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Sulfuric Acid T




www.H 2S0 4Today.com


Spring/Summer 2015

Mosaic’s New Wales Plant: bringing a world-class legacy st into the 21 century Page 7


Global sulfuric acid—supply and demand outlook PAGE 12

Vertical pump sealing options: packing seals vs. mechanical seals PAGE 14

Improving plant performance using state-of-the-art MECS ® catalysts PAGE 24

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


Sulfuric Acid


Sulfuric Acid T




www.H 2S0 4Today.com


Spring/Summer 2015

Mosaic’s New Wales Plant: bringing a world-class legacy into the 21st century Page 7


Vol. 21 No. 1 IN THIS ISSUE > > > >




Covering Maintenance Solutions for the Industry


Address Service Requested

Improving plant performance using state-of-the-art MECS ® catalysts PAGE 24

Keystone Publishing P.O. Box 3502 Covington, LA 70434



Mosaic Co.’s New Wales Plant in Mulberry, Fla. upgrades its five sulfuric acid plants with latest technology.


Spring/Summer 2015

Global sulfuric acid—supply and demand outlook PAGE 12 Vertical pump sealing options: packing seals vs. mechanical seals PAGE 14



Industry Insights News items about the sulfuric acid and related industries

28 Lessons Learned Case histories from the sulfuric acid industry 41 Faces & Places Covering sulfuric acid industry events 42 Calendar of Events Upcoming industry events

Dear Friends, Welcome to the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of Sulfuric Acid Today magazine. We have dedicated ourselves to covering the latest products and technology for those in the industry, and hope you find this issue both helpful and informative. I recently returned from the 10th Chilean Sulfuric Acid Roundtable, organized by Holtec Ltda. Consulting & Technologies in Punta Arenas, Chile. I was struck, as I always am at events like this, by the global nature of our industry. The knowledge base at a global event is often awe-inspiring, as is the willingness of attendees to share that knowledge with each other. As we send this issue to press, I am gearing up for another great information-sharing event, our 2015 Sulfuric Acid Roundtable. This year’s Roundtable will be held March 23-26 at Streamsong Resort in Central Florida. As of press time, we have a record number of producers registered to attend. 105 producers from 45 manufacturing sites and five countries will gather for three days of keynote addresses, panel discussions and presentations, new technology developments and networking opportunities. The event’s 28 co-sponsors from around the globe will also be on hand to answer questions and join in the discussions. I hope to see you there. If you would like more information about the event, please visit www.acidroundtable.com. We hope that this issue of Sulfuric Acid Today will provide you with some innovative technologies or assistance with your profession. In this issue are

Sincerely, Kathy Hayward


PUBLISHED BY Keystone Publishing L.L.C. PUBLISHER Kathy Hayward

several articles regarding the latest technology available to the sulfuric acid industry. Be sure to read such articles as: “Vertical pump sealing options: packing seals vs. mechanical seals” (page 14), “Upgrades to sulfuric acid equipment—an evolutionary tale” (page 16), “Saint-Gobain NorPro ceramic technology provides proven reliability” (page 20), “Improving plant performance using state-of-the-art MECS® catalysts” (page 24), “WESPs prove versatile in acid plant operations” (page 30), “Advancements in sulphur: new hybrid gun and predictive modeling” (page 32) and “Cylindrical superheaters for high temperature and high pressure service” (page 34). I would like to welcome our new and returning Sulfuric Acid Today advertisers, including Acid Piping Technology Inc., Andronaco Industries, Beltran Technologies, CECO Filters, Central Maintenance & Welding, Chemetics Inc., El Dorado Metals Inc., Haldor Topsøe A/S, Kimre, Koch Knight LLC, MECS Inc., NORAM Engineering & Constructors, Optimus, Outotec, Powell Fabrication & Manufacturing, Roberts Company, Saint-Gobain NorPro, Sauereisen, Siemens, Southwest Refractory of Texas, Spraying Systems Co., Southern Environmental Inc., Sulphurnet, VIP International and Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps. We are currently compiling information for our Fall/ Winter 2015 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.


Global sulfuric acid – 2014 in review and outlook

EDITOR April Kabbash


Vertical pump sealing options: packing seals vs. mechanical seals



Upgrades to sulfuric acid equipment—an evolutionary tale


PPE: The final answer to worker protection


Jon Quarles retires from Acid Piping Technology


Saint-Gobain NorPro ceramic technology provides proven reliability


Improving plant performance using state-of-the-art MECS® catalysts


The world’s first “live” observations of sulfuric acid catalysis


Roberts continues to expand offerings


WESPs prove versatile in acid plant applications


Advancements in sulfur spraying: new hybrid gun and predictive modeling


Cylindrical superheaters for high temperature and high pressure service


When secondary containment linings and coatings are primary


Sulphurnet offers complete melting and purification solutions


Matthew J. Thayer joins Koch Knight as vice president of sales and marketing


Industry converges in Chile for tenth sulfuric acid roundtable


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


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Topsøe part of consortium to develop large-scale fertilizer plant in Tanzania

LYNGBY, Denmark—A consortium consisting of Haldor Topsøe A/S, the German company Ferrostaal Industrial Projects GmbH, and the Pakistani industrial enterprise Fauji Fertilizer Company Ltd, is going to develop a large-scale fertilizer complex in Tanzania together with the state-owned Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation. The project is currently the largest investment project in Tanzania with an investment sum of more than $1 billion. The fertilizer complex is expected to be on-stream in 2019/20, producing 1.3 million tonnes of fertilizer per year for both the local and international market. Agriculture in Tanzania will stand to benefit in particular. The sector makes up approximately one third of Tanzania’s gross domestic product, with more than 75 percent of the population working in the agricultural sector. It is expected that 5,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created during the construction and operating period. The consortium is providing support through the entire project development, including financing, technology and product-offtake as well as construction, maintenance and operation of the plant. As part of this, Topsøe’s role will be to deliver license, engineering, hardware and catalysts for the fertilizer plant, which will be located in the South of Tanzania, in the Mt. Wara area, where there are existing port facilities and connections to a future natural gas grid. The consortium emerged as the winner of a tender carried out by the Tanzanian government in 2013 and is currently in exclusive negotiations with gas suppliers regarding the supply of gas for the fertilizer complex. Furthermore, Tanzanian shareholders and off-takers will also play a significant part in the further development and realization of the project. “We believe the plant will leave a positive footprint in Tanzania, enabling the country to monetize its huge gas reserves and in the process create jobs and boost agricultural productivity,” said Bjerne S. Clausen, Chief Executive Officer at Topsøe. “From Topsoe’s perspective, the project is also extremely interesting. Not only does it represent a substantial contract value on its own terms, it also holds the potential of becoming a long term steady source of income due to our planned coownership of the plant.” For more information, please visit www.topsoe.com.

Siemens to supply steam turbine generator units to Kazakhstan ERLANGEN, Germany—Siemens has received an order for the supply of two steam turbine generator units for the Balkhash coal-fired power plant in Kazakhstan. The EPC contractor is a Korean joint venture

consisting of Samsung C&T and Samsung Engineering Co. Ltd. The operator and end customer for the plant is the Balkhash Thermal Power Plant Joint Stock Company. The two turbines will be used primarily for power generation in the plant, although the plant is also designed for cogeneration of heat and power for flexible generation of district heating. Commissioning is scheduled for summer 2019. The Balkhash coal-fired plant is located on the shore of Lake Balkhash, one of the largest lakes in central Asia, in eastern Kazakhstan. Siemens’ scope of supply for the order includes two SST5-6000 steam turbines, each with an electrical generating capacity of 660 megawatts, and two generators of type SGen5-3000W, including control systems and all auxiliary and ancillary systems. This plant is characterized by its particularly high fuel efficiency thanks to co-generation of heat and power. “We are very pleased that Samsung is putting its trust in Siemens. Thanks to our efficient and reliable technology, this project is contributing to sustainable, environmentally friendly generation of power and heat. Erecting a very modern, highly efficient power plant in Kazakhstan with Samsung is a milestone for Siemens,” said Wilfried Ulm, head of the Steam Turbines Business Unit within Siemens Power and Gas. “Thanks to our excellent cooperation with Siemens on the Balkhash Thermal Power Plant project, we are confident that we will successfully execute this project together with our experienced partner,” said YongHoon Hwang from Samsung Joint Venture. More information, please visit www. energy.siemens.com.

Haldor Topsøe signs contract for new fertilizer plant in Slovakia

LYNGBY, Denmark—Topsøe A/S has signed contracts with Technip and Duslo s.a. of Slovakia for a new ammonia plant that will be constructed adjacent to an existing fertilizer complex in Šaľa, a town located 65 kilometers from Bratislava, the capital of the Slovak Republic. As part of the project, Haldor Topsøe will supply licensing and basic engineering as well as proprietary catalyst and equipment for the ammonia plant, while Technip has been awarded the contract to develop EPC for the new plant. The plant is expected to go on-stream in early 2018 and will be designed to meet a daily production capacity of 1,600 MTPD. Consequently, the new plant is set to become an important part of the local economy of Slovakia by providing economic growth as well as a reliable source to downstream urea and ammonium nitrate that can benefit productivity in the agricultural sector. The new ammonia plant will be designed based on the latest proprietary Haldor Topsøe technology, namely the Hal-

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

dor Topsøe Exchange Reformer (HTER) technology that ensures an efficient and reliable conversion of the feedstock, which improves plant economics significantly and minimizes the environmental impact of the plant. From a technical perspective, the HTER consists of a number of catalystfilled tubes installed in a refractory lined shell located in parallel with the main reformer and using the waste heat available from the secondary reformer. In this way the layout not only reduces the size of the main reformer and its natural gas fuel consumption, but also minimizes steam generation from the plant. “The project in Slovakia is unique because it represents the first entirely new ammonia plant to be built in Europe over the last decades,” said Per Bakkerud, group vice president in Topsøe’s Chemical Business Unit. “The ammonia industry is highly competitive and even the slightest changes in performance can impact the bottom line significantly. Improvements in production technology such as HTER are paving the way for improved production economics. This applies to new plants, but is also relevant when it comes to revamps of older plant facilities in Europe. In fact, a revamp with an HTER can enhance capacity in an existing plant up to 25 percent.” Over the past 75 years, Haldor Topsøe has earned a reputation for being a highly trusted supplier to the global ammonia industry. The company’s industry-leading solutions ensure reliable and safe operation with the highest utilization and the lowest possible energy consumption. Topsøe continuously works to optimize its customers’ ammonia production and ensure they achieve the lowest total cost of ownership. From new plants to revamps, the company can help increase capacity and flexibility, both in relation to feedstock and co-production of other chemicals, creating the foundation for optimal day-to-day operation and long-term success. For more information, please visit www.topsoe.com.

Outotec to revamp and upgrade the Potrerillos copper smelter and sulfuric acid plant for Codelco

ESPOO, Finland—Outotec has been awarded a contract to revamp and upgrade the Potrerillos copper smelter and sulfuric acid plant of Codelco Salvador Division in northern Chile, in order to comply with the new Chilean environmental regulations that take effect in 2018. The deal is valued at approximately EUR 64 million, of which one third has been booked in Outotec’s third quarter order intake and the rest in the fourth quarter 2014 order intake. Outotec’s scope of delivery includes detailed engineering of the revamp, equipment supply and technical assistance dur-


INDUSTRY INSIGHTS ing the construction and commissioning and start up of the smelter and acid plant. Equipment deliveries will include, among other things, gas collecting hoods for the existing converters, revamp of the dry electrostatic and wet precipitators and gas ducts, a catalytic converter and an effluent treatment plant with additional water management plant equipment. “This is a good example of how Codelco and Outotec work together, combining their efforts to secure business sustainability and the necessary care of the environment in a profitable way,” says Kimmo Kontola, head of Outotec’s Americas region. “Through advanced technology, we can extend the life cycle of our customers’ facilities. Specialized technical services are always part of a long-term business relationship with our customers, providing added value beyond equipment supply,” says Robin Lindahl, head of Outotec’s Metals, Energy & Water business area. For more information, please visit www.outotec.com.

Solvay sells sulfuric acid supplying Eco Services segment to CCMP Capital Advisors

NEW YORK—CCMP Capital Advisors LLC (CCMP), headquartered in New York, has acquired the sulfuric acid-producing Eco Services business unit of Brussels-based Solvay SA. CCMP said that the Eco Services unit, headquartered in New Jersey, will continue to manufacture fresh, high purity sulfuric acid products. The unit had 2013 revenues of $357.1 million and CCMP has completed its acquisition for $890 million. The sale forms part of Solvay’s strategy to achieve higher growth and greater returns. Headquartered in Cranbury, N.J., the sulfuric acid virgin production and regeneration business recycles spent sulfuric acid and supplies it to refineries in the West Coast, Midwest, the Gulf of Mexico and Canada. The Eco Services company caters to mining, water treatment and other chemical processing segments, from its six manufacturing plants. In July 2014, Solvay and CCMP signed an agreement for the acquisition transaction. “Eco Services has a market-leading position and generates stable cash flows, but its business profile differs from Solvay’s strategic ambitions,” says Solvay CEO Jean-Pierre Clamadieu. “CCMP Capital is committed to working with the management team to make the investments necessary to support the longterm growth of the business.” CCMP is focused on equity investments of about $500 million in North American and European markets, and primarily invests in consumer/retail, industrial, energy and healthcare sectors. For more information, please visit www. solvay.com or www.ccmpcapital.com. q

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

  PAGE 5

Partners, Professionals, Problem-Solvers...Check. When it comes to exceeding the qualifications to perform your plant’s turnaround or outage, CMW tops the list: Safety: CMW’s MOD rate for 2014 is 0.65. Results exhibit the difference between talk and action. CMW has a company wide behavior-based training system that drives safety at every level of the organization. With over 100 turnarounds under our belt, we are proud of our dedication to keeping our employees safe.

Scheduling: CMW has a dedicated scheduling/planning division with decades of experience in developing project master schedules that have consistently removed hours, if not days, of wasted time and resources. From work scope outlines to complete project tracking through Microsoft Project and/or Primavera, CMW will deliver the master schedule that makes a difference.

Fabrication: CMW’s ASME code shop has the S and U stamps along with the NBIC R stamp for all your fabrication requirements. Our state-of-the-art 75,000 square foot facility has produced hundreds of sulfuric pieces of equipment such as converters, heat exchangers, pressure vessels, acid towers, ducts, expansions joints, and much more for whatever your specific requirements may be.

Field Installation: CMW has an impeccable reputation for expert quality workmanship and finishing on time and on budget. Our field crews are some of the best in the business and our close to 50 years of making sure your plant is back on line provides the confidence you need in making your contractor decision.

Maintenance: CMW believes in full service for your sulfuric acid plant. Our maintenance crews ensure that your plant operates at peak efficiency on a daily basis while also providing the best preparation for all outage related work.

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Cover Story

Mosaic’s New Wales Plant: bringing a world-class legacy into the 21st century The world’s population is estimated to be about 7 billion people, with another 150,000 people born every day. Combine those statistics with limits on farmable land, and you get a powerful demand for productive soil. Understanding these forces, strategic planners at Mosaic Co., the world’s largest producer of phosphate fertilizer, are investing billions of dollars in the company’s phosphate- and potash-based fertilizer operations, including the flagship New Wales phosphate facility in Mulberry, Fla. The New Wales plant was built in 1975 as a state-of-the-art facility and at the time was the largest phosphate fertilizer complex in the world. Before Mosaic purchased it, the facility was owned by IMC Global Inc., which operated several plants in Florida and Louisiana. IMC Global had a long history dating back to 1909, and grew to be a major player in both phosphate and potash fertilizers. Mosaic began operating in 2004, as a merger between IMC Global and another internationally recognized leader in industrial fertilizers, Cargill Crop Nutrition. Cargill Crop Nutrition began in the 1960s as a division of Cargill, Inc., a leading agribusiness company. From there, the division grew to be one of the world’s top producers of phosphate and nitrogen fertilizers. Today Mosaic, headquartered in Plymouth, Minn., leads the industry in worldwide phosphate production at 11 million tons annual capacity and is a major global producer of potash at over 10 million tons. To achieve these volumes, the company employs nearly 9,000 individuals to work in over a dozen large-scale mining and production facilities and multiple distribution centers and offices worldwide. The New Wales facility, though no longer the largest fertilizer plant on the globe, is well-positioned to continue its worldclass legacy. As a proven high-volume, lower-cost performer among Mosaic’s phosphate facilities, the company has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to keep New Wales world-class as it moves into the 21st century.

Additional steam supply for the high efficiency steam injection system is generated by an LLP Boiler which recovers additional heat from the HRS acid to generate 15 psig steam. Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

The last of the 5 stacks is replaced during the 45-day 01 Plant turnaround that started in January 2015.

Much of this investment you can plainly see. Walk through New Wales’ sulfuric acid operations today and you will witness the progress of a major capital investment plan that, when completed, will have replaced every major component of all five sulfuric acid plants. You will also notice two new heat recovery systems (HRS) and two new steam turbine-generators, one installed in 2009 and the other one last year.

