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Chemical, 2016-04-06, 01:25 PM

Shell and Uhde Fertilizer Technologies join forces on new sulphur-enhanced urea fertiliser technology

Shell and Uhde Fertilizer Technologies (UFT), part of thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions, are pleased to announce their partnership to integrate UFT’s fluid bed granulation technology with Shell’s Urea-ES technology, which was introduced in May 2015. This announcement comes after the two companies successfully granulated Shell-developed Urea-ES emulsion in UFT’s fluid bed granulation pilot plant in Leuna, Germany.

Urea-ES technology seeks to provide vital sulphur nutrient to soils by incorporating elemental sulphur into the world’s most commonly used fertiliser, urea, helping to unlock higher crop yields and improved soil health. Combining Shell Thiogro’s sulphur-enhanced urea technology with UFT’s fluid bed granulation process will enable the largest urea plants in the world to produce granulated sulphur-containing urea.

Since 2014, Shell and UFT have been developing a partnership on Urea-ES technology. The successful pilot plant run demonstrates that sulphur-enhanced urea can be safely produced at UFT fluid bed granulation plants.

“Fertiliser producers had been asking us about incorporating sulphur into their urea for a long time,” said Matthias Potthoff, Director of Uhde Fertilizer Technologies. “From the first discussions with Shell Thiogro about a partnership to granulate the product of their sulphur-enhanced urea technology, it was clear this would be a win-win relationship.”

“We are pleased to be working with UFT, the foremost licensor of fluidised bed granulation plants in the world, on our latest Shell Thiogro technology. UFT’s urea granulation expertise and Shell’s sulphur knowhow complement each other perfectly. We are pleased to see a positive outcome from this partnership – we successfully granulated several formulations of Urea-ES in UFT’s pilot plant,” said Rafael Garcia, Global Technology Manager for Shell Thiogro technologies.

The companies announced their cooperation at a joint presentation at the CRU Nitrogen + Syngas conference in March, in which they presented samples of fluid bed granulated product made with Urea-ES technology.

Additional information

Urea-ES technology utilises Shell Thiogro patented technology to emulsify micron-sized particles of elemental sulphur evenly throughout urea, forming a homogeneous emulsion. This is in contrast to existing elemental sulphur-containing urea technologies, which typically coat urea in a layer of elemental sulphur. The microscopic size of the sulphur particles, at under 40 micrometres (µm), promotes the oxidation of the sulphur within the crop season.

The advantages of Shell’s technology have been combined with the industry-leading features of UFT’s Fluid Bed Granulation Process, where the granulation mode is accretion instead of layering. The elemental sulphur liquor is finely dispersed in the urea melt before the solution is fed to the granulator. The flexibility of the UFT granulation process allows the production of Urea-ES without any significant changes. Just as in the normal urea granulation, the Urea-ES particles grow collectively through the solidification of tiny droplets on the seed material. The result is a very hard granule, far superior in quality to granules produced through layering or agglomeration-based processes. This slow accretion process is unique in permitting the water present in the urea solution to be thoroughly stripped on a continuous basis resulting in the end product having a remarkably low moisture content.

The dispersion of the sulphur in the urea results in a homogeneous distribution of micron-sized sulphur particles in the Urea-ES granules.

The bulk of the crystallisation heat released as the Urea-ES solidifies is removed by evaporating the water in the urea solution. This method of heat release reduces the amount of ambient air required for cooling and the evaporation is highly efficient because it takes place directly on the granule surface.

Operation of the fluid bed granulation plant is simple and very reliable, guaranteeing a high on-stream factor. The granulator itself contains no moving parts, and its design is optimised to limit downtimes for cleaning to a strict minimum.

For more information about Urea-ES technology, visit www.shell.com/sulphur/thiogro or www.uhde-fertilizer-technology.com.

About Uhde Fertilizer Technologies
With an installed daily capacity of more than 170,000 mt/d (metric tons per day) UFT is world market leader in fluid bed urea granulation technology and looks back on nearly forty years of experience in licensing and technology development. UFT is part of thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions, the plant engineering and construction specialist of the thyssenkrupp Group.

About thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions:
The thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions business area is a leading partner for the engineering, construction and service of all industrial plants and systems. In addition to chemical, coke, cement and other industrial plants and refineries, our portfolio also includes mining, ore processing and port handling equipment along with corresponding services. In the naval sector we are a leading global system supplier for submarines and surface vessels. As an important system partner to our customers in the automotive, aerospace and battery industries we optimize the value chain and improve performance. In collaboration with our customers we develop top-quality solutions and deliver efficiency, reliability and sustainability over the entire life cycle. Around 19,000 employees at over 70 locations form a global network with a technology portfolio that guarantees maximum productivity and cost-efficiency.

More information at: www.thyssenkrupp-industrial-solutions.com

About Shell Thiogro technologies:
Shell Thiogro technologies enable fertiliser producers to safely incorporate micron-sized particles of elemental sulphur and other nutrients into some of the most widely used fertilisers, including ammonium phosphate-based fertilisers, TSP and, most recently, urea. Shell Thiogro sulphur-enhanced phosphate fertiliser technologies have been licensed and installed in fertiliser plants in Asia, North America and Australia, and have produced more than one million tonnes of sulphur-enhanced fertilisers to date. More installations are underway in these and other regions. Shell Thiogro technologies are part of the Shell Sulphur Solutions, Shell’s dedicated sulphur business with over 60 years of sulphur handling and marketing expertise.

About Royal Dutch Shell plc:
Royal Dutch Shell plc is incorporated in England and Wales, has its headquarters in The Hague and is listed on the London, Amsterdam, and New York stock exchanges. Shell companies have operations in more than 70 countries and territories with businesses including oil and gas exploration and production; production and marketing of liquefied natural gas and gas to liquids; manufacturing, marketing and shipping of oil products and chemicals and renewable energy projects. For further information, visit www.shell.com

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