoroelastomer products. Pelseal walked through the problem with Structural and recommended the company’s PLV6032 fluoroelastomer coating and Pelseal 2690, a fluoroelastomer caulk. “We talked about the repair procedure with Bill Ross of Pelseal, who was a big help,” said Structural’s project manager.

Maintain acid purity and control corrosion with anodic protection TORONTO—As acid temperature rises, the corrosion rate of a 93-98 percent sulfuric acid tank increases rapidly, contaminating the acid and decreasing service life. Anodic protection is an economical solution that reduces iron pick-up and extends tank life by minimizing the corrosion rate. For a typical acid tank, an anodic protection system consists of cathode and reference electrode hardware installed through the tank roof (so it does not require tank entry) and an automatic potential controlled rectifier installed adjacent to the vessel. The installation is straightforward and can be done by a local contractor. Unlike expensive applied coatings the system can be installed on acid tanks which are in operation, reducing the need for costly shutdowns. Initially, direct current (DC) is applied to the vessel, moving the corrosion potential of the vessel from the high corrosion region to the passive region where a tenacious film of ox-

PAGE 46

ide forms on the metal surface. After this initial passivation, nominally 5 percent of rated current is required to maintain the passive film. Corrosion Service Company Limited (CSCL) has over 60 years of experience applying Anotection® Anodic Protection systems for acid tanks and piping globally. Anotection® increases the life span of infrastructure and the quality of the acid with respect to iron content, an important criterion for acid purchasers. This makes Anotection® particularly beneficial in the manufacture, storage and transport of acids. Anotection® systems feature complete automatic system operation. Remote monitoring service is available at a low cost to ensure the system operation is optimal, with minimal maintenance requirements. For more information, contact Corrosion Service Co. Ltd. at (416) 630-2600 or e-mail acid@corrosionservice.com q

Sulfur pit with roof panels in need of repair.

Sulfur pit after repair.

The failed joint sealant materials on the topside of the panels were totally removed and then all precast concrete panel joints were mechanically abraded and cleaned. The joint cavities were filled with a high temperature backer rod, leaving an approximate quarter-inch depth from the center of the backer rod to the exterior edge of the joint. The cavity was then filled with Pelseal 2690 sealant. The sealant was installed in two passes, with two smaller adjacent beads to assist in the curing of the material and to help prevent sagging. A secondary seal was applied to the exterior joints. A priming coat of the PLV6032 material was then applied 3-4 inches on each side of the joint, just thick enough to completely cover or wet the substrate. Next, a polyester reinforcing fabric was centered over the joint and installed in the wet material. Then, the PLV6032 was applied to the fabric and tooled-in to completely saturate the fabric. Once the PLV6032 material became tacky, additional coats were applied to smooth in the fabric. Additional amounts of the PLV6032 material were placed on top of the system for a secondary seal. Following the re-sealing of the pit, no leaks were detected during the refractory dryout period or subsequently once the unit was put into operation. For more information, please contact Bill Ross of Pelseal Technologies, LLC, at (215) 245-0581 or email bross@pelseal. com or visit www.pelseal.com. q Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


Feature

Kimre™ mist eliminators for sulfuric acid production Kimre has applied more than 40 years of successful experience building mist eliminators to provide the broadest available range of mist elimination options in sulfuric acid. Based on B-GON® media and enhanced by fiber bed filter technology, Kimre can tackle any sulfuric acid mist removal challenge. B-GON® Mist Eliminators are widely used in the gas cleaning and contact sections of sulfuric acid plants. Metallurgical, oleum producing, sulfur burning and regeneration plants rely on mist eliminators in drying towers, absorption towers, gas cleaning units and tail gas scrubbers to protect the quality of the product acid, protect downstream equipment from corrosion, protect the catalysts and ultimately protect the environment. Kimre offers a complete selection of mist elimination equipment for all sulfuric acid manufacturing applications including both knitted metal and structured B-GON® mesh for drying towers, traditional Brownian diffusion candle mist eliminators for absorption towers, and impaction candles using both traditional fiberglass and knitted mesh media, as well as Kimre B-GON® media. Kimre additionally offers innovative solutions for gas cleaning in metallurgical and regeneration plants as well as mist eliminators for tail gas scrubbers. Available in PFA-TEFLON® and ETFE polymers, as well as other plastics, the B-GON® products can handle any sulfuric acid operation up to temperatures of 400 degrees F. The unique structured design of BGON® mesh, shown in Fig. 1, enables cost competitive designs. For application by product and metallurgical plants, the performance is unmatched. Over the last few years, we have had the good fortune to replace mist eliminators from every other major supplier with resounding success.