Putting the “Continuous” in Continuous Improvement

For all of New Wales’ tangible enhancements, equal focus has been placed on improving the sulfuric acid department’s processes and organizational structure. In fact, New Wales has been analyzing every aspect of its sulfuric acid department: operations and maintenance, OEE, maintenance reliability and mechanical integrity, asset management, staffing, role definitions and training, safety—and more. Getting and keeping New Wales at world-class performance levels through this century means creating a continuous improvement culture and committing to supporting it for the long term. Not a once-and-done process, but a cyclical one: analyze your process, refine your process, do your process. Repeat. A key contributor to New Wales refining its organizational practices is the installation of a dedicated Continuous Improvement (CI) group. Because the CI group’s singular focus is to optimize the facility, it can objectively help problem solve across departments. Ky Phan, Continuous Improvement Manager at New Wales, puts it this way. “The only skin I have in the game is to help the plant improve. And sometimes it takes an objective group to get all the right experts from

the different teams together to get to the root of the problem.” And often it takes the CI groups’ focused approach to hone in on the issues amid all the activity involved with operating five acid plants, three generators and multiple utility systems. “There is a lot going on in a plant this size with the different groups always looking at safety, cost, production, quality, environmental and so forth,” Phan says. “The CI group’s job is to penetrate beyond these routine activities to help identify root causes, facilitate solutions and drive them to closure with long-term solutions rather than temporary fixes.” “Much of what we do sounds simple; and it is,” Phan continues. “But the problems are never really simple. There are always multiple causes that take time and discipline to resolve.” With three years at New Wales under his belt, Phan and his team have earned recognition as a valueadd component of the facility. But it wasn’t always that way. “New Wales has seen a lot of improvement plans come and go over the years,” says Phan. “In the past, a team would spend months doing reviews to improve OEE, maintenance reliability, turnaround management, costs, safety, workflow, etc. Then the commitment to support the recommendations would disappear as soon as the company moved on to a new area of focus. Lots of good work was done to identify and solve problems, but there wasn’t the essential organizational support to maintain the solutions for the long term.” But all that has changed since Mosaic took over and implemented this CI effort. “The CI team has helped us tremendously,” says Keith Willis, Sulfuric Acid Area Manager. “They’ve helped us get better organized, stay focused and maintain the discipline to follow our procedures. They’ve put the systems and the metrics in place. They’ve gotten the operators recognition from management for being an integral part of the process. They’ve helped clearly define all the roles in this facility and how everyone at all levels contributes to the overall plant and corporate goals.” The CI team’s influence includes another important dimension—management support. “Beyond the tools to help the plant identify its problems,” says Willis, “now for the first time the CI group can really deliver the management support— whether that is capital funding, staffing, or organizational standards and policies—in a way that has not been seen in the past at New Wales.” “It’s been rewarding to see that Mosaic recognizes the value of continuous improvement,” Willis says, “and has made the longterm commitment to ensure the continuous part of continuous improvement is there.”

Sustaining capital investments

Mosaic’s long-term commitment is also evidenced by the capital investments it has been making to the New Wales facility. And with five acid plants, that means a lot of capital. As the sulfuric acid plant equipment originally installed in the mid-1970s began approaching 25 years’ service life, a long term capital equipment replacement plan became imperative. When the plan was first being developed, a process analysis was conducted to optimize the performance of each new piece of equipment, as opposed to simply replacing old assets with new. Steam turbine and blower efficiencies were improved; cast iron grid and post converters were upgraded to stainless steel radial flow designs; and carbon steel brick-lined acid towers with cast iron distributors became alloy towers with high efficiency distributors, low pressure drop structured packing, and the latest mist elimination technology with concentric auto-drain candle designs. All of the heat exchange equipment designs, from boilers to economizers, to gas-gas heat exchangers, to acid coolers have been optimized as well. “It’s been a long program, but the results have been exceptional,” says Jim Dougherty, New Wales Process Engineer. “These upgrades not only returned all of the assets to their original operational integrity, but have also increased production capacity and improved energy recoveries. On top of that, the plants also operate with even lower emission rates than the original designs did.” Why not just fix the equipment? It’s all part of Mosaic’s long-term philosophy. “Mosaic believes in the phosphate business, and is investing heavily for the future,” says Chris Hagemo, Assistant Facility Manager at New Wales. “We are deploying significant capital to not just fix what we have, but to make things better. We’ll get 20 to 30 more years of solid performance out of this equipment.” The equipment replacement count is impressive: 5 each of major components such as furnaces and converters; 10 waste heat boilers; 15 acid towers; 18 acid coolers and 25 super heaters and economizers. And when you include the more routine equipment like pump tanks and stacks, the grand total exceeds 90 pieces of major equipment.

Super-sized turnarounds With all the new capital equipment

and the heat recovery installations, New Wales has been experiencing the most complex turnarounds in its history. “The turnarounds here are the largest I’ve seen   PAGE 7

Cover Story

Chris Hagemo

Chris Pearson

Installation of new 4A/C economizer — 4A superheater installed at 02 Plant. The equipment was designed by MECS/DuPont and fabricated by Optimus.

in my 25-year career,” says Willis. “The coordination between the project group, the operations group and the engineering group has to be spot on. And while we’re doing a turnaround on one of the acid plants, we’re still operating four other plants and three generators.” A normal New Wales turnaround used to take two weeks, and might include screening catalyst, a little maintenance on acid distributors and brick refractory, water blasting acid coolers, cleaning boiler and heat exchanger tubes and maybe replacing a gas duct or two. Then, when the capital equipment replacement funding started coming in, things changed. “We’ve had to reinvent how turnarounds are handled here,” Hagemo says. “How we’ve choreographed outages from staffing, planning and logistics is a testament to the hard work and efforts of the entire sulfuric team.” “When we first started executing the equipment replacement plan, replacing just one piece of equipment, such as an acid cooler or a gas-gas heat exchanger, was a big task. Each time, we had to figure out the best way to do the work for each piece of equipment,” recalls Dougherty. Then things began to accelerate. “We moved on to bigger scale equipment, like furnaces and acid towers, and then ultimately the first converter change-out. That was a really big deal for us—28 days.” But the work intensified even further. “So much so,” recalls Capital Projects Manager Atusa Amiri, “that it is hard to remember what a turnaround with only one or two equipment replacements was even like. We progressed to multiple project turnarounds, like a new converter with an acid tower and two gas-gas heat exchangers. After so many PAGE 8

Dennis Sisco

of these,” Amiri continues, “the norm became replacing 3-5 pieces of equipment every turnaround. We had to find a way to get ahead of the game. Ultimately we ended up with a 10-year sulfuric acid capital equipment plan to lay out which equipment made the most sense to change together based on New Wales’ 5-year capital funding plans. I was developing and securing funding for projects 3-4 turnarounds into the future, all while executing 3-5 piece turnarounds every 6 months.” For the sulfuric operations and maintenance group, the frequency and duration of the turnarounds compounded the complexity further. “We were doing these big turnarounds every six months and many of them were nearly a month long,” explains Willis. “So that means we were almost always either working on turnaround prep, in turnaround, or in the post-turnaround demobilization stage. Eventually we got to the point where turnaround mode was the only mode we had.” “Fortunately,” says Hagemo, “by the time we started getting into these multiple equipment turnarounds, we had already developed enough experience performing single-equipment replacements that the larger projects came down to proper planning and coordination.” The turnaround complexity ultimately peaked in 2014 with back-to-back turnarounds installing 5 pieces of equipment during each outage plus heat recovery system (HRS) conversions, and the commissioning of a 30 megawatt (MW) turbine generator in between. Finally, the most recent turnaround spanned 45 days and consisted of 9 major equipment replacements— a furnace, two waste boilers, drying tower doghouse and mist eliminators, two economizers, a superheater and two acid coolers. “We’re looking forward to getting back to those “easy” 2-3 equipment turnarounds again,” says Willis.

Managing turnarounds— hitting the bull’s eye With the scope of the turnarounds and

all the different groups wanting to perform capital replacements, maintenance reliability and traditional turnaround work during the same outage time, Operations Turnaround Coordinator Keith Eldridge’s role became more critical than ever. “I coordinate the logistics of all these teams coming together,” Eldridge says. “So I developed a plot plan to track all the different contractors coming in for all the various projects. Who is coming in when, when is a certain contractor available, what equipment are they bringing, what crane size are they us-

Jim Gruber

ing, will it fit, what roadways are we closing for those 12 concrete trucks coming in, is there enough parking, how do we give access to the 300 additional people moving in and out, do we hire a full-time person to direct traffic, how much waste are we generating, how are we handling that and so forth.” “These turnarounds became complex, but they still had to execute perfectly. It’s like having to hit the bull’s eye every time,” Eldridge says. “But, hey, that’s what we’re aiming for.” Helping him hit that bull’s eye are two dedicated planners, Mosaic’s Jai Jairam, and Central Maintenance and Welding’s Walter Brown. “I spend nearly all of my time here at New Wales planning and scheduling turnarounds,” says Brown. Together with Mosaic, Brown has taken the best practices from past turnarounds and developed a New Wales-style turnaround planning system that uses templates and an optimized sequence of procedures. Brown also combines all the contractors’ schedules and gets daily contractor updates, which he includes in the master schedule and redistributes. “Tracking progress is critical,” Brown says. “In order to try to bring things in, you have to know whether you’re getting behind. People need interim goals on their way to achieving the end goal. It used to be we’d have just the one end date. Then the tasks in the middle would keep slipping out farther until you’d push the end date.” Given the significant price tag associated with each super-sized turnaround, New Wales has also been working diligently to extend the time between outages. The original turnarounds back in 1975 took place every 9 months driven by the need to screen the old pellet style catalyst. Then, with the advent of low pressure drop ring catalyst, a 24-month operating cycle became commonplace. Eventually they were increased to 30 months. But even the 30-month cycle is under scrutiny as the team considers the feasibility of extending to a reliable 36-month operating cycle. “We’ve looked at the economics of taking just a few days to do a simple turnaround—screen catalyst and maybe check distribution levels in the towers,” says Hagemo. “But even that bit of work can cost $2.5-3 million, so we found it makes better financial sense to extend another 6 months and save half a million dollars.” Pushing turnaround cycles even further means the diligent every-day operating paradigm of continuous improvement is even more important. “Longer operating cycles means we have to run the plants even better in between,” says Hagemo. “Proactive maintenance reliability is critical.”

Kristi Farrell

“We are in this culture now of finding sustainable solutions to reduce expenses, improve performance and improve reliability,” Hagemo continues. “We’re questioning historical operating paradigms. And we’ve been successful. When we went to a 30-month turnaround cycle, folks were saying, ‘you can’t run an HRS plant past 24 months,’ but we did. We’ll see whether we can continue in the long-term, but we’ll keep searching for those bottle necks and stretching ourselves as long as we can.” Although the New Wales team with its five acid plants executes turnarounds every 6 months, for Mosaic as a whole, it’s an even bigger story. In central Florida, Mosaic now operates a total of 17 sulfuric acid plants, all of which share the same contractors during turnarounds. With this many plants and a limited set of qualified local contractors, coordinating all of the acid plant turnarounds has become a monumental task. In front of that task is Turnaround Maintenance Advisor Dennis Sisco, also known locally as “the turnaround guy.” A huge proponent of planning, Sisco has formalized a Mosaic-wide turnaround management program and helps facilitate execution of that process at all of the sites, particularly the sulfuric acid plants. A central theme to his work is sharing information. “We’ve looked at all the sites, capturing what they’re doing well and what they can improve, and taking that from site to site, so that everybody gains from the tribal knowledge of all the teams,” says Sisco. A common issue Sisco has noticed throughout has been too few quality contractors to perform all the work at Mosaic’s 17 acid plants. And the contractors they are using are stretched to capacity. “This year, we’re conducting nine sulfuric acid turnarounds,” Sisco says. “A record for Mosaic. And if we’re using the same contractors for all of them, the crews get worn out. We’re looking into ways of requiring them to take time off every so often, rotating crews, and even rotating contractors so we don’t burn out any particular contractor and get better, safer performance overall.”

Securing safety— “priority #1”

Given all the considerations regarding turnarounds, there is one area that has risen above all others—safety. “The safety turnaround management plan is fully integrated to the plant’s planning process from day one all the way through to the final turnaround audits,” explains New Wales Manager for Health, Safety and Security, Joe Alderdice. “All the contractors for the Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

Cover Story

Ky Phan

Joe Alderdice

major projects provide a detailed safety plan as part of the bidding process and the quality of these plans is critical to contractor selection. Once all the contractors are selected, the plans for each contractor’s job are integrated into an overall safety plan that becomes the core of all of the other turnaround planning activities. This approach becomes all the more critical as the turnarounds became longer and more complicated.” As important, if not more important than these critical planning tasks are the activities Mosaic has developed over the years to establish a direct point of contact with every contract employee in every turnaround every day. “A pre-turnaround safety meeting is held between Mosaic and the contractor management and supervisory teams,” explains Alderdice. “On day one of the turnaround, a kick-off meeting is held that is attended by every contract employee to set the tone for the turnaround. Demonstrations are set up for safety focus areas specific to the activities for that particular turnaround or lessons learned from previous turnarounds. Then at least one member of the sulfuric area operations or maintenance staff attends each individual contractor’s daily toolbox meeting to establish a safety contact point with every single contract employee every single day of the turnaround. The Mosaic safety team holds a daily meeting with all of the contractor’s lead field supervisors and field safety supervisor (each contractor is required to provide its own field safety supervisor). The daily turnaround planning and coordination meeting includes all of the other contract foreman and begins with safety discussions that include review of all of the daily audits and observations to ensure that everyone is aware of all of the safety activities going on.” Emergency communications is another part of the safety planning. Contract field safety supervisors are provided with Mosaic plant radios and are required to have a system in place to notify all of their field foremen immediately with a single call or text in case of emergency. The final contact point takes place during the job safety walkthrough that takes place between the operations personnel and the crew performing each job as part of the standard safe work permitting procedures. By integrating contractors into the process, New Wales is building important relationships. “Every contract employee out in the field knows they can bring up an issue, and we’ll follow through,” says Maintenance Supervisor Barry Brown. “Our goal is to avoid a reoccurrence of a significant near miss or incident. So if it takes an extra three days or an extra three Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

Atusa Amiri

weeks to get the job done safely, that’s what we are going to do. Safety is number one.” The improved relationships have been earning dividends. “Now the contractors will come up to us and challenge us to examine their work, along with the work of other contractors and Mosaic employees, to see if we can find things that might cause incidents,” says Brown. “It used to be they’d get nervous when we approached them. Now they want to talk to not only us about what they’re doing, but to other contractors as well. This new culture has created an atmosphere where they all feel comfortable talking to each other about safety.” “You can actually feel it when you walk around the turnaround areas,” agrees Alderdice. “Everybody is coordinating and communicating better, and looking out for each other as well.” And the results of all these efforts? Despite the New Wales sulfuric acid department executing some of the most complex and dangerous turnarounds in its history, there has not been a recordable injury during a turnaround since 2008. “That’s 14 consecutive turnarounds without a single injury in any one of them,” says Hagemo. “Of all that has been accomplished in these sulfuric plant turnarounds, this safety performance is what we all take the most pride in.”

Jai Jairam

With the investment in capital equipment and plans to continue extending operating cycles to 36-months and possibly beyond, the performance of the supervisors and operators who actually run the plants becomes even more critical. The standards required to operate three HRS units and maintain top performance of a sulfuric acid plant over a 36-month operating cycle without any hiccups are higher than ever before. Recognizing that having the proper talent is crucial to the success of any operation, Phan’s Continuous Improvement

group was instrumental in getting additional headcount to do the work, but not before conducting a comprehensive analysis of plant roles and goals. “Our task was to really understand who’s doing what and who needs to be doing what,” says Phan. “So we interviewed a lot of people and asked a lot of very specific questions, like, ‘What are your key performance indicators? How is success in your job measured? What are your goals? What’s working well for you? What’s not working well?’” The analysis identified all the tasks necessary to achieve the plant’s goals and when compared to the tasks that were currently being performed, there were many tasks left unassigned. The analysis also identified that the employees were performing their jobs very well, but there simply wasn’t enough employees to complete all the tasks. “It was the specificity of Ky’s group being able to document all the roles and responsibilities that are needed to get us where we want to go, and identify all the standard work within those roles,” explains Willis. “That became the blueprint that we used to compare against our existing staff. We were able to clearly show management exactly where our staffing fell short, and we got the additional headcount we needed,” he says. “It’s unusual to see headcount added,” Willis continues, “but that’s the leverage the CI group brings to the table—the ability to get the necessary support from the highest levels. And these days, Mosaic management has been following through and delivering the goods to us every time.” Another critical aspect that came out of the evaluation was a lack of consistency in the training of the operators. Each operator was performing his best, but sometimes assigned tasks were under-defined or incompletely understood. “These differences in understanding and performance levels,” explains Sulfuric Acid Production Coordinator Rod Dexter, “were a result of inconsistent training practices within the department.” So, based on standard work tasks and roles evaluations, a new

The sulfuric acid process engineering team includes, from left, Theresa Rowe, Crystal Alonso and Superintendent Nicole Christiansen.

Plant Operations/Maintenance team members are, left to right, Drew Evans, Ricky Carlson, Keith Willis, Rod Dexter, Chris Thomas, Barry Brown, Doug Simmons and Keith Eldridge.

