The role of heat exchangers in fertilizer’s decarbonization efforts
The energy involved in the production of fertilizers represents one of the industry’s most significant operating costs, as well as a being a substantial contributor to greenhouse gas emissions today.
Fertilizer producers have long investigated the incorporation of waste heat recovery mechanisms into improved energy management practices. And in many cases, they have successfully demonstrated their effectiveness in reducing energy consumption over the long, medium and short terms. However, the practical application at the enterprise levels has often been limited, whether due to significant capital investments or longer-than-acceptable payback timelines.
In the September/October 2023 issue of Fertilizer Focus magazine, officials from both Solex Thermal Science and Econotherm discuss examples where plate and pipe heat exchangers can pay off at that enterprise level in economically recovering thermal energy from otherwise wasted heat.
Igor Makarenko, Chief Sales Officer at Solex Thermal Science, points to how the working fluid currently used to cool fertilizer through plate-based moving bed heat exchangers can be repurposed to pre-heat combustion air in the drying process — and thereby reduce the amount of energy needed to meet moisture targets.
Mark Boocock, Managing Director at Econotherm, adds that heat pipe heat exchangers can recover waste heat at various stages of the fertilizer-making process, such as particle-laden air that is exhausted from the drying process as well as exhaust streams from large gas-fired heaters used in ammonia production.
"Energy-intensive steps such as ammonia synthesis and fertilizer drying are just two examples of areas where producers can tap into previously unrealized heat sinks and reduce both primary energy consumption and subsequent GHG emissions," writes Makarenko and Boocock.
Return to Articles