Proven applications in sulfuric acid production include: Drying towers B-GON® Mist Eliminators provide extremely long life as replacements for knitted metal mesh. B-GON® candles can be supplied to provide high efficiency mist removal in a convenient cylindrical form. Kimre can also supply traditional metal knitted mesh and co-knit pads and candles. Absorption towers Kimre offers a full range of mist elimination options for absorption towers. High efficiency Brownian diffusion candles provide excellent separation of sub-micron mists. Dual wall concentric candles reduce pressure drop or increase throughput in limited space. Fiberglass, metal knitted mesh and B-GON® impaction candles provide high efficiency mist removal at an economical cost. Feed gas clean-up B-GON® Mist Eliminators are used for a variety of applications in raw gas clean-up operations particularly in combination with the SXF™ Semi Cross Flow technology. The AEROSEP® Multi-Stage Aerosol Separation technology is Kimre’s newest development for sub-micron aerosol removal. Tail gas scrubbing B-GON® Mist Eliminators are proven for optimum mist separation on tail gas scrubbers. Where extremely high efficiency is required, Kimre can provide high efficiency Brownian diffusion candles. Oleum vent scrubbing Kimre’s AEROSEP® Multi-Stage Aerosol Separation System has proven capable of easily removing the sub-micron sulfuric acid mist originating from oleum vapor’s

people on the move Roberts announces new executive vice president WINTERVILLE, N.C. – Roberts (formerly known as The Roberts Co.), with offices in Winterville and Raleigh, recently announced the addition of T. Jason Dunaway as Executive Vice President. Dunaway recently served as Vice President of Operations at CB&I, Power in Georgia and before that was Director and Business Manager for Shaw Group Inc., Power where he had previously served more than two years as a Prime Contract Manager in Charlotte, NC. Jason’s more than 18 yearsexperience in the industry, specifically in the area of internal and external customer relationship management, offers Roberts and their customers a broad and far-reaching T. Jason Dunaway, network of alliances. “Jason’s experience and desire to Roberts Executive build relationships and resolve complex Vice President PAGE 48

Fig. 1: B-GON® mesh.

contact with atmospheric moisture. Kimre, Inc. manufactures the B-GON® Mist Eliminators out of thermoplastics ranging from polypropylene to PFA-Teflon®. This is advantageous over the stainless steel mesh with respect to corrosion resistance. B-GON® Mist Eliminators do not lose their shape from corrosion as stainless steel mesh can. In addition, the product has these advantages: —The unique structure is the most cleanable, reusable material available in the world. —Economics are particularly improved by reusing existing grids in almost all cases. —Available in large pieces, which enable very rapid installation and, where required, quick removal for cleaning and reliable reinstallation. —Able to handle more extreme conditions than other technologies due to wider ranges of fiber diameters. Kimre™ fiber bed mist eliminators can meet the most challenging mist elimination needs in oleum towers, high-temperature absorption towers and standard absorption towers. Using high efficiency fiberglass media, the Kimre™ fiber bed mist eliminators can achieve efficiencies greater than 99.9 percent on particles smaller than 1 micron

operations and commercial issues makes him the right fit for the position of Executive Vice President with Roberts,” stated Monty Glover, Roberts COO. “His focus on customer service is an excellent complement to the existing culture at Roberts, and we are very pleased to have Jason as part of our team.” For more information, visit www.robertscompany.com