Operations staffing and training

Jim Dougherty

training program was developed from the ground up. “And all of the operators went through it,” Dexter recalls, “from those with 25 years of sulfuric experience to the ones who never set foot in the acid plant. And everyone came away with the exact same understanding of all of the roles and responsibilities of each operating position in the department, the same standard work definitions and exactly what performance levels were expected for each task.” The most beneficial portion of the new training program was the custom-designed computer simulation model of the New Wales sulfuric acid plants developed by MECS/DuPont. “The simulators have been invaluable not only in terms of abbreviating learning time,” Willis explains, “but especially in terms of the confidence that the operators developed in their abilities because they have actually run the plant and troubleshot every possible failure scenario on the simulator. The simulator is essential training for the chief operators as it gives them the ability to learn and make mistakes on the simulator, whereas in the past these learning mistakes were made on the actual plants. The training supervisor works in the background and can input scenarios for every failure that has occurred in the 40-year history of New Wales,” Willis says. Production Coordinator David Sheffield worked with the MECS/DuPont development team to get every detail of the actual plant operations modeled. “The simulator ended up being so good,” says Sheffield, “that I challenged any operator to take a double blind test whether they were operating the simulator or a real plant. So far, nobody has taken me up on it.” The only complaint the operators have about transitioning from the simulator to the real plant is that they no longer have the simulator’s pause button. “But when you get right down to it,” Sheffield says, “there really isn’t anything the plant can throw at them that they haven’t already experienced on the simulator.” An additional benefit to the simulator is that field operators can use it to learn how a chief operator runs the plant. Understanding what the chiefs need from field operators improves the performance of the field operators as well as prepares them to develop into chief operators. The training program has proved a resounding success—and in sharp contrast to the manner in which operators have historically learned their jobs. “The training we used to have was school of hard knocks—learn as you go,” says Dexter, “but now our training process is world-class. We’re taking guys who have never set foot in an acid plant before and turning them   PAGE 9

Cover Story

into chief operators in six months. In the past, an operator would have to be in the job for six years before you’d even consider making him chief.”

Maintenance reliability

Mosaic has also been investing in other areas of New Wales’ organizational structure to keep the facility running world-class. Maintenance reliability, maintenance workflow, plant automation, process control engineers and advanced process controls are all areas that have been supported to a degree never before seen at New Wales. The concept of staying ahead has been a major focus for the maintenance organization over the last several years. From a mainly reactive strategy, the work has shifted to a strongly proactive strategy. “We’re finding issues before problems manifest,” explains Chris Pearson, Facility Maintenance Manager. “We’re finding issues earlier on the failure curve so we can address them sooner, quicker and more cost effectively.” Another significant piece of the philosophy is employing an asset management program for the plant. “Every piece of equipment will have a spare parts program, a cataloguing system for all the specifications, as well as a preventative and predictive maintenance program,” Pearson says. Another significant piece of a good asset management strategy is spares management. “We are systematically reviewing typical failure modes of each of our existing assets to ensure we have the right spares cataloged, documented in the BOM and, where required, stocked in the store room,” Pearson says. “With several major capital expansion project currently underway, it is important that we develop a spares management strategy long before commissioning the new assets.” The main goal of a proactive reliability model is to improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) to insure the assets are available to run whenever operations needs them to run and they are capable of running at full capacity. The changes have been on a revolutionary scale. “It wasn’t too many years ago that our maintenance strategies were mostly reactive. Now we have a staff of reliability experts who are dedicated to the development of proactive strategies for all major assets,” said Pearson. The field plant maintenance organization is also coming up to speed. “Our entire group, from planners, schedulers and supervisors, right down to the mechanics in the field, went for a week-long training on root-cause analysis, thinking about why something might fail, and even anticipating a failure so you can avoid it altogether,” says Brown. “You never heard of sending mechanics to this type of training before. The old culture around here was operations ran it until it failed and then maintenance fixed it. We’re not doing that anymore— with mechanics out in the field having the training they’ve had—we’re staying way ahead of it now.” PAGE 10

The improved reliability program has also benefited turnaround planning. “Maintaining comprehensive health analysis on all the equipment makes defining the turnaround scope much more precise,” says Sisco. “We can identify, with specificity and hard data, what maintenance needs to be done and which pieces of equipment have outlived their usefulness.” This specific data presented in a standardized format has been essential in securing the necessary funding to properly maintain the asset value of the New Wales sulfuric acid plants. “And getting the budget commitment to turnarounds early on,” Sisco continues, “has allowed earlier turnaround planning, which was essential to the success of the complex acid plant turnarounds over the past five years.”

Chief plant operator Vance Governor at the 04 Plant DCS workstation in the New Wales central control room.

Opportunity capital projects—the “game changers”

With the capital equipment replacement program well under way and the operations and maintenance teams reorganized and focused on optimizing existing acid plant assets, Mosaic management turned its attention to identifying capital projects that could deliver improvements on a game changing scale. The opportunities targeted were energy recovery/power generation and raw material supply, the two areas of sulfuric acid operations that have the biggest impact on reducing operating costs and increasing revenue generation for the New Wales complex. The first energy recovery and cogeneration project was completed in 2009. The scope included the addition of two heat exchangers into the existing acid plant systems and a new turbine-generator (TG). The two heat exchangers recover additional heat from the IPA circuit at the 02 plant and from the original HRS unit located in the 03 plant to pre-heat boiler feed water. The additional steam generated is used to drive a 30 MW generator that was relocated from a plant site that had been shut down in the early years of Mosaic and re-designed to fit the steam system at New Wales. The next energy recovery opportunity was the retro-fit of two acid plants with MECS heat recovery systems (HRS) and the installation of a fourth turbine generator. This project was commissioned in the summer of 2014. The MECS HRS was

02 Plant HRS system with steam injection was commissioned in June 2014.

Production Coordinator David Sheffield demonstrates the process controls simulator developed by MECS/DuPont for the New Wales standard and HRS retrofitted acid plants.

Process Controls Specialist Chris Sutherland demonstrates the use of mobile technology for instrumentation system field maintenance.

ordered with the latest steam injection system design to generate even more steam than the traditional HRS design. “Putting steam into a gas system duct prior to an acid tower goes against everything operations has learned about running a sulfuric acid plant, but the system really performs.” says Willis. “The steam injection controls automatically adjust to plant rate changes so it is almost as simple as just turning it on or off when you start up or shut down the acid plant.” This 30 MW TG runs exclusively off of steam generated in the two HRS systems and gives New Wales the ability to not only supply its own 60 MW base load, but also supply the power requirements of Mosaic’s largest mine processing plant and export power to the local utility company. Installing all of this new capital equipment presented challenges not only in the coordination of the turnaround executions, but during the engineering design phases as well. “Given all the new equipment going in, the engineering design teams had to keep a close eye on how each new component would affect the entire acid plant

A 3-D model image of New Wales Sulfur Melter targeted to be operational by the end of 2015.

design,” says New Wales Energy Project Manager Kristi Farrell. “With the many different engineering contractors, we had a lot of drawings that all had to mesh together. And because the energy project had such a great impact to the design, it just made sense to 3-D model the entire plant.” This 3-D modeling has made the designs much more understandable and easy for everyone to evaluate. “Trying to put a bunch of individual drawings together, it’s really difficult to visualize how all the designs integrate as a system. But we can take the 3-D model and show it to the operations and maintenance folks and get their feedback on the spot,” Farrell explains. 3-D modeling had been used for many years for individual equipment projects, but with the size of 2014 HRS project and the five sustaining capital projects happening at the same time, it was necessary to model the entire acid plant in order to ensure that all of the individual project designs integrated into the existing plant equipment. After these experiences, 3-D modeling has become the standard for all of the sulfuric acid plant projects. Because of their readability, the models have become broadly used across the plant to evaluate ergonomics, develop repair plans, maintenance planning and scheduling. Most importantly, operations can use them for equipment lockout planning and permitting, giving them the ability to show the work crew exactly the equipment location where they will be working and how the equipment has been prepared to be safely worked on. The other game changing project is the installation of a sulfur melting facility at the New Wales site. “With Mosaic being the world’s largest producer of phosphate fertilizers, it stands to reason that we are also the world’s largest consumer of sulfur,” says Director of Raw Materials Procurement Hermann Wittje. “We consume 4.5 million tons of sulfur annually in our process. That large volume leads to unique concerns about supply security for this essential raw material.” Sulfur used for fertilizer production generally comes in two forms, molten sulfur and prilled sulfur (reformed solid granules). Sulfur is a by-product of petroleum refineries and natural gas production facilities. With the advent of the new reserves of lowsulfur content shale gas and oil currently being mined in the United States, the North American sulfur supply is expected to progressively tighten. World supplies, however, Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

The high efficiency HRS designs at New Wales include a heater and pre-heater to recover additional energy from the high temperature acid and pre-heat HRS boiler feed water.

The HRS system’s teflon lined acid dilution vessel.

ated at the New Wales facility adds no CO2 emissions.”

Moving into the digital age

Committed to continuously improving, New Wales has many other projects under development that will help ensure its world class operating status well into the future. One of the first areas being targeted is automation. Optimizing plant performance at New Wales entails keeping up with the technological advances available to the industry. Several years ago, New Wales upgraded the 1970s generation Digital Control System (DCS), but it ended up being greatly underutilized until a team of automation technicians were employed to focus on utilizing the new systems to their fullest extent. “The plant was already automated,” says Drew Evans, Electrical & Instrumentation (E&I) Supervisor, “but we had a lot of work making it perform well.” During the DCS modernization, the E&I group also combined the two old control rooms into a single location from which all five acid plants are run and also installed dual servers to the controls network to create the redundancy necessary for 100 percent uptime. Process Controls Specialist Chris Sutherland is currently completing the terminal server installations to allow the integration of mobile devices (iPads) to the control system networks. “In addition to these terminal servers,” explains Sutherland, “we are installing plant-wide industrial WiFi that will allow the new sulfur melter to be tied back in to the control network to increase operator productivity and flexibility. Ultimately security protocols will be developed that will allow integration into the Mosaic networks to provide remote monitoring of the controls system from mobile devices off the plant site as well as more integrated access to real-time management data, operating procedures and documents.” The new sulfur melter plant was designed and staffed based on the flexibility afforded to an operator from the integration

of the traditional DCS systems with the latest mobile devices. The new facilities operators will be able to monitor and control their plant’s operation from the mobile device out in the plant, looking at the same DCS screens they see in the control room. They can keep an eye on the equipment and watch the process changes made from their mobile device happen right before their eyes. The maintenance reliability group will enjoy similar efficiencies as a pilot program using iPads gets underway. “This will be a paperless system,” says Pearson, “where a mechanic can walk up to an asset, and, using his mobile device, input readings, record inspection results and even order parts for any necessary repairs that will be ready for him by the time he goes to the warehouse to pick them up.” New Wales’ process engineering team is also driving improvements for the future. “These are exciting times for the process engineering team,” says Process Engineering Superintendent Nicole Christiansen. “We are able to do a lot more than routine support with our active participation in commissioning and startup of the HRS and TGs. This type of participation provides great experiences for our team. We have been spending a lot of time in evaluating the best options for the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) and have also endeavored on energy optimization type projects with advanced process controls and improved steam balancing.” Process Engineer Crystal Alonso is working on another project that implements advanced process controls (APC) to help manage steam and power generation. “The APC system will be custom designed using “fuzzy logic” that actually teaches itself how to maximize steam and power generation from the data it collects monitoring the plants while they are in operation,” Alonso explains. Initially the APC will be developed for the sulfuric acid plant and generators; then, once this base system is in place, it will be expanded to incorporate other areas of the fertilizer complex that impact power generation. “The New Wales fertilizer complex uses one million pounds per hour of steam to evaporate and concentrate phosphoric acid for the manufacture of fertilizer,” Alonso continues. “The expanded APC model will be used to maximize phosphoric acid concentration in the reactor, increase

evaporator operating efficiencies and cleaning cycles, and manage acid tank farm inventories to balance out the instantaneous evaporator loading—all of this to maximize the amount of steam available for co-generation. The model will be further expanded to include fertilizer production planning since the different fertilizer products require different concentrations of phosphoric acid, which changes the steam demand on the evaporators. Ultimately, the mine processing plants, which rely on power generated at New Wales, will be included in the model to determine the best operating rates and outage schedules between the complexes— all with the goal of maximizing the power generation at New Wales.” To support the plant’s existing automation team, Theresa Rowe is taking on a new role as Process Controls Engineer. “Initially we will start with the existing DCS process controls, clean up the alarm systems and tune up all of the control loops to make life easier for the plant operators,” Rowe explains. “Then we’ll move on to developing the higher level process control schemes to better operate all of the plant’s systems and fully utilize the capabilities of the APC system that Crystal (Alonso) is working on.” The advancements in automation and process controls provide great contrast to the way things used to be at New Wales. “The first superintendent I worked for once told me about the original sulfuric acid plants built in the 1960s at Mosaic’s South Pierce site,” recalls Dougherty. “There were no automated controls at all, and the control panel consisted of motor run lights, start/stop buttons and a few chart recorders for the furnace and converter temperatures. The only process variable controlled from inside the control room was the acid dilution water. There was a water pipe that came through the back wall to a rotometer and a valve monitor to adjust the flow. Everything else was manual valves and gas dampers out in the field and hand written paper log sheets.” “By the time these new process controls, automation and APC projects are completed,” Dougherty says, “the way we will operate the plants wouldn’t even be recognizable to acid plant operators of past generations. And today’s operators wouldn’t be able to run the plants to the standards we expect without them.”

Moving toward the future

With a strong belief in its future and a commitment to its goals, Mosaic’s New Wales sulfuric acid team has accomplished more in the past five years than in the previous 20 years. At the core of this success has been a willingness to take a continuousimprovement approach, looking at every area of the business for ways to improve. No stone was left unturned. With each new improvement, the sulfuric acid plants provide an ever greater contribution to the New Wales bottom line and Mosaic’s future success, and continue to maintain their world class status for the 21st century. q   PAGE 11

Cover Story

are set to expand significantly. Most of the rest of the world’s sulfur is traded in the solid prilled form. Mosaic has, in the past, predominantly used molten sulfur in its Florida phosphate operations. However, as the world sulfur markets change, Mosaic needs to tap into this expanding world supply of sulfur to assure cost efficiency and supply security. “This project will enable Mosaic to use a combination of molten and prilled sulfur,” Wittje continues, “and ensure an economical and reliable new supply source to fulfill our obligation to remain a low cost producer of phosphates for years to come.” In addition to the supply chain flexibility and commercial advantages that the melter will bring to Mosaic, the New Wales facility will now have a substantial portion of its sulfur coming through the melter, which comes with a filtration system. “Since our current sulfur supply comes from many varied sources, we have had little or no control of the quality of sulfur we receive,” says Wittje. “Having direct control of the sulfur quality means opportunities to reduce the rate of catalyst bed fouling caused by impurities that come in with the sulfur. This will be critical to our efforts to extend the acid plant operating cycles to 36 months and beyond.” The project is already under construction and targeted to be operational prior to the end of 2015. “The sulfur melter will be the largest in the world when it is completed, but the facility design has been optimized for compactness, operational flexibility, as well as world-class safety and environmental considerations. By utilizing a modular approach, the project delivery method has also been tailored to meet business objectives as well as to minimize impact during construction on a site that is very active right now,” explains Project Manager Thomas Dombroski. Devco, a Tulsa, Oklahoma based engineering and construction firm, has been awarded a project for a turnkey sulfur melting plant – including sulfur truck unloading, storage and melting systems. The original project was to melt the sulfur at the Port of Tampa, but applying the continuous improvement principles and value stream mapping, it was determined that it was actually better to melt the sulfur at New Wales. “New Wales already has steam and power available,” explains Jim Gruber, Materials Handling Operations Manager, who will be running the new melter. “So there is a substantial reduction in the capital investment requirements not having to build a natural gas combustion unit and boiler to generate steam.” Operating costs will also be lower because the electricity requirements will be provided by power that is generated from energy recovered from the sulfuric acid plants. “This is a big cost savings in comparison to purchasing power from the utility company. But best of all,” Gruber continues, “there is zero environmental impact from the melter from a carbon footprint standpoint because the steam and electricity gener-



Global sulfuric acid—supply and demand outlook

By: Fiona Boyd, Argus Media

In 2014, Argus estimates around 239

million tons of sulfuric acid were produced

on a global basis, of which around 147 million tons, or 62 percent, was produced

through the burning of elemental sulfur. The

majority of sulfur-based acid is produced at plants located close to end-use fertilizer production and for industrial applications including metallurgical leaching.

Around 72 million tons, or 31 percent,

of sulfuric acid was produced as involuntary and generally unwanted by-product of the

smelting industry, through the smelting of non-ferrous base metals like copper, nickel,

lead and zinc. This is what makes up the majority of merchant sulfuric acid traded in the market.

The remaining 20 million tons,

or 7 percent, of global sulfuric acid production was through pyrite roasting in China. Roasting of pyrites has been

eliminated in most other regions because of environmental concerns surrounding the process.

