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Stamicarbon delivers remote revamp study for nitric acid plant in Colombia

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World Fertilizer,

Stamicarbon has successfully delivered a revamp study for Monómeros Colombo Venezolanos' mono-pressure nitric acid plant in Colombia.

The detailed report for increasing and optimising production was completed remotely by Stamicarbon’s Ammonium Nitrate – Nitric Acid (ANNA) team.

Located in Barranquilla, on the country’s northern coast, the plant was designed by Stamicarbon and commissioned in 1968.

Over 50 years of operation the chemical site has produced NPK-based fertilizers. The plant has been well-maintained, with only a few heat exchangers replaced due to end of life and the boiler replaced to prepare for capacity increase. Recently, the growing demand for NPKs, which use nitric acid as a feedstock, triggered Monómeros to look for ways to produce more nitric acid at their own facility.

The original plant’s nameplate capacity was 225 tpd of nitric acid at 55 wt.% acid concentration, with the actual capacity of 275 tpd at 50 wt.%. Stamicarbon performed a revamp study and developed the following two revamp options for the plant:

  • 300 tpd of nitric acid with acid concentration >50 wt.%
  • 350 tpd of nitric acid with acid concentration >50 wt.%

After a year of technical discussions and evaluation of the scope of work, Stamicarbon signed the Study Agreement with Monómeros and began work on the project in October 2020. In November, the team delivered the “as-is” mass balance, reflecting the existing situation of the plant. With this mass balance, the work on designing the two revamp options began. In March 2021, as part of the study agreement, Stamicarbon delivered datasheets for a new type of packing to be used as a replacement in the oxidation/absorption columns in the plant.

Six months after the kick-off meeting, Stamicarbon delivered the final package presenting two revamp options, including recommendations on the improvements to be implemented in the plant to reach the desired capacities.

The goal was to deliver a revamp study that would consider every aspect of the plant. “It was important for the Monómeros project team that every single piece of equipment in the plant was considered in the study, to assess the complete plant behaviour,” said Mauricio Medici, Licensing Manager at Stamicarbon, who took the role of project manager during the study. “Being the original licensor, Stamicarbon has a broader understanding of the overall plant configuration and operations, and our work fulfilled their request successfully because we had a complete view of the project.”

Due to the traveling restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the plant pre-assessment work and all stages of the project that followed took place virtually. However, the engineering team easily overcame this challenge via daily online communication (in Spanish, the client’s native language), timely accommodating clients’ requests, and making sure that all simulated processes were feasible in real life.

“We are very happy with the quality of the work done by Stamicarbon,” said Saúl Torregroza Romero, Chemical Engineering Superintendent at Monómeros. “It has been very important for us to restore the technical relations with Stamicarbon, and we are hoping to continue working together in the next step of the project.”

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