Acid Piping Technology appoints Brazil representative ST. LOUIS, MO – Acid Piping Technology Inc. (APT) recently appointed Paulo Costa as their representative in Brazil. Costa will have responsibilities for technical sales and customer service for all of the APT product lines including Mondi™ piping, ceramics, valves and other specialty products. For more information, please contact Paulo Costa, Acid Paulo Costa at +55 11 996101299 or Piping Technology paulocosta2910@gmail.com. q Brazil Representative

Fig. 2: B-GON® candles in cylinder form.

and outlet loading below 15 milligrams per cubic meter. The B-GON® Mist Eliminators combine the best features of knitted mesh and plate-type mist eliminators. The ladder-like structure of the B-GON® mesh causes a change in direction of vapor flow that enhances droplet removal by impaction, interception and centrifugal actions. This structure also produces a cross flow of captured liquid that flushes particulates from the media. The improved drainage of the geometric structure is a big advantage over the knitted mesh pads. Finally, the interlocking structure provides the B-GON® Mist Eliminator with excellent resiliency and resistance to compression or “cold flow” of the media. The monofilaments in the B-GON® structure align approximately 93 percent of the fibers perpendicular to the gas flow for maximum droplet removal efficiency. The conventional knitted types seldom exceed 67 percent. The high number of fibers perpendicular to the gas flow allow for higher removal efficiency per unit of pressure drop, which corresponds to lower energy usage, lower operating costs and immediate results. The main advantages of the B-GON® material is the lower pressure drop per unit of collection efficiency, the improved liquid handling ability and resistance to plugging. When Kimre recommends a B-GON® Mist Eliminator or fiber bed filter to a customer, calculations are run on the various styles of material to optimize the price, performance, life and operating costs of the mist eliminator. The wide variety of styles allows Kimre, Inc. to provide customers with customized solutions for each individual process. For more information about Kimre™ products, please visit www.kimre.com or e-mail sales@kimre.com. q Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


Feature

Combining safety, comfort with GORE® Chemical Splash Fabric

When working with corrosive liquid chemicals, you need to be protected against chemical splashes. The right protective garment assists in reducing worker injury and minimizes the risk for accidental skin contact with chemicals. Choosing protective garments made with GORE® Chemical Splash Fabric provides exceptional liquid splash protection without sacrificing comfort, meaning workers won’t resist wearing them. Garments made from this unique fabric provide the wearer time necessary to exit the area and follow emergency protocols in case of an accidental splash with a dangerous chemical. Clothing made from this outstanding fabric allows the body to ‘breathe,’ sweat can evaporate through the GORE® membrane, providing relief from heat stress. Heat stress can be a serious problem. In some cases, heat stress may be even more dangerous that the chemical itself. To release heat, your body sweats, and when the sweat evaporates your body is cooled. Protective garments made with GORE® Chemical Splash Fabric are breathable, allowing the continual evaporation of sweat, providing relief from heat stress. Because these protective garments are lightweight and comfortable, they can be worn for an entire shift without excessive overheating. The key to the superior performance found in protective garments made with GORE® Chemical Splash Fabric is their ability to be both breathable and provide liquid chemical penetration resistance. When selecting chemical splash protective clothing look for garments that are certified to the NFPA 1992 standard. Durability, tear resistance, water and stain repellency are attributes of high quality manufactured garments. These can be important elements when working with dangerous and life threatening chemicals. Also, choose product made by an experienced manufacturer who has an understanding of the complexity involved in manufacturing protective garments with a commitment to achieving the highest level of quality. For example, special attention is given to areas such as