A minimal amount of acid is produced

from spent acid regeneration. This process involves the regeneration of acid produced

within an oil refinery which is then

processed off-site before being sent back in purified form to the refiner to be used in the production of refined products.

By 2020, Argus has forecast global

sulfuric acid production to reach 256

million tons, with around 162 million tons, or 63 percent, to be produced through

sulfur burning. Production from base metals smelting will account for 74 million

tons, or 30 percent, while the remaining 20 million tons, or 7 percent, will be produced through pyrite roasting in China.

As the forecast volumes reflect,

sulfuric acid production from elemental

sulfur will account for a larger proportion of total production than it has in the past.

Drivers for this include the benefit of creation of by-product energy through the

cogeneration process. A surplus of sulfur is forecast to emerge in 2015 following tight

supply from 2010-2014. The emergence of a

sulfur surplus will result in lower operating costs for sulfur-based producers. As a result, operations that require significant

amounts of sulfuric acid are opting to develop internal sulfur-based production PAGE 12

capacity rather than rely on purchasing

seen in the Philippines and South Korea.

of supply in some regions. For example, in

by supply from the merchant market, it is

from the merchant market.

In terms of demand, consumption of

sulfuric acid closely matches production. Since sulfuric acid is liquid, storage ability

and transportation methods are limited.

Essentially for this reason, the market must balance itself.

Looking ahead, demand for sulfuric

acid to support fertilizer production will

increase because of the need to produce

more products to help feed a growing population with improving dietary needs. In 2015 and beyond, new sulfur-based

sulfuric acid capacity to support fertilizer production is being added in China,

Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Brazil.

Industrial demand for sulfuric acid

is widespread for the so called “king of

chemicals,” with over 250 applications identified according to The Sulfur Institute

(TSI). Major industrial uses include

metal leaching, caprolactam production, feed-grade phosphates, hydrofluoric acid production, titanium dioxide production, pulp and paper production, water treatment and ethanol production.

Ore leaching represents the largest

non-fertilizer consumption sector. As an

indicator of the importance of the metal leach sector, Chile is the largest importer of sulfuric acid to support copper production.

Its imports in 2005 were around 340,000

tons, before increasing significantly to close to over 1 million tons by 2008 and

peaking at just over 3 million tons in 2012. New




capacity to support metal leaching commenced operations in Mexico in 2014

and additional capacity is planned for Cuba for 2016 startup. This follows an

increase in sulfur-based production since 2011 to support metal leaching in Chile, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea.

As indicated, there will also be an

increase in sulfuric acid produced through smelting, adding additional supply to the merchant market. In 2014, new capacity

came on stream in Serbia and in Chile

(through roasting of arsenic concentrates).

In 2015 and beyond, new capacity will start up in China, Zambia, Namibia and most

likely Indonesia, and expansions will be

On the other hand, there will be a loss

Australia the Mount Isa smelter is slated to be closed in 2017, although there is the potential this could be extended. At

the same time, the Port Pirie smelter will expand its production capacity in 2017,

helping counterbalance some of the loss from Mount Isa.

In the United States, PotashCorp

(PCS) will curtail sulfur-based sulfuric acid production at its Geismar, La., facility

While there is an increase in sulfuric

acid demand forecast that would be met

most significant in the Latin American region and would effectively alter trade

flows there. New leach projects in Chile will require sulfuric acid, but at the same time some facilities are forecast to close.

This will ultimately reduce Chile’s overall import requirements, but a change in Peru will mean it will have less sulfuric acid to supply Chile. Historically, Peru has

in the second quarter 2015. This will result

supplied around 1 million tons per year to

merchant market to fulfill demand rather

Peru supplied Chile with 1.1 million tons,

is expected to tighten supply in the U.S.

Southern Copper is expected to commence

in the need for acid to be purchased in the

Chile to support copper leaching. In 2014,

than use internally-produced product. This

or 52 percent, of its import volume. In 2017,

Gulf coast region and allow for a higher

operation of its Tia Maria copper project in

volume of offshore imports. This marks the second closure by PCS, who idled

capacity at its White Springs, Fla., facility in July 2014. Then in late 2014, Mississippi Phosphates idled production of phosphate

fertilizer and associated sulfur-based

sulfuric acid at its Pascagoula operation. The PCS closure at White Springs and

the Mississippi Phosphates closure are not expected to have a significant impact on

the traded sulfuric acid market, as acid was

Peru, which will consume around 720,000

tons per year of sulfuric acid after ramping up. As a result, Peru will have less to

supply to Chile. Although Chile’s overall requirements will be lower, it will mean demand for sulfuric acid from alternative

markets, such as South Korea and Japan, will remain intact.

As this article has examined, there are

several factors impacting the outlook for

produced on-site for internal consumption.

the sulfuric acid market in terms of both

consumption in the United States. In

the end, the market will have to balance

regular importer of sulfuric acid from

for sulfuric acid. In the event demand does

expected need for import material to cover

to be reduced in order to keep product

It will, however, result in reduced sulfur

losses and gains in supply and demand. In

addition, Mississippi Phosphates was a

itself because of the limited storage options

offshore sources, mainly Europe, but the

not keep pace with supply, prices will have

the Geismar closure should counterbalance that loss of demand.

Meanwhile, by-product sulfuric acid

production will increase in the United States with the 2016 start up of the

Mississippi Power project, which will

create sulfuric acid through a gasification

process. In 2017, Freeport-McMoran will expand smelter capacity at its Miami, Ariz., facility.






global reports on sulfur and sulfuric acid as well as reports on fertilizer-related products including nitrogen, ammonia, potash and phosphate. North Americanspecific publications for both fertilizers and the sulfur/sulfuric acid markets are also available. Argus also offers consulting

In Canada, which supplies around

services, including single-client studies and

to the United States, a loss of production

acid supported by our proprietary supply

in 2017-2018, although the exact loss in

on Argus and its portfolio of fertilizer

subject to change.

com/fertilizer. q

2 million tons per year of sulfuric acid

presentation service for sulfur and sulfuric

is forecast from two smelting operations

and demand model. For more information

volume is unquantified at present and

publications, please visit www.argusmedia.

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015


Vertical pump sealing options: packing seals vs. mechanical seals

By: Martha Villasenor, Area Manager, Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps

Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps’ verti-

by-pass in the shaft column. Through this by-pass component, the circulating fluid cal pumps, used in molten sulfur, sulfuric lubricates the wetted bearing(s) and then acid and oleum applications, are typically returns to the tank or suction side of the installed with a packed stuffing box. This pump. This arrangement prevents liquid type of sealing arrangement works well pressurization at the stuffing box. because the packing is exposed only to the In the sulfur and sulfuric acid induspressure inside the vessel and the pumped tries, the wide use of pumps manufactured fluid never reaches the top of the stuffing by Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps is due, in box. Another feature of these pumps is a part, to their reputable trouble-free vertical packing seal design. In molten sulfur applications, the pump design prevents leakage and solidification of product that inherently occurs when using a horizontal pump. In sulfuric acid applications, the packing has to prevent hazardous fumes from being released into the atmosphere. One method of preventing emission of fumes is to induce a slight vacuum on the acid tanks. It is important to keep the vacuum on the tank to a minimum to keep moist atmospheric air from entering the system as this could lead Fig. 1: Weak acid formed by moist air entering with acid fumes. Dry-air/nitrogen to the entrance of moist air in the pump/ 10798_SAU_SAT_0208_R1:Layout 1 2/19/08 3:45 PM Page 1 purge was not used. tank, which can then cause build-up of

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Fig. 2: Fume containment arrangement.

iron sulfate and highly corrosive weak acid (Fig. 1). When using the deep stuffing box arrangement, it is recommended to use dry air or nitrogen at 2-5 SCFM at a pressure of 2-3 Psi (15-25 kPa) above the tank’s pressure, in order to eliminate fume emissions from the deep stuffing boxes. Emissions can be eliminated when tank pressures are higher than atmospheric pressure. The fume containment arrangement, as shown in Fig. 2, prevents the acid fumes from being emitted to the environment and also prevents moist atmospheric air from entering the pump. There are certain conditions under which the packing arrangement is not adequate. One such condition is when the pressure in the pump tank or tower exceeds atmospheric pressure and the pressure rating of the packing. Pressure on the packing is not to exceed 60 inches of water column (2.5–3 Psi gauge). Many acid plants have higher tower pressures that qualify for a mechanical seal rather than the packing arrangement. However, before changing out all of the deep stuffing box arrangements for the higher pressure accommodating mechanical seals, keep in mind that mechanical seals present their own challenges. Some of the most common issues are: sensitivity to installation errors; damage due to improper handling; lack of resistance to thermal shock; high cost; more time consuming to replace; gas cooling/gas lubrication required to prevent damage; and susceptibility to mechanical damage due to misalignment, cavitation, shaft deflection or shaft run out. Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps has multiple mechanical seal options, such as single mechanical seal graphite or tungsten carbide. Still another common option is a cartridge dual mechanical seal kit. Other seal options have been provided, depending

Tank Pressure (PT) Note: Location of dry air connection shown is applicable to Pump Sizes 7HR through 10H only. Dry air connection on all other pump sizes is located on Stuffing Box (part of Ball Bearing Housing).

on the application and requirements. For any of these options, using clean dry air or nitrogen for cooling the seal is necessary. The pressure of the air or gas needs to be 2-3 Psig above the maximum tank pressure. Gas lubrication will need to be provided to the seal at all times, otherwise sulfuric acid fumes can damage the seal components. When selecting appropriate mechanical seal materials that are chemically compatible with the different acid concentrations and temperatures, the pump design must be done within seal and pump manufacturer tolerances and guidelines. It is recommended that Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps determine the selection and design of the pump and mechanical seal. When using a mechanical seal, shaft deflection and run out are key factors that have to be considered to ensure trouble free operation of the pump and long, useful life of the mechanical seal. In summary, Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps vertical pumps can be used in most applications with just the packed stuffing box arrangement. Molten sulfur and standard sulfuric applications are mainly handled with this type of seal set-up. The vertical pump design prevents product from reaching the stuffing box. Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps recommends the installation of the fume containment dry air purge, as illustrated in Fig. 2, to prevent air entrainment and fume emissions. For applications where the differential pressure on the packing is greater than 2-3 Psig above atmospheric pressure, the packing seal arrangement will not be an option. The higher pressures will demand that a mechanical, gas-lubricated seal be integrated within the pump to handle the additional pressures. For further information, please contact Martha Villasenor of Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps at martha.villasenor@ weirminerals.com or (314) 272-6218. q Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

World-class Technology for Worldwide Markets We deliver a wide range of products and services, from engineering studies through to full EPC projects for the Sulphuric Acid Industry

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2001 Clements Road Pickering, ON, Canada, L1W 4C2 Tel: +1.905.619.5200 Fax: +1.905.619.5345 email: chemetics.equipment@jacobs.com


Chemetics Inc., a Jacobs company


Upgrades to sulfuric acid equipment—an evolutionary tale By: Guy Cooper, NORAM Engineering and Constructors Ltd.

In the beginning

In the mid-1700s, sulfuric acid was made in lead-lined wooden vessels through the reaction of sulfur dioxide, steam and nitrogen oxides in what was called the lead chamber process. In the 1900s the contact process became prominent with the use of a vanadium pentoxide catalyst. This process still forms the basis for sulfur dioxide oxidation and the production of sulfuric acid. In the past 50 years, sulfuric acid technology has progressed with three major improvements: —Materials of construction. From carbon steel and cast iron to stainless steels and high-silicon alloys for acid systems. —Process. From single absorption to double absorption, lowgrade heat recovery and SO2 scrubbing systems —New equipment designs. Radial flow gas exchangers, stainless steel converters with improved catalysts and anodically protected acid coolers. Let’s take a look at improvements made to the converter, the gas exchanger, and the acid system.


The dark ages: The proverbial heart of a sulfuric acid plant is the converter. Pre1980, converters had thick carbon steel shells, heavy cast iron grids, and posts and brick-lining in bed one and sometimes in bed two to keep shell temperatures appropriate for carbon steel. The thick shells were required to accommodate the strength reduction of carbon steel at the high operating temperatures. High temperature oxidation caused carbon steel flaking and subsequent fouling of downstream equipment, requiring metallizing of the first pass. However, the aluminum used in the metallizing would often flake off, requiring periodic reapplication.

Converter catalyst support with cast iron post and grids. PAGE 16

A three-catalyst bed configuration was typical, as most of the early acid plants were single contact, single absorption (SCSA). Catalyst activities were much lower than today and the pellet shape of catalyst created a high bed pressure drop. The age of enlightenment: The use of stainless steel in the 1980s revolutionized everything. This was especially pronounced in the design of stainless steel converters. Weldable metal that had good mechanical strength at temperatures up to 1,200 degrees F (650 degrees C) improved the converter designs with thinner walls, sealed division plates, internal exchangers, better internal support systems and reduced maintenance. Instead of resisting thermal expansion, some new converter designs embraced it, by allowing the shell to grow radially without causing any significant stress to the structure through the use of curved blooper (or dished) plates and sliding vessel supports. NORAM’s stainless steel post design allows the use of the full crosssectional area of the converter bed, avoiding the area lost to a core support. The posts can also be used to support an internal gas exchanger. Catalyst conversion: Catalyst also improved by leaps and bounds. Cylindrical pellets with high pressure drop and relatively modest conversion gave way in the 1970s to rings, and in the 1980s rings morphed into what various vendors refer to as stars, ribbed or daisy-shaped rings. In addition to shape improvements with lower pressure drop and an extended surface, the late 1980s saw the use of cesium-promoted catalyst. This metal additive reduced the catalyst strike temperature, improving the equilibrium and conversion, and went a long way toward serious emission reductions.

New NORAM converter with catalyst support posts and internal hot exchanger.

Double absorption adoption: During the 1970s and 80s, double absorption arrived on the scene, partly in response to the U.S. Clean Air Act of 1970. With the addition of an extra converter bed, exchangers and another absorption system, emissions plummeted from thousands to hundreds of ppm SO2. Different configurations were used including two beds before the new interpass tower followed by one bed after the interpass tower; and this is known as a 2:1 double contact double absorption (DCDA) system. Similarly, there are 3:1, 2:2, and 3:2 configuration systems with the 3:1 being the most common DCDA system today. Double absorption allowed some plants to increase their SO2 strength to the first pass from 7-8 percent to 11-12 percent, resulting in higher temperatures in the converter and hot exchanger. This further compounded the requirement for the use of stainless steel for these components.

Gas to gas heat exchangers

The heat is on: Over the past thirty years, gasto-gas exchanger designs have improved tremendously. Advancement has come in materials of construction and in the process design. Stainless takes over: In the good old days, hot exchangers, which see among the hottest temperatures in the plant, would be made out of carbon steel for the shell and the hot first pass gases would flow through tubes impregnated with aluminum (also known by the trade name Alonized). As with its use in converters, hot exchangers are now only fabricated from 304-type stainless steel. Stainless steel’s high temperature strength and corrosion resistance make it an easy choice for this service. Even for cold exchangers, especially replacements, most clients select stainless steel for its corrosion resistance and to help reduce sulfate fouling. Radial flow—circular is logical: In the early days, gas exchangers had shells crammed full of tubes. After all, shells are expensive and why not fill them up with tubes? That design may work well in the oil and gas industry, but for an industry

dealing with large volumes of low pressure, high temperature, corrosive and sometimes condensing gases, there is a better way. Technology providers developed the radial-flow gas exchanger, which had no tubes in the center of the shell bundle and the periphery, and the gas flowed radially between the outer and inner shell portions. This arrangement greatly increases the shell-film coefficient since all the tubes are in cross flow. Compared to double-segmental shell configuration, the radial flow exchanger can have over twice the heat transfer coefficient. And that means fewer and more efficient tubes, as well as greater thermal and mechanical symmetry.

address condensation with moderate success, including sacrificial heat exchanger, bimetallic tubes and thicker tube walls to allow more corrosion resistance. In the 1990s, NORAM (through CECEBE) patented the radial-flow, hot-sweep feature, where a portion of the hot shell gas is internally directed to the cold tubesheet. A warm tubesheet prevents condensation, is dry and sulfate-free. The hot-sweep feature is also used in SO3 coolers to greatly reduce the air flow necessary to keep the cold end above the dew point. For preheaters, turning a hot sweep to a cold sweep can significantly improve the thermal efficiency of the preheat exchanger.

Keeping the cold exchanger hot: Cold exchangers can get cold. Too cold. Especially in the zone of the exchanger where the cold SO2 gas is in thermal contact with the cool SO3 gas. In this area, condensing can occur; and for carbon steel exchangers, sulfate formation can clog the shell and the tubes. Various approaches have been tried to

Acid systems

Installation of new NORAM RFTM gas heat exchanger.

Demolition of old singlesegmental gas heat exchanger.

