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Coal-to-ammonia conversion in Asia

World Coal,

With the increasing shortage of natural gas and crude oil in Asia, coal provides a viable alternate feedstock for energy and chemicals. Both current and projected prices of low-rank coal are far lower than alternative fossil fuels. The feedstock differential cost between low-rank coal and natural gas is therefore the key business opportunity driving the use of low-rank coal as an economical replacement for natural gas in existing (or new) ammonia plants.

In Asia, the current natural gas supply does not fully meet the feedstock requirements for existing ammonia/urea plants. Moreover, in most places in the region, logistics is a serious problem. There are current plants that run on natural gas, but have access to cheap coal: for example, some Indonesian plants. In one coal-rich area, an ammonia plant has successfully reduced consumption of natural gas and replaced it as a fuel with much cheaper, locally sourced coal.

In this report, Tufail Ahmad, KBR Technology, US, discusses the effect depleting oil and gas reserves will have on the way we develop ammonia. The author explains how coal gasification technology can be integrated with conventional ammonia synthesis loops, and discusses how the technology can be used in both existing and new ammonia plants. Ahmad concludes that the time has now come to replace natural gas with coal-derived syngas in ammonia and urea plants in Asia.

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Author: Tufail Ahmad, KBR Technology, US

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