PAGE 50

seams which are vulnerable to chemical penetration. Garments made with GORE® Chemical Splash Fabric are sewn using GORE® TENARA® Sewing Thread, a specially designed thread which is thermally stable and chemically resistant, preventing seams from failing during a chemical splash incident. Additionally, look for garments featuring seams which are sealed using GORE-SEAM® tape, which provides a robust system against liquid penetration. It’s important that you select a certified NFPA 1992 garment for liquid splash protection. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard sets minimum levels of performance requirements for the garment material, seams, closures and the full garment design. Safety features, such as flame resistance and high-visibility (ANSI 107 and CSA Z-96) are additional options beyond the NFPA standard that can be incorporated where necessary. Before deciding on any protective garment for use in a chemical protection application, it is best to consult a trained safety or industrial hygiene professional. It’s necessary to understand the limitations of garments used for liquid splash protection. For instance, garments made with GORE® Chemical Splash Fabric are not appropriate for use where vapor protection is required. Lac-Mac protective garments made with GORE® Chemical Splash Fabric provide a barrier to several inorganic and organic liquid challenges. If your objective is to reduce potential injuries related to liquid chemical splash, then Lac-Mac garments, along with professional safety training and practices are an excellent choice. Lac-Mac’s extensive experience and knowledge can help guide the selection of the most appropriate protective garment for your specific application. For more than 25 years, Lac-Mac has been manufacturing durable, breathable, chemical splash protective garments that have been used throughout the chemical industry. For information, please contact Lac-Mac at (888) 452-2622 or visit www.lac-mac.com. q

Continued from page 36

categorized as either general purpose epoxy polymer concrete or as a novolac epoxy. The novolac epoxy resin possesses a greater degree of cross-linking than the standard bisphenol-A epoxy. Consequently, the novolac resin system offers an upgrade in properties. Among epoxies, novolac systems will tolerate greater chemical concentrations while exhibiting compressive strength of 16,000 psi. Further up the line of organic polymer concretes is the vinylester family. Novolac vinylesters are specified where certain chemicals such as bleaches or oxidizing solutions are present. Like epoxy-resin based polymer concrete, vinylester polymer concretes can be general purpose grade or a novolac vinylester formulation. Often the temperature environment is a determining factor in selecting one of the organic polymer concretes. Sauereisen’s epoxy, novolac epoxy, vinylester and novolac vinylester polymer concretes resist maximum service temperatures of 200 degrees F, 250 degrees F, 220 degrees F and 350 degrees F, respectively. The materials industry continues to develop new varieties of polymer concrete. Sauereisen reports recent advances in working with calcium aluminate formulations for substrates where thermal shock is a concern and with polyurethane where a higher level of flexibility is desired. In either case, material formulators working in conjunction with installation contractors are able to deliver a material that is easy to apply and durable enough to last a generation. For more information, please visit www. sauereisen.com. q

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


Feature

HRS in a brownfield plant By: Senada Dunjic, Chief Piping Engineer and Nirvan Nuckchedee, Business Development Manager, Sulphur & Emissions Management, Mining & Metallurgy, SNC-Lavalin Inc.

Acid plant performance declines from the day of start-up—unless the plant is properly maintained. It is interesting to see the balance that various operators manage in order to deal with the cash and business objectives they face at any given moment. Nevertheless, a well-maintained plant, with planned upgrades and revamps that align with the plant’s operating lifecycle, will result in the ideal cost per metric ton of acid produced. These major plant upgrades or revamps can make or break the future operating costs of a plant depending on whether they are planned and executed properly. This article outlines some of the challenges and solutions we’ve encountered throughout our revamp and upgrade experiences in various projects. Specifically, we will explore one of the most complex types of projects—the Brownfield—adding new technology to an existing installation. While an experienced team provides the best risk management, some of the other lessons we have learned include: —Ensure a plan for the commissioning of any new additions is developed. —Establish reliable procedures with optimal safety in mind. —Assess retention of existing components and equipment. —Obtain adequate high quality as-built details (drawings, data sheets, makes and models, inspection records, calculation sheets). —Confirm accuracy of information collected. —Investigate, with plant operators and maintenance personnel, any issues encountered both as an input prior to any upgrade as well as during implementation. —Invest in a team that understands well the unique aspects of the site. —Ensure clear understanding of the material supply source and standards the project will use. —Understand all stakeholder capabilities. —Establish tie points as early as possible, and prevent constructability issues from the get-go by engaging the right contractor. —Verify the infrastructure can support both project execution and future state operation. —Assess potential bottlenecks during the installation of the new equipment. By no means is this a comprehensive list, but we believe it provides a good starting point for the management of any upgrade implementation risks. SNC-Lavalin has performed many successful projects in brownfield locations. One of the more challenging examples involves the installation of a Heat Recovery System (HRS) on existing plants. The objective of the HRS is to absorb SO3 from the gas stream and recover the heat from the absorption process as low pressure steam. As many people know, designing and installing a functional HRS system is an interesting technical challenge. Our experiences upgrading with DuPont HRS technology have resulted in a fundamental technological and operational change. The HRS technology requires consistency in PAGE 52