Large diameter towers: Early towers were carbon steel and brick lined, with small size packing, and were often installed in increasing sizes from bottom to top. Pall, Raschig and cross partition rings were common packing materials prior to 1970. Old towers often featured low irrigation rates, cast iron trough acid distributors and mesh pads for mist elimination. With the small-size packing, large diameter towers were required to keep the pressure drop from getting too high. The towers were brick lined and some designs offered flat floors to support the brick arches needed for the Aludur beam packing supports. After some years, acid leaks would develop on the tower bottom, caused by lining failure from the high point loads of the brick arches on the floor. The top tower shell section above the bricking was fabricated from carbon steel plate and the inevitable acid mist would result in large sulfate formation fouling the top of the acid tower. Musical coolers: The acid piping systems at that time were cast iron and the early-day acid coolers were cast iron pipe sections with an external water-spray. These coolers were called cascade coolers or, because they looked like a musical instrument with their convolutions, trombone acid coolers. They were prone to corrosion leaks requiring frequent acid plant shutdowns.

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

NORAM SX SMART™ distributor with external clean out ports.

SX trough-type distributor.

NORAM SX acid cooler.

NORAM acid cooler with anodic protection.

percent pressure drop of the conventional 3-inch standard saddles. This allows increased gas throughput or less energy consumption for the same gas flow. Distributors are now using long lasting high silicon alloy in a trough or a pipe format. The NORAM pipe distributor permits distributor cleanout from outside of the tower, negating the need for tower entry to

remove chips. For mist elimination, mesh pads in absorbing towers have been replaced with candles such as Brownian diffusion or impaction, and mist removal is now down to the submicron level. The acid coolers have undergone a tremendous change from cast-iron trombone to anodically protected shell and tube exchangers. Conversion from cast iron trombone coolers to anodically protected coolers resulted in a significant increase in acid plant onstream time. And now high silicon alloy acid coolers permit operation without anodic protection. For the piping systems, high silicon alloy can replace ductile iron piping with the benefits of light weight and significantly higher erosion resistance. They also remove the need for flanges and their potential leaks. Heat recovery systems are available that can convert heat lost to cooling water into low- to mediumpressure steam. New SO2 scrubbing systems using regenerative solvents are also gaining popularity.


NORAM SX Pump Tank and SX Acid Towers.

The modern era: Today’s acid system has improved significantly in all areas. High silicon alloys (SX, Zecor, Saramet) are sometimes used for the lower section, eliminating the need for bricking and permitting replacement in the same location within a two- or three-week annual shutdown. For brick lining, clients often request dome packing supports, which eliminate the need for the brick support arches and allow a dished bottom without point loads and an inherently more reliable shape. Above the acid distributor level, 316 stainless steel is used, which eliminates sulfate formation. This keeps the top section nice and clean. Tower packing is now typically a 3-inch ceramic saddle. Low pressure drop saddles such as NORAM’s No. 3 HPTM saddle as well as structured ceramic packing have improved the process. With the same or better mass transfer capability, NORAM’s No. 3 HPTM packing has only 50

HPTM low pressure saddles.

Change is good

Converters, catalysts, gas exchangers and acid systems have all made tremendous improvements in performance, operability and reduced maintenance over the past 50 years. These changes have come through material upgrades, design improvements in equipment and systems and new products. And as Shrek, the famous movie ogre, said, “Change is good, Donkey.” NORAM Engineering and Constructors Limited performs engineering studies and supplies better-than-average equipment at attractive prices for sulfuric acid plants. For more information, please e-mail sulfuric@ noram-eng.com, or call (604) 696-6910. q

Powell Sulfuric Acid Dilution System The Powell Sulfuric Acid Dilution Systems are engineered to continuously dilute 93% or 98% sulfuric acid to any lower strength. The systems are automatic and include pumps and cooling water systems for the safe, accurate dilution of the concentrated acid. Systems are available for all flow rates and diluted acid strengths. Features • Automatic Dilution • PLC Based Control System • Adjustable Batch Amounts or Flow Rates • Strong Acid and Water Supply Pumps • Skid Mounted, Fully Assembled

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  PAGE 17


PPE: The final answer to worker protection By: Darwin Passman, HR/Safety Director, VIP International

The best safety practice dealing with hazards of the workplace is called the Hierarchy of Hazard Control. There are five types of hazard controls. They are, in order of preference: 1. Elimination: Eliminate the hazard by physically removing it. For example, a manually operated valve may be positioned 12 feet above ground level, requiring a ladder to operate. Eliminate by repositioning the valve to ground level. 2. Substitution: Replace what produces the hazard with something that does not produce a hazard. The paint industry replaced lead-based paint with acrylic paint, thus removing the hazard. 3. Engineered controls: Isolate hazards from exposure to personnel. For example, ventilation at a workstation can remove airborne contaminants from the work area. 4. Administrative controls: Change the way people work by limiting or preventing people’s exposure to the hazards. Administrative controls include procedure changes, employee training signs and labels. 5. Personal protective equipment (PPE): Require workers to use the last line of defense against a hazard. This includes

gloves, respirators, hard hats, safety glasses, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and chemical-protective clothing. Despite the preference for controls noted in numbers one through four, PPE is often the only option for successfully completing the task. This is particularly true during a turnaround. Performing isolations, line-breaks and confined space entries requires extensive use of PPE during a sulfuric acid turnaround. Anytime there is a task with the possibility of exposure to sulfuric acid, full body protection is the best practice. The PPE should provide total protection from an uncontrolled release of acid. Line breaks are a good example of a task needing protection. During a line break, there is a potential for an uncontrolled release due to: • Plugged drain lines. • Valves that do not completely isolate the flow of acid. • False indication of the level of acid in a vessel. • Performing a line break on an energized line.


Jon Quarles retires from Acid Piping Technology After 47 years in the sulfuric acid industry, Jon Quarles has recently retired from his role as Marketing Director of Acid Piping Technology. He started his career in the agricultural division of Monsanto in 1967. In 1970, Quarles moved to Monsanto Enviro Chem Systems (now MECS Inc.), where he handled marketing and service for mist eliminators and sulfuric acid catalyst. After several years at MECS, Quarles spent a year at Lewis Pumps before Ed Knoll approached him about working for Acid Piping Technology, which was just getting started. “We started it together, building the building and getting the customers and getting the market lined up. When we started, there were only about 5 of us. Now, Acid Piping Technology has over 20 employees,” says Quarles. The size of the company isn’t the only change Quarles has noticed over the years. “I’ve seen acid plants go from 800-1,000 tons per


Jon Quarles recently retired from Acid Piping Technology after 47 years in the sulfuric acid industry.

day to up to 3,500-4,000 tons per day. As the plant size has grown, so has the piping they’ve used. It’s gone from 12-16 inch pipe all the way up to 30-36 inch pipe. Mist eliminators have improved in design, and newer, more active catalysts have been introduced.” “Another big change has been

the tightening of pollution control at the plants. SO2 emissions are much more controlled now. I’ve seen the industry progress in many, many ways.” Over the years, Quarles has worked on projects around the world, from Arizona to Morocco. “I’ve probably worked on 18 or 20 plants in Morocco for OCP,” Quarles says. Even retirement won’t keep Quarles from the industry he loves, though. “I’m looking forward to working on some hobbies and spending time with family,” he says. “If I could do some consulting, too, that would be great.” Acid Piping Technology specializes in engineered products for the sulfuric acid industry worldwide. The company maintains the world’s largest inventory of MONDI™ pipe and fittings for routine or emergency needs. For more information, please visit www.acidpiping.com. q

Once isolation has occurred and the line break is defined, the nearest safety shower or water source must be identified. The route from the line break to the water source must be reviewed with all personnel. The water source must be safe for human exposure, ensuring volume and pressure is sufficient for decontamination of PPE or direct use on the skin and eyes. Some facilities have line-break permits specifically designed to mitigate the hazards while others use a general work permit supplemented with a job safety analysis (JSA). These tools will follow the Hierarchy of Hazard Control to define the job scope, hazards involved, and mitigation or elimination of the hazards. Mitigation is the area where PPE is defined. Confined spaces are another area of concern. Confined space entries in the acid towers of a sulfuric acid plant will always require maximum protection. This is due to an environment with primarily concentrated acid or at a minimum low pH liquid exposure. All facilities have confined space permits that address the mitigation or elimination of hazards present. Confined spaces are monitored to ensure the atmosphere is breathable. If atmospheric hazards exist, ventilation and/or respiratory protection is used to ensure safe entry. If the work involves confined space entry or line breaks, the potential exposure is elevated. The PPE must protect the worker against significant and probable exposure. If the potential exposure is low, such as working on the deck of a confined space, PPE should be defined accordingly. Confined space entries in the converter of a sulfuric acid plant require PPE for atmospheric protection from sulfur dioxide, NOx and dust. The physical hazard is primarily catalyst dust exposure to skin. PPE selection must protect against inhalation of dust and skin exposure. High levels of exposure may require respiratory protection with a high level of skin protection. Low levels of exposure may only require basic PPE for the site. When atmospheric testing reveals toxics in the atmosphere, OSHA mandates the respiratory protection required for the toxics. Once PPE is defined, it’s crucial that all employees receive adequate training prior to performing turnaround work. This training should include use and limitations, donning and doffing, decontamination of PPE and storage or disposal of PPE. Performance-based training is also necessary to be sure that work functions can be performed appropriately with the PPE. If respiratory protection is required, the employee must receive a medical examination, pulmonary function test and respirator fit-test in addition to other training. If the Hierarchy of Hazard Control system dictates the implementation of PPE, identify the best PPE for the task and make sure the worker is medically fit and properly trained in its use and limitations. Finally, one of the most important components for the safe and effective use of PPE is the mindset of the worker. Each worker must feel comfortable and competent with the PPE worn and the task performed. The mindset of the worker is critical to the proper use of PPE; they should feel comfortable, protected and confident to perform each assigned task. For more information, please contact Darwin Passman of VIP International at (225) 753-8575. q Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

Sulfuric Acid Catalyst

Unmatched emission reduction - hit your targets Stronger regulatory requirements for SO2 emissions are raising the bar for many acid producers. VK-701 LEAP5™ catalyst can help meet these demanding targets. Topsoe specializes in advanced catalyst technologies and we aim to provide the most cost efficient catalyst solution. This will offer you significant SO2 reductions, save you energy and give you longer turnaround cycles - we call this optimal performance.

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Saint-Gobain NorPro ceramic technology provides proven reliability

Since the company’s start in 1859 in Akron, Ohio, Saint-Gobain NorPro has developed into a major international supplier of ceramic-based products. Strategically located manufacturing facilities in Asia, Europe and the United States maintain the strictest product and material standards and provide the same high quality to customers globally. The two key materials manufactured by Saint-Gobain NorPro for optimum durability and chemical resistance in strong acid applications are Aludur® ceramic and Proware™ ceramic.

Aludur® ceramic

Saint-Gobain NorPro developed Aludur® ceramic over 50 years ago to provide the added strength necessary for large structural ceramic bodies like grid bars. This material is three to four times stronger than other ceramics and provides excellent corrosion resistance even at elevated temperatures. Aludur® ceramic resists all

alkalis, solvents and acids, except hydrofluoric acid. It is highly resistant to thermal shock, which is an important characteristic of large, monolithic ceramic parts. Aludur® ceramic became established as the industry standard for grid bar assemblies used as packing support in traditional brick-lined acid towers.

Aludur® ceramic grid bars

Aludur® ceramic bars assembled into a support grid are the traditional means of supporting the packing in brick-lined sulfuric acid absorbers, dryers and other highly corrosive applications. The use of Aludur® grid bar assemblies is widespread in older towers and can still be favored in new construction, especially with larger diameter towers. The support grid is created from multiple bars placed in parallel across the tower diameter and resting on a support ledge of acid-proof bricks along the tower’s brick lining. In larger diameter towers, the bars

Proware™ ceramic grid blocks can be placed above grid bars installed on 8-inch centers.

Aludur® ceramic became established as the industry standard for grid bar assemblies used as packing support in traditional bricklined acid towers.

are also supported by intermediate spans constructed of brick arches that rest on the dished bottom head of the tower, keeping the bricks in compression. Grid bar assemblies have been used in a wide range of tower sizes with spans added to suit the tower diameter.

Proware™ ceramic

overflow ->

Saint-Gobain NorPro’s Proware™ ceramic material is mechanically stronger, less porous and considerably more chemically resistant than typical stoneware. This tightly controlled material is much smoother, more finely-grained and vitreous than typical stoneware and is virtually iron-free. Proware™ ceramic is the standard material for all NorPro® packing products for acidic applications.

Proware™ ceramic grid blocks

Grid bar assemblies are installed using a secondary layer of packing support. That secondary layer is typically composed of grid blocks placed above adjacent grid bars, which allow the bars to be installed on 8-inch centers. This configuration provides an optimal 59 percent open area for gas and liquid flow. Older designs often used a more flow restrictive 6-inch centerline bar spacing with cross-partition rings. A packing support system of Aludur® grid bars and Proware™ grid blocks will retain a minimum 2-inch saddle size. PAGE 20

Proware™ ceramic saddles provide better liquid/gas contact than comparably sized standard saddles.

Proware™ ceramic saddles

Ceramic packing enhances mass transfer by providing a large area of contact between the gas and liquid phases entering the tower. Saint-Gobain NorPro was the originator of the industry standard Intalox® ceramic saddle and continues to manufacture Norton™ saddles in acid-resistant Proware™ ceramic. For optimal performance, the unique scalloped edge of the Norton™ super saddle provides better liquid/gas contact and lower pressure drop than comparably sized 1” and 2” standard saddles.

Proven technology

Aludur® ceramic grid bar assemblies typically have a long service life. When repair or replacement of the original assembly is required, Saint-Gobain NorPro can supply individual 8” or 10” bars or complete new assemblies in the Aludur® ceramic material. Saint-Gobain NorPro’s adherence to strict process and material control in our ISO 9001:2008 certified manufacturing sites ensures consistent physical properties and quality. Traditional Aludur® ceramic bars, Proware™ grid blocks and Norton™ saddles can be the immediate product solutions for acid tower repair or replacement. For more information, please visit www.norpro.saint-gobain.com. q Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

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Sulfuric acid production and sulfur recovery demand for technologies which ensure highest levels of availability and energy-sensitive operation. With its pre-designed turbocompressors and its reputation for reliability and efficiency, Siemens provides the perfect solution for both production and recovery. Siemens’ outstanding expertise and comprehensive research & development have produced a technology which guarantees mechanical durability and

resistance to wear, especially under severe operating conditions. The STC-SOF, STC-GO and STC-SOR compressor series meet – and even exceed – these stringent requirements. Siemens’ pre-designed turbocompressors have proven to be more efficient than conventional solutions in the longer term. Thus, Siemens is meeting the future demands of the sulfur industry even today.



Improving plant performance using ® state-of-the-art MECS catalysts

By: Sarah Richardson, Senior Catalyst Product Engineer, MECS, Inc.

Andrea Trapet, Vice President of Catalyst, MECS, Inc.

Major sulfuric acid plant producers worldwide have installed MECS® catalyst since the 1920s. Over the past 90 years, the dedicated research and development team at MECS, Inc. (MECS) has evolved catalyst from pellets to energy-saving rings to low-emission cesiumpromoted catalyst. As energy savings and environmental concerns create new operational and design challenges for sulfuric acid plants, innovations in catalyst technology provide the solution. This article will detail the MECS® catalyst portfolio of vanadium-based and cesium-promoted catalysts for sulfuric acid, including the latest innovations, GEAR® catalyst and improved formulation cesium catalyst. The benefits of lower SO2 emissions, increased acid production, energy savings and longer production cycles through utilization of these contemporary catalyst products will be explored.

A rich history of catalyst developments

Driving innovation in the sulfuric acid market since the 1920s, MECS remains the industry leader in technology, engineering and equipment dedicated to sulfuric acid producer’s needs. Major sulfuric acid plants worldwide have installed MECS® catalyst and have benefited from the technical developments offered by MECS over the years. With a comprehensive understanding of sulfuric acid plants, MECS product innovations and customer service offerings continue to provide benefits far beyond that of catalyst. Sulfuric acid catalyst history began with platinumbased catalysts, which were expensive, unreliable and easily poisoned. Through a partnership in research and development between various independent entities and corporations (including MECS), a new vanadium-based catalyst formula was developed. The first installation of MECS® catalyst occurred in 1925 when a vanadium-

based, pellet-shaped catalyst was shipped to the Monsanto Chemical Works plant in Sauget, Ill. This catalyst remained the industry standard until the 1960s, when MECS developed and introduced a new formula of catalyst designed specifically for the low SO2 and kinetically-hindered conditions located in beds three and four of the standard sulfuric acid plant converter. The new catalyst provided higher activity per unit volume with the identical catalyst dimensions and resulting pressure drop of the existing catalyst. The advent of this new catalyst formula in the early 1960s marked a major improvement in the overall acid plant process. Due to major societal concerns regarding the environment and energy consumption in the 1970s, the industry began to focus on technology and products that could respond to these challenges. MECS offered a catalyst solution in the form of a larger diameter pellet and then a new type of catalyst shape, called a “Raschig” ring. These catalysts lowered pressure drop across the converter and provided higher activity. In addition, MECS focused on reducing acid plant costs by developing more robust catalysts offering lower screening losses. The 1990s saw an increased need for production efficiency and reduced SO2 emissions. MECS responded to these needs with the introduction of a cesium-promoted catalyst, which took advantage of the low temperature properties of the cesium promoter. This catalyst generated excellent SO2 conversion at bed inlet temperatures from 55 to 75 degrees F (30 to 40 degrees C) lower than conventional catalysts. The low temperature activation allowed for new acid plant designs with dramatically lower SO2 emissions as well as improving the conversion performance of existing double and single absorption acid plants. MECS® Catalyst Research and Development continued to innovate in the form of shape modifications and formula enhancements. Ribbed ring catalysts, with much lower pressure drop characteristics, as well as increased activity offered by a larger surface area, were developed for both the vanadium-based and cesium-promoted catalyst formulas. The ribbed ring products quickly became

MECS® Sulfuric Acid Catalyst Research Laboratories, circa 1950s and present.