plant operation in terms of gas flow and SO2 concentration and the scope and requirements of such an upgrade are in excess of typical revamp and maintenance work. The system prevents overcooling of gas to avoid acid condensation and corrosion problems, improves steam and energy balance of the plant, and provides a significant return on investment. With challenging global economies and the need to spend money prudently, owners are reluctant to venture into building brand new plants. Revamping their old, but still functioning, plants is frequently the preferred option. HRS provides an opportunity to improve the performance of an existing plant, including its overall thermal efficiency and reduce operating costs. Therefore, it is worthwhile considering adding an HRS to the equation. Furthermore, the option to potentially fund the installation using an off-balance -sheet commercial model makes the investment even more appealing (this opportunity can be covered in a separate discussion).

Brown is the new green

Upgraded engineering adds a breath of fresh air to an aging facility. It is very natural to incur additional repairs, upgrades, replacements and add-ons to the hot work of a facility in production. It is typical that investments in upgrade projects instead of in new greenfields have proven to be advantageous for an asset operator, unless a transformational change is required. Dollar for dollar, investing in an existing facility will lead to the best utilization of existing infrastructure and reduce the per unit cost to produce acid in comparison to a complex greenfield. We’ve helped our clients deploy capital to leverage existing areas and develop an upgraded plant that has a lower total installed cost than a new plant. However, the objective of minimizing disruption to the ongoing plant operation requires an increased focus on safety. Every project, no matter how routine, presents new and different challenges. A few of the challenges we’ve managed in upgrades such as the HRS installation include: —Managing form/fit/function of new boltons to the existing process. —Reviewing new code requirements to ensure design/process/construction compliance. —Ensuring an efficient construction (removal and installation) approach—some areas are complex, have a tortuous path and require expertise to avoid damage and unnecessary delays. —Logistics of getting equipment to site. —Staff and resource safety. —Managing the cost of having material on site in time. —Assessing the ability for existing infrastructure to accommodate new equipment/ construction activities. The most common problem we’ve encountered in upgrading bolt-ons has been obtaining accurate process data from a plant that has been in operation for many years. The

inability to access current as-built drawings, data sheets and inspection records adds to the already long list of difficulties that challenge the most confident of engineers. Actions that asset managers could consider implementing include: —Investing in as-built drawings and document production. —Collecting operating experience findings to ensure that any implementation is a success but also that the final plant eliminates wasted resources. —Working in partnership with a project and process execution team to ensure that the best solution is implemented. To provide the reader with an appreciation for the complexity of HRS installations, a technical introduction is necessary. In a functioning SAP, acid coolers are replaced by the HRS boiler. Instead of rejecting heat in the acid cooler, the boiler removes the heat of absorption as steam (10 barg). Hot gases leaving the first stage of the HRS tower (which replaces the standard IPAT) are cooled in the second stage where the remaining SO3 is absorbed. The gas leaving the HRS tower is the same as it would have been leaving the interpass tower. The new equipment that requires strategic locating consists of a two-stage packed HR tower, horizontal steam boiler, HRS diluter, HRS preheater/heater and pumps (acid circulating, acid drains, and boiler feedwater). Here are a few select examples of HRS implementations, their challenges and how we mitigated them: Project example #1 On one of our brownfield sulfur burning acid plant projects, where HRS was being introduced for the purpose of reducing plant emissions, the typical layout was impossible to fit in a conventional manner. The HRS boiler had to be rotated to enable tube bundle removal. This simple modification caused unusual routing of related piping systems that, in turn, further complicated the structural solutions for the supports. This made it quite challenging to install and required careful construction planning. Given the scenario, the design was still sound and functional. The steam injection that had to be connected to the gas duct at the highest point was particularly difficult to install with the space limitations at the locations where the ducts connected to the tower. This required shortening the platform that was meant to service the injection nozzle. We extended it to the maximum limit and ended up having adequate and unobstructed access that the operators sincerely appreciated. Project example #2 Another HRS example is a plant that needed an increase in steam output for a new TG blower system and existing steam production equipment. This time the HRS required a deaerator with a lot of extra piping in a very small space. This resulted in the boiler having to be elevated much higher than the usual 10m to accommodate the BFW pumps. The heaters were also higher than usual, and all this added to the complexity of the structures, as they needed to be made stronger to handle the heavier loads and seismic component. Piping that collected acid from the diluter, the bot-