MECS ® Catalyst Shapes, left to right, GEAR ® hexa-lobed ring, XLP ribbed ring, LP ring, and pellet.

the industry standard due to their high performance and low pressure drop. With these introductions, MECS offered sulfuric acid plant producers a strong portfolio of catalyst products with benefits applicable for a multitude of operating requirements. With a continued focus on energy savings and performance improvement, MECS expanded their catalyst portfolio yet again in 2011. MECS is the only catalyst manufacturer to offer GEAR® catalyst, using a unique hexa-lobed ring shape which, combined with an improved catalyst formula, has demonstrated better conversion performance, lower pressure drop and improved dust handling. By geometrically optimizing the catalyst shape, GEAR® catalyst offers more surface area for access to active sites than any other catalyst on the market. In addition, when loaded into a catalyst bed, the hexalobed ring shape creates a catalyst bed configuration that increases spacing between the catalyst rings, lowering pressure drop significantly over other manufacturer’s catalyst.

Innovative new product introductions

An interesting extension of the unique GEAR® catalyst properties is offered for customers who would benefit from combining the low temperature benefits of cesium-promoted catalysts with a GEAR® catalyst shape. An example would be an existing acid plant with one of the following challenges: —High dust contamination in the gas stream (such as metallurgical plants or sulfur burning plants with varying quality of sulfur in the feed) —Desire to increase throughput without increasing pressure drop or emissions The demonstrated superior dust handling provided by the hexa-lobed ring shape of the GEAR® catalyst, especially in pass one, inspired the addition of GEAR® cesium catalyst, GR-Cs, to the MECS® catalyst portfolio. Sulfuric acid plant converters operating with lower bed-inlet temperatures have the opportunity to upgrade to GEAR® cesium catalyst for energy savings and excellent dust handling. The most recent product enhancement developed by MECS® Catalyst Research and Development is a minor, but high activity boosting modification to the well-established Super Cesium SCX-2000 cesium catalyst formula. This proprietary formula improvement positively affected the SCX-2000 cesium catalyst activity, offering customers higher performance in the fourth and fifth Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

Start-Up Values Normalized

PeGASys (10 months later)




1 Inlet SO2 (%)




Pass 1 dP (mm w.c.)




Pass 1 dP (mm w.c.)




Pass 1 dP (mm w.c.)




Pass 1 dP (mm w.c.)




Total dP (mm w.c.)




Plant Rate (MTPD)

catalyst allows a customer to achieve lower SO2 emissions through higher catalyst activity and better conversion or the ability to operate at a lower bed inlet temperature of 385 degrees C (725 degrees F).

The GEAR® and SCX-2000 innovations join the rest

of the MECS portfolio offering catalyst solutions to major sulfuric acid producers placing their confidence in MECS technology and know-how.

Proven MECS catalyst excellence ®

The low pressure drop, high-performance benefits

of MECS catalyst are currently being enjoyed by the ®

Fluorsid II sulfuric acid plant in Italy. This plant selected

GEAR® catalyst with Super Cesium SCX-2000 in the final pass for their recent new plant designed by MECS.

After a smooth start-up in 2013, MECS technicians vis-

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

converter size and fixed catalyst volumes, MECS knew

that Fluorsid II needed high performance catalyst. The premium GEAR® catalyst combined with high-activity

Super Cesium SCX-2000 catalyst offered exactly the required characteristics to meet Fluorsid’s stringent design criteria.

Specifically, Fluorsid requested that MECS offer

them the ability to produce 10 percent more sulfuric acid

than the design capacity. After optimizing the catalyst

Fluorsid II converter pressure drop data.

converter passes. The improved formula SCX cesium

achieve higher production and lower emissions with a set

ited the plant to perform a PeGASyS (MECS proprietary Portable Gas Analysis System) test, to evaluate the plant performance on a pass-by-pass basis. At Fluorsid, the PeGASyS test demonstrated that the GEAR® catalyst pressure drop after 10 months of service was lower than typical daisy-shaped catalyst at clean pressure drop. Pass one showed no pressure drop build-up after 10 months of operation. Low SO2 emissions and higher production than name plate were also design criteria for the Fluorsid II Plant. Fluorsid returned to MECS for their new plant design after successfully operating Fluorsid I with MECS® sulfuric acid technology for several years. For Fluorsid II, the company wanted to maximize acid production, minimize SO2 emission and reduce capital expenditures by reusing the Plant I converter design. This requirement meant that there was no flexibility to add converter passes or additional catalyst in the new plant. In order to

design using the same converter specifications as the

previous plant, Fluorsid was able to run at 110 percent of design capacity with low pressure drop. The Fluorsid

SO2 stack analyzers showed lower SO2 emissions than permitted, thus illustrating the ability of MECS to meet customer’s unique design challenges.

MECS is known for its proven sulfuric acid catalyst

portfolio and catalyst designs based on practical experience and extensive plant knowledge. But, MECS offers the client more than just catalyst. MECS offers world-

class knowledge of sulfuric acid, innovative technologies and proprietary products for the entire acid plant. Local, personalized service and technical services are

also offered for troubleshooting, maintenance, training

and optimization, as well as maintenance planning support. MECS offers everything the client needs to achieve optimal sulfuric acid plant performance.

For more information, please visit www.mecsglobal.com. q

  PAGE 25




The world’s first “live” observations of sulfuric acid catalysis

By: Kurt Christensen, Filippo Cavalca, Pablo Beato and Stig Helveg of Haldor Topsøe

Scientific advances depend on knowledge gained through observation, but what do you do when you can’t observe a process you’d like to advance? Take catalysis: It’s difficult to observe catalysis at work, because you can’t get inside a working reactor. You can observe the results of a reaction, but you can’t observe the reaction itself. Or at least you couldn’t until recently. At Haldor Topsøe, our whole culture revolves around knowledge. Since you can’t apply knowledge unless you have it to begin with, we spend enormous amounts of time and money on knowledge acquisition. In fact, we invest 11 percent of our annual turnover – far more than our competitors – into understanding our catalysts and the processes they’re involved in. Since knowledge acquisition usually starts with asking questions, we are famous for asking a lot of them – even if they seem silly or naïve. As part of our work to even further optimize our VK catalyst for SO2 oxidation, we started thinking that there must be some way to observe the SO2 oxidation process directly. If we can’t go to the reaction, we asked, can we make the reaction come to us? We had pioneered some transmission electron microscopy (TEM) techniques that could enable us to observe a live reaction, but we had to find a way to trigger the reaction in the microscope and to prevent the sulfur from corroding the microscope’s objective lens and field emitter, and thus

After modifying the microscope we were able to observe the VK catalyst working under chemically meaningful reaction conditions.

impeding its imaging capabilities. To solve the first problem, we developed a novel technique for crushing a VK-type catalyst into powder and dispersing it over micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) devices, before introducing the SO2 and O2 reactants and heating the catalyst in the electron microscope. Then we modified the microscope to protect it from exposure to the SO2 reactant, the SO3 product and temperatures up to 1,100 degrees F during the reaction. Achieving this led to the world’s first live observation of the VK catalyst at work under chemically meaningful reaction conditions.

In situ TEM of dynamic changes of the model catalyst during exposure to 10 mbar of 50 percent SO2 and 50 percent O2 (a) at 350 degrees C (b) at 600 degrees C and (c) after cooling to 350 degrees C and reheating to 600 degrees C. The sphere diameter is 100 nm.

Triggering the reaction in the instruments enabled us to employ both TEM imaging and Raman spectroscopy to study the reaction, which is especially useful since the active phase of sulfuric acid catalysis involves a liquid film of vanadia dissolved in pyrosulfate and distributed dynamically throughout the carrier’s pore system. By observing this dynamic behavior directly at nanometer resolution, we are learning a great deal about the process and our own catalyst – which will lead to even more improvements in our catalyst and process designs going forward. Until then, we look forward to presenting the results of our work in detail at the 2015 AIChE Clearwater Conference in June. We hope to see you there! For more information, please visit www.topsoe.com. q

A Reliable Source for the Sulfuric Acid Industry Roberts’ core business is to provide construction solutions, resources and support for facility owners and managers in the sulfuric acid industry. We strive for long-term relationships with our customers – relationships built around dependability, responsiveness, results and more importantly, trust.

Our business is about finding solutions for your business.

For more information, visit www.robertscompany.com | www.ppsengineers.com

Engineering + Fabrication + Construction + Maintenance Services PAGE 26

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015



Case histories from the sulfuric acid industry

By: Orlando Perez, OP & Associates Ltd. – H2SO4 Consultants

Cart before the horse

Gas-gas exchangers upstream of the interpass and final absorption towers in double contact, double absorption metallurgical and spent acid regeneration plants are prone to sulfate blockage in the SO2 and SO3 sides. The attendant loss in heat transfer efficiency increases the gas temperature into the absorber towers, thereby increasing mist formation as well as increasing the load to the acid coolers. In addition, it also decreases the temperature into the catalyst bed downstream. The increase in pressure drop due to the sulfate blockage not only causes a reduction in production capacity, but also can breach the divider plate between catalyst beds. The breach will cause SO3 to bypass the absorbing tower. All these will result in an increase in stack SO2 and acid mist emissions. The sulfate blockage is normally the symptom of poor equipment design, improper operation and/or non-maintenance of the pieces of equipment upstream. Fig. 1 shows sulfate blockage in the shell side of a cold reheat exchanger with stainless steel tubes. The SO2 gas passages are almost entirely blocked. Fig. 2 shows sulfate blockage in the tube side of a cold reheat exchanger. The inner 10 rows of tubes are entirely

blocked for SO3 gas passage. To solve the blockage problem, some plants choose to correct the symptom rather than address the root cause. The exchanger is replaced with some modifications when all the sulfate removal techniques in their arsenal have been exhausted. Reversing the SO3 flow from the traditional downward flow inside tubes and changing the material of construction to stainless steel are some of the techniques used. All these have proved to be inadequate and after less than three years in operation, the plant is back to square one. Cases in point are shown in Fig. 3 where SO2 gas was switched with the traditional upward flow in the shell side to downward flow inside the tubes, and in Fig. 4 where SO3 gas flow was reversed from the traditional downward flow inside the tubes to upward

Fig. 3: Cold exchanger with SO2 flowing down inside tubes.

Fig. 4: Cold exchanger with SO3 flowing up inside tubes. Fig. 1: Sulfate blockage on shell side.

flow inside the tubes. All these modifications were in vain. Fig. 5 shows a photo of the divider plate between beds three and four. A portion of the circumferential weld on the sidewall cracked due to the high-pressure drop in the cold reheat exchanger.


Fig. 5: Divider plate between beds 3 and 4.

Acid-damaged catalyst

Fig. 7: Catalyst damage along sidewall perimeter.

Taken for granted

Fig. 8: Water ingress through the cladding of an expansion joint.

Weather protection or cladding for thermal insulation on hot pieces of equipment, ducting and piping is the fixed asset that is widely taken for granted in most acid plants. Once installed, it is forgotten. And when it gets damaged from people stepping on it, blown by the wind or other causes, it rarely gets the attention like the other pieces of equipment in the plant do. Cladding is important in that it protects the thermal insulation from the elements, preventing water ingress. Water is detrimental to any thermal insulation system. With the proper weatherproof construction design to accommodate expansion and contraction movements and with the necessary flashings and seals, ingress of water is eliminated. However, this is not always the case, as shown in Fig. 6 where the cladding on the roof of a converter has been badly deformed due to improper design, not accounting for the expansion/contraction of the cladding. In this particular case, the water that en-

Fig. 6: Cladding on roof of converter.

the insulation contractor. Someone with know-how and experience on how the equipment operates should review the design.

Bridging the gap

Lesson learned Do not put the cart before the horse! Correct the root cause of the problem first before replacing the exchanger. Replacement designs should be given due diligence by an independent consultant who has knowledge and experience in the operation and maintenance of the equipment.

Weld crack along sidewall

Fig. 2: Sulfate blockage on tube side.


tered through the gaps ran down the sidewall of the converter and cooled the metal, causing condensation of acid on the catalyst along the perimeter of the sidewall. Fig. 7 shows the catalyst damage caused by acid condensation. Fig. 8 shows evidence of water ingress through the cladding of an expansion joint due to inadequate flashing and sealing. The

Expansion joints are piping components that are designed to accommodate thermal and mechanical changes in the piping system. They are usually made up of a series of convolutions forming a bellow, which is flexible enough to compensate for axial, lateral and/or angular movements. Expansion joints are often installed where expansion loops cannot be made due to limited space. If properly designed, installed and maintained, piping expansion joints should last a long time. Their use, however, in sulfuric acid piping should only be the last resort as they are the weak link in the piping system. Fig. 10 shows an expansion joint for a product-acid piping that is incorrectly applied. Based on the inspection of the piping run and considering the operating temperature of the product acid, the need for an expansion joint is not required. This particular expansion joint, however, was installed to bridge the gap from misalignment caused by poor pipefitting. The expansion joint is permanently deformed and poses a safety hazard to everyone in the area.

Fig. 9: Badly deformed and cracked expansion joint convolution.

sudden cooling of the hot metal badly deformed the convolution and created cracks in the metal, as shown in Fig. 9. Lesson learned Never take for granted the cladding for thermal insulation of hot pieces of equipment, ducting and piping. Cladding, like any other acid plant equipment, should be given regular inspections. When damage is found, it should be repaired at the most opportune time. Design of the cladding should not rest entirely on

Fig. 10: Expansion joint in a ductile iron piping system for product acid in the cold position.

Lesson learned Misapplication of expansion joints can have serious consequences to the health and safety of everyone in the area. Always

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

In a hurry to startup

Maintenance turnarounds in acid plants can be very stressful. There are pressures coming from everywhere: pressure to finish the work on time, pressure to keep the cost on budget, pressure to get back on line as quickly as possible. So when an opportunity to save time comes around, management often jumps on it. Such is the case for a spent acid regeneration plant. Operations decided to get a jump on starting up the plant while work progressed in the acid circulation of the brick-lined final absorber tower. This particular acid plant is a 3+1 double-contact, double-absorption unit with the catalyst beds in stand-alone vessels. The 4th catalyst bed is equipped with its own preheating system. Preheating started with no acid circulation in the final tower. Towards the end of the preheating cycle, an alarm went off in the stack monitoring system and a visible plume was noticed coming out of the stack. During preheating, the SO2/SO3 that was trapped in the catalyst during the cool down process prior to the turnaround was released when the catalyst started to liquefy. Without acid circulating in the final absorbing tower, the SO3 just went through the packed section unabsorbed

by the acid that was held up in the packing. In addition to creating stack emissions, putting hot gas in a brick-lined acid tower without the cooling effect of acid circulation is very risky. There is very high probability of collapsing the packing support and damaging the brick lining and packing at the bottom section when acid circulation is turned on due to thermal shock. Lesson learned During preheating of the converter beds, ensure that the absorber towers have acid circulation in them to absorb SO3 that may be released when the catalyst starts to liquefy. Also, this will eliminate the possibility of damaging or collapsing the packing support. Disclaimer: OP & Associates Ltd.– H2SO4 Consultants is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance on any information contained herein. Readers should take specific advice before applying any information contained in this publication. For more information, contact Orlando Perez at 360-746-8028 or orlando. perez@h2so4consultants.com, or visit www.h2so4consultants.com. q

Roberts continues to expand offerings WINTERVILLE, N.C.— Roberts, a fully integrated engineering, fabrication, construction and plant maintenance company, continues to impress customers in the sulfuric acid industry with its quick response and quality workmanship. Recent projects have allowed several of Roberts clients to expand product offerings, improve plant processes and extend the life of their equipment. Mosaic, featured in this edition, relied on Roberts’ extensive experience in the industry to provide the necessary work for several projects. The first was a new MECS Heat Recovery System™ (HRS). Mosaic also tapped Roberts to provide site prep, concrete and pilings for their Micro Essentials™ project, one


Roberts recently worked on one of Mosaic’s largest projects to date.

of the largest projects Mosaic has undertaken. Roberts’ quick turnaround at Rentech Nitrogen, disconnecting an old acid converter and installing a new, larger converter and associated ducting in their sulfuric

A recent job for Rentech Nitrogen provided improved heat recovery and less downtime.

acid plant, will allow the company many years of continued operation. Improved heat recovery and less downtime from a system that operates at peak performance are just some of the benefits of this project. The sulfuric acid industry continues to rely on Roberts for its multitude of capabilities and vast knowledge. As a long-time service provider, Roberts has proven time and time again to be reliable, efficient and responsive. This leads customers to return for a variety of projects, including new project design, project management, plant maintenance services and repairs, as well as shutdowns, turnarounds and fast track emergency response. For more information, please visit www. robertscompany.com. q

(Sulphuric Acid Resistant Metal)

Experience: • The first silicon SS in the sulphuric acid industry, introduced in 1982 • Originally developed and patented for sulphuric acid service by Chemetics • In house metallurgists and corrosion specialists Features and Benefits: • Fully weldable - Eliminates most flanges - Can be supplied in modular spools, and field welded for final fit-up • Corrosion resistant - Long life reliability - High velocity limits reduce line sizes - Reduced iron in product acid • Resilient, high ductility and strength resists catastrophic failure Chemetics stocks $5 Million inventory of plate, pipe, fittings and tubes maintained for urgent fabrication service

Innovative solutions for your Sulphuric Acid Plant needs Chemetics Inc.