MECS® HRS system installed by SNC-Lavalin.

tom of the pump boot and the heaters, had to be sloped toward the pumps. In addition, all drains had to be heat traced and insulated, reducing already tight operating space. With careful planning and implementation of special space saving supports we had come up with an optimal design that satisfied all functional and operating requirements. Project example #3 The most challenging brownfield project to date was the plant with an “HRS-ready” interpass tower, because the existing platforms were attached to the tower, rather than being independently supported from the ground. Adding loads to the aging structures required careful considerations, proper assessments and precise calculations, in order to proceed with engineering. Frequent communication with the owner was a main prerequisite for a successful conclusion. The original as-built drawings did not resemble the actual installation and, thanks to the site visits, we were able to collect accurate data necessary for the detailed engineering. Tie-ins to existing equipment (i.e. a tower) is a matter that often gives “headaches” to the stress engineers due to the difficulty of staying within allowable nozzle loads. This is even more of a challenge when the strength of the nozzle is not the same as originally welded due to a reduction in thickness. Our stress engineers have done wonders in this regard, carefully selecting and positioning supports, as well as coordinating closely with the owner’s structural engineering team. Due again to space constraints, a flow meter’s straight length requirements had to be solved in a non-standard way by introducing a spacesaving elbow mounted annubar. No shortcuts For the successful execution of HRS brownfield projects, effective strategic planning cannot be overlooked. The consequences and cost of such omissions are avoidable. On the other hand, careful planning, in-depth research and designed-in safety measures bring higher energy efficiency, increased capacity, power generating capability, reduction of environmental impact and fast payback for the investment. With proper planning and engineering, a brownfield project that includes HRS can lead to a highly efficient plant, in less time and at lower cost than building new. For more information, please contact Senada Dunjic at 416-252-5315 ext 55593, or visit www.snclavalin.com. q Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


Fe D ea pta urrte ment

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

38th Annual AIChE International Phosphate Fertilizer & Sulfuric Acid Technology Conference slated for June CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla.–Each year for the last 37 years, members of the AIChE Central Florida Section and colleagues from all over the world have gathered in Clearwater Beach, Fla., at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort to share their ideas concerning chemical process technology, specifically the production of phosphoric acid, phosphate fertilizers and sulfuric acid. The two-day conference will be held June 6-7 and will include a sulfuric acid technology workshop on Friday and two concurrent sessions on Saturday pertaining to phosphoric acid and sulfuric acid. This year’s sulfuric acid workshop on June 6 will focus on issues concerning hydrogen gas incidents that have occurred in the sulfuric industry worldwide. The session will highlight topics such as underlying causes, suggestions for mitigation and prevention. Many of these incidents have a common thread. Knowing the potential causes will assist plant operators, maintenance personnel, engineers, and designers to minimize the risks of these incidents. During this workshop, presenters will discuss the events leading to an incident, the effect and the action taken. There will be four to six different incidents that will be presented. The session will include presentations that will be geared toward practicing engineers with various degrees of exposure to the sulfuric acid process, plant operation and

plant maintenance. The workshop’s objective is to assist engineers in evaluating the operation and the maintenance of their plants. It is necessary for engineers involved in plant operations to fully understand the variety of issues that surround these incidents. Following the presentations, there will be a panel discussion providing participants an opportunity to have their questions answered by a distinguished panel of experts in the industry. For more information, please visit the event’s website at www.aiche-cf.org.

Keystone Publishing to host first Equipment Integrity & Reliability Conference & Exhibition 2014 COVINGTON, La.–Keystone Publishing, the publisher of Sulfuric Acid Today magazine, is pleased to announce the company’s newest conference, Equipment Integrity & Reliability Conference & Exhibition 2014, which will take place Oct. 7-8 in New Orleans, La. The Equipment Integrity & Reliability Conference will bring together engineers and inspectors from the oil and gas community including the downstream (chemical, petrochemical and petroleum refining plants), upstream, and midstream sectors. Professionals with responsibility for engineering, maintenance, inspection and reliability should attend the two-day event. The program will consist of informative presentations on topics including HTHA, brittle fracture, fired heater tube life management, fixed equipment vibration, high temperature and creep issues and a range of other

mechanical integrity and reliability issues. In addition to presentations, participants will have the opportunity to visit exhibitions from worldwide vendors displaying the latest technology for integrity and reliability. If you are interested in presenting a paper or exhibiting, please contact Kathy Hayward at (985) 8073868 or send an email to kathy@kathyhayward.com.

10th Chilean Sulfuric Acid Plants Roundtable to be held in November SAN FELIPE, Chile–The organizers are pleased to announce the Tenth Round Table for Sulfuric Acid Plants to be held in Chile from Nov. 16-20. The conference will take place at the Hotel Dreams in Punta Arenas. Operators and maintenance experts, technology providers, plant owners, consultants and engineering firms specializing in sulfuric acid technology will discuss the latest developments in technology, projects, operations and sulfuric acid markets. As usual, delegates from almost all sulfuric acid plants of the Spanish speaking countries in South America will attend and present their projects and operational and maintenance topics during the three days of the sessions. At the same time the technology providers will have a chance to network with their customers and present their new developments and products. Simultaneous English/ Spanish translation will be provided. For information on the hotels, deadlines of presentations and papers, travel details and other relevant topics, please visit www.mesaredondachile.com or email info@holtec.cl. q

Faces & Places

Enjoying MECS DuPont’s dinner cruise held in conjunction with the 2013 Sulphur conference in Miami, Fla., are, from left, David Bailey of Central Maintenance & Welding, Randy Charlot of CF Industries, Josh Every of Mosaic and Joe Dimase of Central Maintenance & Welding.

Egan Godfredsen, left and Dennis Smerchanski of Border Chemical Co., visit with Lene Hansen of Haldor Topsoe A/S at the 2013 Sulphur conference in Miami, Fla.

PAGE 54

Michael Fenton of Chemetics visits with attendees of the 2013 Sulphur Conference in Miami in the company’s exhibition.

Visiting the Kimre exhibition at the 2013 Sulphur conference in Miami, Fla., are, from left, Dr. Amar Shah of Silver Microshield, Stephanie Gornail, Mary Keenan, Daniel Buehring, Chris Pederson, Fred Mueller, Ed Fowler, Marilia Da Silva, Janet Matos and Mukesh Khagram of Evergreen Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

MECS Dupont hosted a dinner cruise aboard the luxury yacht, The Venetian Lady, for their customers attending the 2013 Sulphur conference in Miami, Fla. Enjoying the evening are, from left, Jeannie Branzaru, Chris Winkler, Steve Puricelli, Ken Kershaw and Kirk Schall of MECS DuPont.

Catching up during a hospitality function associated with the 2013 Sulphur conference in Miami, Fla., are, from left, Tom de Groot of Teck Metals Ltd., Orlando Perez of OP & Associates – H2SO4 Consultants, and Ed and Tina Knoll of Acid Piping Technology. Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2014


Profile for Sulfuric Acid Today

Spring Summer 2014  

Published since 1994, Sulfuric Acid Today is a biannual (Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter) trade magazine exclusively covering the sulfuric aci...

Spring Summer 2014  

Published since 1994, Sulfuric Acid Today is a biannual (Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter) trade magazine exclusively covering the sulfuric aci...