Chemetics Inc.


Chemetics Inc., a Jacobs company

(headquarters) Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Tel: +1.604.734.1200 Fax: +1.604.734.0340 email: chemetics.info@jacobs.com

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

(fabrication facility) Pickering, Ontario, Canada Tel: +1.905.619.5200 Fax: +1.905.619.5345 email: chemetics.equipment@jacobs.com

  PAGE 29


consult with a piping stress engineer for the proper type and application of expansion joints prior to installation.


WESPs prove versatile in acid plant applications

Advanced wet electrostatic precipitators demonstrate superior gas-cleaning performance in installations around the world By: Michael Beltran, President and CEO, Beltran Technolgies, Inc.

Advanced gas cleaning and emission control strategies continue to evolve in response to increasingly stringent environmental mandates worldwide, as well as to the increasing complexity, toxicity and corrosiveness of industrial exhaust and process gas streams. For industries in which concentrations of sulfur compounds exceed five to seven percent of exhaust gas volumes, downstream sulfuric acid manufacturing plants represent a common and cost-effective solution for cleaning these gases while capitalizing on the reliable market values for purified sulfuric acid, a primary industrial chemical with hundreds of applications. However, an efficient sulfuric acid manufacturing process requires the maximum possible removal from input gas streams of fine particulates, acid mists, condensable organic compounds and other contaminants. This is necessary for protecting sensitive acid plant components from corrosion, fouling and plugging, as well as for preventing the formation of a “black” or contaminated acid end product. Proper gas cleaning also reduces longterm costs of maintenance, operations and

Beltran engineered WESP installation at Rockwood Pigment.

Beltran engineered WESPs installation at Votorantim Metals.

equipment replacement. To reduce contaminants before entering the sulfuric acid plant, plant owners have relied on several gas cleaning techniques, such as cyclones, scrubbers and mist eliminators. These systems can control large particulates, but are usually inefficient or ineffective on fine particulates, acid mists or condensed organic compounds. Therefore, owners continue to turn to modern wet electrostatic precipitators (WESPs), which can clean complex gaseous emissions of particulates and acid mists down to submicron scale (PM 2.5) with up to 99.9 percent efficiency.

Today, advanced WESPs are designed around a multistage system of ionizing rods with star-shaped discharge points. These are encased within square or hexagonal tubes that are lined with grounded collection surfaces. The unique electrode geometry generates a corona field 4-5 times stronger than that of conventional wet or dry ESPs, propelling even submicron-size particulates and sulfuric acid droplets toward the collection surfaces, where they adhere as cleaned gas is passed through. The surfaces are intermittently cleansed of residues by recirculating water sprays. The cool, saturated environment in the WESP makes the system highly effective on condensable or oily compounds, while the continuous aqueous flushing process prevents re-entrainment of particles, sticky residue build-ups and unfavorable particle resistivity. By eliminating the need for mechanical or acoustical rappers of dry ESPs, the wet cleansing process also minimizes energy and maintenance costs. With virtually no physical or mechanical obstruction of gas streams, there is very little pressure drop through the WESP, and gas velocities can be extremely high. This enables plant engineers to use smaller-scale, less costly equipment for specific gas volumes and still achieve superior collection efficiencies. The use of smaller, simpler equipment also means lower maintenance and energy costs. Versatile and adaptable to a wide range of operating conditions, modern WESPs engineered by Beltran Technologies, Inc, of Brooklyn, NY, are currently producing excellent results worldwide for a host of industrial applications, including the following examples.

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06/03/2015 15:54


Brazil’s Votorantim Metais purchased Companhia Paraibuna de Metais seeking to expand production capacity and zinc resources. As part of a campaign to incorporate “Zero Waste” principles, the company incorporated a metallurgical sulfuric acid plant to capture and commercialize industrial quality sulfuric

acid originating from its fluidized bed zinc roaster. To purify the smelter emissions entering the acid plant, Paraibuna had used a variety of techniques, including lead mist precipitators, which were not sufficient to thoroughly clean the contaminated gas streams. In addition, the equipment suffered significant deterioration after years of operation due to the harsh, corrosive nature of the metallic gas stream components. The company found a solution in a system of wet electrostatic precipitators (WESPs) engineered by Beltran Technologies. The Beltran precipitators were designed for durability, using specially formulated fiberglass-reinforced plastics (FRP), a corrosion-resistant composite material made of a polymer matrix reinforced with fibers. These materials were used in sensitive components and housings and a special conductive FRP was used for the WESP collector plates. At the Paraibuna zinc smelter, the Beltran WESPs have been operating for over 15 years at up to 99.5 percent cleaning efficiency on fine particulates and acid mists. The company expects to produce 45,000 tons of marketable sulfuric acid annually.

Chemical processing

Rockwood Pigments, a global manufacturer of pigment products for diversified industries, chose a Beltran WESP system to clean process gas streams at a sulfuric acid plant at its Easton, Pa., manufacturing facilities. Rockwood is the second largest manufacturer in the world of iron oxide and other inorganic color pigments used by paint and coatings producers to add vibrant, long-lasting color to an array of materials, products and structures. The corrosive nature of Rockwood’s flue gases demanded that special attention be given to the materials of construction. The Beltran WESP was fabricated using fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) and high nickel-chromium alloys instead of lead. Besides being extremely corrosion resistant, FRP components are also less expensive and easier to construct and maintain. The electrically conductive sections of the WESP are made from special conductive FRP. The system designed and engineered for Rockwood has achieved an overall efficiency of ≥99.5 percent, and has resulted in greater energy savings and lower total operating costs for Rockwood Pigments. Michael R. Beltran is president and CEO of Beltran Technologies, Inc. For more information, please contact him at beltran@earthlink.net, or visit www. beltrantechnologies.com. q Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015


Advancements in sulfur spraying: new hybrid gun and predictive modeling

Reduce the operating pressure drop of your process, improve the throughput of your vessels, and lower your maintenance costs by using Kimre - the highest performing products possible. HIGH REMOVAL EFFICIENCY • LOW PRESSURE DROP • LONGER FILTER LIFE • LOW OPERATING & MAINTENANCE COSTS EASY INSTALLATION & REMOVAL • SIZED TO FIT ANY VESSEL CUSTOM DESIGNED FOR YOUR PERFORMANCE NEEDS


Brownian Diffusion Candle Filter

b-goN® MIst ElIMINAtoRs

Using modeling tools to optimize spray performance and identify potential failures

Impaction Candle Filter

• Using high efficiency media, the Kimre™ Candle Fiber Bed Filter can achieve efficiencies greater than 99.9% on particles smaller than 1 micron. • Mat and roving media allow custom designed composite beds. • Designed to meet the specific requirements of each plant. • Kimre offers exact replacements of existing elements in many plants.

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, 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.

• Combines the best features of knitted mesh and plate-type mist eliminators. • High efficiency, low pressure drop • The most pluggage resistant mist eliminators available • The best option for drying tower mist eliminators • Easy to clean, reusable media. • Designed to meet the specific requirements of each plant.

We achieve flexibility in design by having a broad range of options

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

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

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

MATERIALS OF CONSTRUCTION Fiberglass • Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) • Polypropylene (PP) Polyester • Roving • High Temperature Polypropylene (HTPP) PVDF • Alloy 20 • ETFE • PFA • Stainless Steel

Kimre,Inc. ▪ 744 SW 1st Street Homestead, FL. 33030 Tel: (305) 233-4249 Fax: (305) 233-8687 Web: www.kimre.com ▪ E-mail: sales@kimre.com

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 32

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015


Cylindrical superheaters for high temperature and high pressure service By: Mike McGuire, VP Engineering, Optimus Industries, Tulsa, Okla.

The waste heat recovery systems on sulfuric acid plants designed with technology by MECS, Inc. (MECS) typically feature a superheater downstream of the converter first pass, operating in high temperature, high pressure service. These superheaters, usually designated as Superheater 1A or 1B, are required to handle gas-side conditions around 1,150 degrees F and 7+ psig (621 degrees C and 0.49+ barg), which can induce high mechanical stresses in the outer casing that are challenging for the superheater to accommodate. Because superheater heat transfer coils themselves are a rectangular configuration, for most units the casing that houses them is also rectangular, with stiffened flat sidewalls and header boxes with square corners. Particularly on large Superheater 1A/1B units, the welded corners where two flat casing walls intersect are subjected to high stresses due to internal pressure and thermal expansion. Even stainless steel casing material has relatively low strength at design temperatures of around 1,200 degrees F (649 degrees C). As an alternative to a rectangular-style superheater, in 2007 Optimus developed its first cylindrical casing design for the Superheater 1A used in the PCS Phosphates Aurora Plant #7, the largest sulfuric acid plant in North America. Because of the history and critical

A cylindrical-style superheater unit can enhance a plant’s long-term reliability.

Optimus used computer aided engineering to design its cylindrical casing.

nature of the superheater casing, the specifications from MECS required a cylindrical casing design and that a Finite Element Analysis (FEA) be performed on the final design. Even though the main body and ends of the superheater are cylindrical, the FEA is important because the design of the gas inlet and outlet connections are very tricky and the most susceptible to failure. At that time, the most popular computer aided engineering (CAE) tools for structural design were useful for rectangular casing design, but were not suited for sophisticated FEA analysis of the cylindricalstyle casing. So, Optimus shifted to a more versatile set of 3D modeling/CAE tools and designed the Aurora cylindrical superheater solely with FEA methodology. It has since become the company standard for superheater/

economizer casing design. The Optimus cylindrical superheater design has evolved over the years with 3D FEA tools helping to find and reduce stress concentrations more effectively with each new Superheater 1A/B produced. Since the PCS Aurora project, Optimus has participated in several large capacity Superheater 1A/B replacement projects where an old rectangular unit is replaced with a new cylindrical superheater. Also, many RFQs for new-build MECS® sulfuric acid plants have specified cylindrical Superheater 1A/Bs. This is not to say a rectangular-style superheater cannot operate reliably for 10+ years—Optimus has used its 3D FEA methodology to improve those, as well—but apparently some plant operators prefer a well-designed cylindrical unit for the high temperature/high pressure

operating conditions of the Superheater 1A/B units. Optimus is currently manufacturing a cylindrical Superheater 1B for the Mosaic Uncle Sam Plant to replace an existing rectangular unit on its “E Train” plant. The engineering project managers for Mosaic consulted with MECS for the concept and specification package of this replacement superheater. Nick Darling, the MECS mechanical engineering supervisor, has had an active role in recommending cylindrical superheaters in many of these hot, high pressure applications such as Mosaic Uncle Sam. “As sulfuric acid plants continue to get larger, MECS is recommending and specifying more and more cylindrical stainless steel superheaters in place of the rectangular designs,” says Darling. “We feel that when designed, built and installed properly, these cylindrical superheaters are more reliable than the rectangular type, especially when used in conjunction with MECS’ gas bypass and duct design.” For plant operators with rectangular Superheater 1A/B units nearing their end of life, it is certainly worth considering whether a cylindrical style unit could enhance a plant’s long-term reliability. For more information, contact Optimus at (918) 488-3202 or visit www.optimus-tulsa.com. q

Radial Flow Gas-Gas Heat Exchangers Experience: • Introduced in 1977 • Originally developed and patented by Chemetics • Industry standard best-in-class design • More than 300 in service worldwide Features and Benefits: • Radial flow design - Minimises differential thermal stress - Eliminates dead flow zones to yield reduced fouling and corrosion - High efficiency and lower pressure drop for energy savings • Typically 20+ years leak free life with minimal maintenance • Flexible configuration allows retrofit into any plant • Advanced design options to suit demanding services

Innovative solutions for your Sulphuric Acid Plant needs Chemetics Inc.

Chemetics Inc.


Chemetics Inc., a Jacobs company

(headquarters) Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Tel: +1.604.734.1200 Fax: +1.604.734.0340 email: chemetics.info@jacobs.com


(fabrication facility) Pickering, Ontario, Canada Tel: +1.905.619.5200 Fax: +1.905.619.5345 email: chemetics.equipment@jacobs.com

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015


When secondary containment linings and coatings are primary

Reliable and effective means to prevent a chemical release into the environment By: John E. Davis, Inside Sales & Marketing Specialist, Sauereisen Inc.

It’s a common occurrence to turn on the news and witness some form of hazardous chemical release into the waterways, ground or atmosphere. These dangerous events have become a much greater public concern over the last 25 years and social media and camera phones help to keep them in the forefront. Typically, we used to hear about only the larger incidents that resulted in the loss of life, environmental impact on drinking water or large scale effect on wildlife, such as when the Exxon Valdez ran aground on Prince William Sound’s Bligh Reef in 1989. Now we are hearing and seeing more of such events, even those of a smaller scale. New regulations and legislation have now put the liability on the chemical users and transporters, so that they must take every precaution to minimize and prevent the accidental release of hazardous substances into the environment. The protection of life and the environment must be a primary concern for every facility owner, plant engineer, operator and

Severe degradation to standard portland cement in secondary containment. A completed secondary containment area with Sauereisen Fiber-filled Linings no. 218 & 228, a chemicalresistant epoxy-novolac system.

maintenance personnel. There will always be human error, accidents, leaking connections, faulty gaskets and seal failures, but with proper design and aggressive planning for such incidents, these toxic releases can be minimized. The proper design, construction and maintenance of the secondary containment system within an industrial facility is paramount to containing leaks and spills from the primary storage tanks or vessels. The main purpose of a secondary

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system is to contain the spill until it can be neutralized, cleaned up and disposed of properly. A secondary containment structure must be designed with a high degree of chemical resistance, although less than that of the primary system. Especially in older facilities, many of these containment structures were built from formed concrete due to cost of material and ease of application. Concrete alone is not a suitable material in providing effective chemical resistance or a reliable barrier for the permeation of most acids and chemical concentrations. The permeation into the concrete will cause severe degradation and cracking, allowing the acid or caustic substance to leach out and contaminate the environment. Protecting the concrete with a chemical resistant coating or lining is an economical way to protect these structures. Before a lining or coating can be applied, the concrete must be evaluated to determine its condition and what surface preperation, crack filling, chemical resistance and other obstacles will need to be addressed to assure a proper bond and a reliable finished product. Chances are that if the secondary pit has been in place for some time, stress and settling cracks will have formed and will need to be repaired with a compatible mortar before a lining or coating can be applied. Today, engineers and specifiers have a broader range of materials to choose from depending on whether the primary storage is an acid, solvent or caustic; what the concentrations are; and at what temperatures they are stored. Protective coatings and linings can range from thin film coatings to higher-build fiber or flake-filled lining systems, up to thick matte-reinforced systems. Typically all these systems will have an epoxy, vinylester, epoxy vinyl-ester, novolac, furan or polymer concrete chemistry. Application methodology may be done by hand, such as brush, roller, trowel or squeegee. But

spray applications by conventional airless spray and plural component spray are quicker and may be more cost effective. Reinforced matte systems do offer a higher degree of chemical resistance, but are time consuming applications that are typically much more expensive. Again, keep in mind that the corrosion protection required in secondary containment does not have to equal the level of protection in the primary system. You may have a matte system in the primary vessel but an 80 mil lining in the secondary pit. The degree of protection should be enough that in the event of a small spill the surface will be protected until a proper cleanup can be done. However, if a spill does cause penetration of the coating, repairs can be completed to restore the integrity of the coating at a cheaper cost than removing and replacing damaged concrete. For extreme chemical resistance, there are even heavier-duty linings such as furan resin mortar/grout and brick or polymer concretes. The carbon-filler furan is a bonding material for acid-resistant brick or quarry tile and is suitable to protect concrete and steel substrates from attack by corrosive chemicals and physical abuse. Polymer concretes are aggregate-filled systems with sodium silicate, epoxy, vinylester or epoxy novolac resins that are mixed and cast like standard portland cements. They are formulated to create a monolithic top coat over standard cement or as a castin-place chemical resistant pump-tank pad. Thanks to advances in materials technology and application methodology, the rate of application is now accelerated while lowering overall costs. Any industrial facility that stores larger quantities of acids and caustics that are protected by secondary containment will need a corrosionresistant material for the protection of its asset. Don’t let your lax protection result in a new hashtag: #ToxicSpill #PoorProtection #AnotherHazmatIncident or #ShouldHaveUsedSauereisen. With more than 115 years of experience, Sauereisen has long provided corrosion resistant solutions for secondary containment rehabilitation. While this overview focuses on thin film coatings and medium duty linings, Sauereisen is also a formulator of heavy-duty linings, matte systems, furans and polymer concretes. Sauereisen products are regularly specified in the chemical/petro-chemical, power and wastewater markets. For more information, please visit www.sauereisen.com. q Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

Beltran Sulfuric Acid Today Full Page Rev2 9/16/14 6:46 AM Page 1

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Beltran’s advanced WESP technology captures fine particulates, acid mists and condensed organics with maximum efficiency and lower cost. Save on equipment, operating and energy costs with Beltran gas-cleaning WESP systems, proven worldwide for collection efficiency and reliable performance. Our custom-engineered WESP designs remove even hard-to-capture submicron particulates, sulfuric acid mists and condensed organics. Beltran WESPs are currently producing excellent results for sulfuric acid plants and other applications worldwide, including mining and metallurgy, spent acid recovery, power generation, boilers, incinerators and more. • Unique electrode design and multistage systems capture flue-gas components with up to 99.9% efficiency. • Low pressure drop supports higher gas velocities and volumes with smaller equipment and lower costs. • Aqueous flushing system prevents particle re-entrainment, residue build-up, resistivity. • Cool, saturated WESP is more effective on condensable, oily, sticky contaminants. • Contaminant-free feedstock gas assures quality end-product for acid plants.

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Sulphurnet offers complete melting and purification solutions Sulphurnet is a dynamic company providing services for the sulfuric acid industry. It was founded after a simple observation: the world has changed. Most importantly, the acid industry just did not keep up with new developments and ideas. Current sulfur melting technology was outdated. Someone needed to find a way to introduce new solutions to customers. Sulphurnet’s goal is to pioneer true turnkey service to the sulfuric acid industry, delivering a complete melting and purification solution. Sulphurnet’s full design package includes improved melting technology in combination with a very efficient filtration technology, protecting valuable catalyst in the converter from fouling. Systems also meet all the health, safety and environmental regulations and all equipment is built above the ground, making it much easier to maintain. Fig. 1 shows the features of the company’s sulfur melting and purification technology. For more information, please visit www.sulphurnet. com. q Fig. 1: Sulphurnet’s melting and purification technology.


Matthew J. Thayer joins Koch Knight as Vice President of Sales and Marketing EAST CANTON, Ohio—Matthew J. Thayer has joined Koch Knight LLC as the new Vice President of Sales and Marketing. He will be based at corporate headquarters in East Canton. Thayer has had 30 years of experience in roles of increasing responsibility within the engineering, business development and sales management areas of several companies. He comes to Koch Knight from Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., where he was the Global Mining Manager since 2008. Thayer joined Air Products in 2003 in the metallurgical group as a senior applications engineer specializing in reactive metallurgy and thermal spray applications. His experience is enhanced by his Bachelor’s degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from University of Phoenix. Prior to his role at Air Products, Thayer was Global Technical Direc-

Matthew J. Thayer, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Koch Knight LLC

tor for AstroCosmos Metallurgical, a division of Mersen, for 10 years. Mersen is a global leader in the design and fabrication of titanium, tantalium, zirconium and nickelbased alloys as well as graphite and silcon-carbide heat transfer equipment. As Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Thayer will be responsible for the overall direction and

global presence of sales and marketing initiatives. “Matthew Thayer brings a significant amount of experience in both technical and international business development,” says Michael Graeff, President of Koch Knight LLC. “We are excited to have him join our organization.” Koch Knight is part of the Koch Chemical Technology Group, LLC, a diverse group of companies serving the refining, chemical and petrochemical industries. Koch Knight offers one-stop shopping for many customers because of the related product lines of its sister companies. Diagnostic scans, combustion burners, modular mass transfer skids, state of the art packing supports and heat transfer products are just a few of the many products available from other companies within Koch Chemical Technology Group, LLC. For more information, please visit www.kochknight.com. q

Fig. 1


Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015



Industry converges in Chile for tenth sulfuric acid roundtable

The Hotel Dreams in Punta Arenas, Chile, provided a beautiful backdrop for the 2014 X Mesa Redonda de Plantas de Acido Sulfurico—the Chilean Sulfuric Acid Roundtable. Organized by Holtec Ltd., the conference, now in its tenth year, was held November 16-20. More than 125 attendees gathered at Chile’s southern tip to discuss maintenance and operations technology. Representatives from facilities around the globe attended, taking advantage of this opportunity to share information, knowledge and best practices with others in their field. Plant attendees included: Acidos Y Minerales De Venezuela; AngloAmerican; AR ZINC S.A.; Cemin Dos Amigos Pada; Codelco Orgullo de Todos Chuquicamata, Ministro Hales, Salvador, El Teniente, and Ventanas; Eco Services; ENAP Refinerias Aconcagua; Galvani; Glencore; Haldeman Mining Company S.A.; Industiras Basicas De Caldas S.A.; ISUSA; Monomeros; Noracid; Paranapanema; Pequiven; Procel; and Southern Copper. Event sponsors included: Acid Piping Technology, Afla Delta LTDA, AWS, Babcock & Wilcox, Bayer Technology Services, BASF, Begg, Cousland Envirotec, Chemetics, Clark Koch, Drake Specialties, DuPont MECS, GEA, Gore, Haldor Topsøe, Ingal, Invenio, Koch Knight LLC, Marco, MB Consultores Ltda., MetalCop, Nicolaides, NORAM, Outotec, Repin LTDA, SMA, Steuler KCH, Sulfuric Acid Today, SNC-LAVALIN, Sulphurnet, Tetramet, TPI, Twin Filter, Triangle Fluid Controls Ltd., Verne, Vorwerk y Cia. S.A., Worley Parsons and Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps. Events like the roundtable are a perfect place to share information and discoveries within the industry. Attendees enjoyed panel discussions and presentations covering a wide range of topics, including: —“Control and inspection equipment enforcement emission standard” by Viviana Rojas and Maria Jose Osuna of Holtec.

The roundtable included an informative panel on safety. Panelists, from left, were George Wang of Eco Services, Carlos Lama of Southern Peru Copper, Claudio Diaz of Codelco Div. Ventanas and Elio Barraza of Noracid. PAGE 40

More than 125 attendees gathered for the X Mesa Redonda de Plantas de Acido Sulfurico in Punta Areans, Chile.

Dirk van der Werff of Holtec welcomes participants to the X Mesa Redonda de Plantas de Acido Sulfurico, held Nov. 16-20, in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Sarah Richardson of DuPont MECS informed participants on how to effectively manage and reduce emissions in sulfuric acid plants using MECS catalyst.

—“Convertor maintenance of SO2 gases” by Gabriel Araya of Codelco Chuquicamata. —“Saving time and money with form-inplace gasket materials” by Douglas Strait of Gore. —“The suitability of double absorption and scrubbing technologies to meet new emission standards” by Guy Cooper of NORAM. —“Commercialization of MECS SolvR™ regenerative SO2 technology” by Steve Puricelli of DuPont MECS. —“Leakage behavior of gaskets in flanged connections” by Chett Norton of Triangle

Fluid Control. —“Bayqik & sulfuric acid technology” by Lucia Fernandez of Bayer Technology Services. —“Increasing acid plant campaigns” by Claudio Diaz of Codelco Ventanas. —“Hydrogen formation in sulfuric acid plants” by George Wang of Eco-Services. —“Reform of truck load and dispatch in sulfuric acid” by Lucas Barcado of AR Zinc. —“Wet ESP developments” by Sam Kumar & Bob Snyder of Babcock. —“Solid construction PTFE step face

Fun was had by all at the friendly soccer match between the producing plant attendees and the event’s sponsors.

gaskets for improved sealing performance in Mondi™ piping” by Mike Shorts of Triangle Fluid Control —“Operational reliability when designing for maintenance” by Grant Harding of Chemetics. —“Improving efficiency and safety in metallurgical acid plants” by Sebastian Brechtel of Outotec. —“Waste heat recovery in sulfuric acid plants” by Claudia Araya of Holtec. —“Air quality standards in sulfuric acid plants” by Kleber Jurado of Southern Copper. —“Presentation of a new sulfuric acid production plant in Uruguay” by David Mardero of ISUSA. —“How to effectively manage and reduce emissions in sulfuric acid plants using state-of-the-art MECS catalyst” by Sarah Richardson of DuPont MECS. —“Tailor-made catalyst solutions to meet the demands for lower SO2 emissions” by Osman Chaudhry of Haldor Topsøe. —“A scoring system and sound management of silica-rich stainless steels” by Axel Alfaro of TPI. —“Cooler tubes and housing for sulfuric acid” by Ester Droguett of Outotec. —“Sulfuric acid recirculation tank repair” by Gustavo Barreto of ISUSA. —“Engineering and construction of an absorption tower” by Diego Rojas of Ingal. —“Mist elimination techniques” by Alesandro Gullá of AWS. —“Comprehensive improvement project gas capture and processing Potrerillos Smelter” by Manuel Roco of Codelco Salvador. —“The art of troubleshooting mist eliminators” by Graeme Cousland of Begg Cousland Envirotec. —“Improved control system for new sulfuric acid plant” by Hugo Ramirez of ISUSA. —“Master control gas management - Ilo Smelter” by Carlos Lama of Southern Copper. —“Leaks and consequences in sulfuric acid plant” by Elio Barraza of Noracid. All work and no play makes for a dull conference, though. With that in mind, organizers of the Chilean Sulfuric Acid Roundtable arranged a variety of interesting events to complement the programming. Fun was had by all at the biannual soccer match between producers and sponsors, in addition to hospitality and networking opportunities and dinners each night. Attendees were also treated to a tour of the historic Punta Arenas cemetery, as well as a trip to a local farm for a Chilean BBQ dinner with dancers in native costumes. The next Chilean Sulfuric Acid Roundtable will be held in 2016. q

Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

From left to right, Amadeo Valdés of SMA, Manuel Alvarado of Glencore and Hernab Luma of SPCC enjoyed catching up with one another at the welcome reception of the X Mesa Redonda de Plantas de Acido Sulfúrico, held Nov. 16-20, in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Grant Harding of Chemetics presented an informative paper on operational reliability when designing for maintenance during the X Mesa Redonda de Plantas de Acido Sulfurico in Punta Arenas, Chile.


Faces & Places Guy Cooper of NORAM Engineering and Constructors Ltd. presented his company’s paper on the suitability of double absorption and scrubbing technologies to meet new emission standards during the X Mesa Redonda de Plantas de Acido Sulfúrico in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Kleber Jurado of SPCC presented an informative paper regarding the air quality standards in sulfuric acid plants during the X Mesa Redonda de Plantas de Acido Sulfúrico in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Claudia Araya of Holtec Ltda. spoke about waste heat recovery in sulfuric acid plants during the X Mesa Redonda de Plantas de Acido Sulfúrico in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Sebastian Brechtel of Outotec shared his experiences with improving efficiency and safety in metallurgical acid plants during the X Mesa Redonda de Plantas de Acido Sulfúrico in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Graeme Cousland of Begg Cousland Envirotec, left, and Osvaldo Cabrera of Alfa Delta networked at the welcome reception of the X Mesa Redonda de Plantas de Acido Sulfúrico in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Enjoying the welcome reception of the X Mesa Redonda de Plantas de Acido Sulfúrico in Punta Arenas, Chile are, from left, Juan Herrera of Drake Specialties, Viviana Rojas of Holtec, Maria Jose Osuna of Holtec and Claudio Diaz of Codelco Ventanas.

Diego Rojas of Ingal Ingenieria, left, and Nelson Clark of Clark Koch enjoyed networking during the welcome reception of the X Mesa Redonda de Plantas de Acido Sulfúrico in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Mario Beer of MB Consultores, left, and Carlos Lama of SPCC enjoyed the festivities during the welcome reception of the X Mesa Redonda de Plantas de Acido Sulfúrico in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Nelson Clark of Clark Koch, right, visited with George Wang of Eco Services, center, and Dirk van der Werff of Holtec at the welcome reception during the X Mesa Redonda de Plantas de Acido Sulfúrico in Punta Arenas, Chile. Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

A few of the participants of the X Mesa Redonda de Plantas de Acido Sulfúrico enjoyed a day trip to the scenic Torres del Paine National Park in the southern Chilean Patagonia region. Pictured from left to right, are Alvaro Stegmann of Worley Parsons, Osvaldo Cabrera of Alfa Delta, Kathy Hayward of Sulfuric Acid Today, Graeme Cousland of Begg Cousland Envirotec, Jan Hermans of Sulphurnet, Anabel Thomas of SNCLavalin and Orlando Perez of OP & Associates – H2SO4 Consultants.

Matthias Walschburger of Koch Knight LLC, right, visited with, from left Andres Videla of Vorwerk y Cia, Manuel Rodriguez of ENAP Refinerias and Eduardo Perez of ENAP Refinerias during the welcome reception during the X Mesa Redonda de Plantas de Acido Sulfurico in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Osman Chaudhry of Haldor Topsøe, left, visits with Jan Hermans of Sulphurnet, center, and Ken Black of Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps, right, at the welcome reception during the X Mesa Redonda de Plantas de Acido Sulfúrico in Punta Arenas, Chile.   PAGE 41



OCP organizes 3rd SYMPHOS conference

MARRAKESH, Morocco—The third International Symposium on Innovation and Technology in the Phosphate Industry (SYMPHOS) will take place May 18-20, 2015, at the Mansour Eddahbi Congress Center in Marrakesh. SYMPHOS, sponsored by OCP, is a biennial event dedicated to all the key players of the phosphates and derivatives industry. This highly technical and scientific event aims to honor innovation, technology, trends in upgrading processes of phosphates and derivatives and research and development perspectives for the phosphate sector. SYMPHOS is also an information exchange platform for stakeholders operating in the mining, phosphates, chemical processing, sulfur and sulfuric acid production, ammonia, fertilizers, biotechnology and phosphate materials industries. This year’s event will add a focus on biotechnology, specific fertilizers and fertilizers of the future. For more information, please visit www.symphos.com.

AIChE Clearwater Conference slated for June

CLEARWATER, Fla.—Each year for the last 38 years, members of the AIChE Cen-

tral Florida Section and colleagues from all over the world have gathered at Clearwater Beach to share their ideas concerning chemical process technology, specifically the production of phosphoric acid, phosphate fertilizers and sulfuric acid. This year’s conference is slated for June 5-6, 2015. This year, there will be two sessions on Friday afternoon. The first will be a sulfuric acid session, chaired by Rick Davis of Davis & Associates Consulting, Inc. and Jim Dougherty of Mosaic Co. The second session will be a workshop on granulation technology. To obtain PDH certification for conference sessions, you must attend the full session of the section for which you need credit. You must also supply your P.E. number on or before June 5, 2015, and you must have your attendance verified by proctors. In addition to its technical sessions, the Clearwater conference is known for the beautiful Sand Key backdrop, good food, ample social time with family and colleagues and a lot of fun. This year should be no different, with a variety of activities planned for attendees and their families. For more information or to register, please visit www.aiche-cf.org.

cessing, transportation and trade of sulfur and sulfuric acid. Scheduled for November 9-12, 2015, at Sheraton Centre in Toronto, the event is sure to attract industry decision makers from around the world. Its proximity to the sulfuric acid sector in Ontario and key U.S. production sites make Toronto an ideal setting for the global sulfur and acid community to meet and discuss the commercial and technical issues shaping the industry. Sulphur 2015 is now firmly established as the premier industry event for the sulfur and sulfuric acid markets, offering an annual opportunity for the industry to meet, learn and network for over 30 years. The conference celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2014, attracting over 600 industry professionals from 43 countries and making it one of the biggest gatherings in the event’s history. Each year, the extensive program covers key market trends, project updates and supply and demand forecasts in the commercial sessions, with presentations from respected industry figures and high level analysis from CRU’s Sulphur Team. The two day split-stream technical program showcases the latest technological developments to improve efficiency and compliance, and provides a high-level forum for engineers from the sulfur and sulfuric acid industries to share experiences and develop solutions to common operational problems. The 2015 call for technical papers is now open. All papers should be submitted

Toronto will host Sulphur 2015

LONDON—CRU is delighted to host Sulphur 2015 in Canada, one of the world’s primary markets for the production, pro-


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Australasia Sulfuric Acid Roundtable announced

COVINGTON, La.—Sulfuric Acid Today is happy to announce that the eighth Australasia Sulfuric Acid Workshop will take place April 4-7, 2016. It will be held at the Jupiters Townsville Hotel & Casino in Townsville, Queensland, Australia. The 2014 Workshop attracted more than 80 participants from around the world, and 2016 is shaping up to be an even bigger event. As in years past, sulfuric acid insiders will gather to attend presentations given by event co-sponsors on a variety of topics relevant to the industry. Panel discussions and co-sponsor booths will provide more opportunities for information sharing, while social events will ensure that participants get to enjoy the beautiful area while building relationships that promote beneficial business exchanges in the future. The Australasia Sulfuric Acid Roundtable is offered in even years in Australia and alternates with the Sulfuric Acid Roundtable, which is offered in odd years in the United States. For more information, please visit www.h2so4today.com or email kathy@ h2so4today.com. q

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Sulfuric Acid Today • Spring/Summer 2015

Profile for Sulfuric Acid Today

Spring/Summer 2015  

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

Spring/Summer 2015  

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