Published On: Fri, 24 Oct 2014

QAFCO initiates pilot plant for product diversification.Doha: QAFCO and NIIK (a Russian engineering and technology company specialized in urea) signed a contract for design and supply of a pilot High Speed Drum Granulation unit (HSDG) to producevarious value addedurea products in Qatar.

 Mr. Khalifa A Al Sowaidi, QAFCO CEO; signed on behalf of QAFCO and Mr. Igor Esin, President and CEO NIIK signed on behalf of NIIK. The ceremony was attended by Mr. Ivan De Witte, Chief Operations Officer, QAFCO; Mr. Hamed Al Marwani, Chief Administration Officer, QAFCO; and Ms. Natalia Kargaeva, Head of International Affairs Department from NIIK (R&D Institute of Urea), Russia.

 Construction  activities  in the pilot plant are expected to start middle of next year and the plant is expected to start production by end of next year.

 The high speed drum granulation pilot unit, with a capacity of 2.4 ton per day, will allow QAFCO to develop various urea based products by adding sulphur, ammonium sulphate and a diverse range of  other micronutrients. The first of its kind pilot unit is a first step to develop higher value urea based fertiliser utilizing the efficient asset base of QAFCO as largest single site urea producer, as well as utilizing the abundant sulphur available in QATAR.

Based on the experience from the pilot unit, actual larger capacity units for producing the specialty urea will be installed. By implementing that, part of the large quantity of Sulphur available and now exported from Qatar will be utilized inside Qatar for producing value added product.

The HSDG can be used to diversify the range of fertilizers offered; depending on market requirements the producer can decide what fertilizer is best suited to satisfy market demand and has a higher added value, and can adjust the HSDG accordingly for production of a particular fertilizer blend. The range of applications for the HSDG technology is quasi infinite.

 QAFCO CEO Mr. Khalifa Al-Sowaidi said “The signing of this agreement to set up High Speed Drum Granulation Unit by QAFCO comes in line with QAFCO strategy to diversify away from commodity urea and the fact that QAFCO since its inception has taken upon itself the task of drawing up an ambitious future vision to ensure further development of the company in view of the reality that QAFCO accords particular importance to its capability for responsiveness to the market needs; meeting the expectations of the shareholders; and contributing tangibly to the development of the national economy”. Mr. Khalifa added “The initiative is a response to the changing dynamics of global agriculture where the focus is on improved land use based on balanced fertilization to allow increase of yields and lessening the environmental impact”.

 “Successful operation of the pilot HSDG will be a step to a commercial-scale one”, according to QAFCO’s CEO Khalifa Al-Sowaidi. Food security makes farmers think how they use their land, and experienced and reliable fertilizer producers like QAFCO take care of global agriculture sustainable development. “This pilot unit and the prospect of producing higher value urea based fertilizers is unique not only in the Middle East, but even globally, and QAFCO is committed to utilize its resources to develop better fertilizers with higher crop yields and lower overall impact on the environment.”

 Seeing this as an opportunity to enhance knowledge and skill of QAFCO employees, Mr. Hamed Al Marwani, Chief Administration Officer, QAFCO said, “In addition to the added value arising from the production of new products produced by the unit, this unit will also provide opportunities for young Qataris and enable nationals engaged in QAFCO service to acquire high-level expertise in the design, construction and operation of technically advanced industrial plants.”

Technical and economic advantages

 The High Speed Drum Granulation Unit offers whole lot of advantages over the current technology used in various plants manufacturing compound fertilizers. The plant occupies smaller footprint area at the same capacity due to intensification of the process. This easy to install unit offers low capital and operational cost as well as flexibility.

 The main item of the new facility will be High Speed Drum Granulation unit, it is smaller in size compared to a normal drum granulation unit, and therefore it saves energy. The other items in this unit will be coolers, screens, scrubbers, storage bins for raw material and final product.

 The pilot High Speed Drum Granulation Unitand which is based on a similar plant designed and tested by NIIK at their facilities, will allow to refine the technology and to produce batches of fertilizers for field trials. The HSDG is used to produce granulated urea and produce compound fertilizers like ammonium sulphate, and other urea based fertilizers (Urea+ fertilizers), compounds. designed and developed by The R&D Institute of Urea,

 From economic perspective, sulphur - one of the vital nutrients for plants as it is a component of numerous protein enzymes that regulate photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation- is a by-product of petrochemical industry, abundantly available in Qatar and easily accessible to allow for incorporation of the nutrient into urea, will allow it to diversify into compound fertilisers based on the combinations of Urea & Sulphur and Urea & Ammonium Sulfate, a commodity fertilizer sold in large quantities all over the world.

 Besides, Urea+Sulfur and Urea+Ammonium Sulfate, produced in the HSDG, have properties (strength and shape) similar to those produced by fluid-bed granulation technology. This will allow the products of the HSDG unit to be stored over long periods and delivered over long distances. They are rather slowly dissolved when they are applied in soil while gradually releasing their nutrients, to support for plant growth. They avoid wastage of nutrient N to atmosphere and soil increasing Nitrogen use efficiency. High nitrogen use efficiency not only leads to financial gain to the farmers, it also avoids environmental problems by avoiding Nitrate leaching to water bodies. They decrease the risk of fertilizer burn associated with heavy applications of conventional fertilizers. They can be used in alkaline soil

Senior officials from QAFCO and NIIK at the signing ceremony.

 It is worth to mention that, in its development course, QAFCO has followed a motivated strategy to responding adequately to the world market demand. In addition to boosting its fertiliser production, QAFCO has taken further steps in the product diversifying direction and ventured into new product areas and joint investments, including the production of urea formaldehyde and melamine. In 2003 QAFCO established the Gulf Formaldehyde Company (GFC) as a private Shareholding company. The company is engaged in the production and sale of Urea Formaldehyde Concentrate (“UFC”) which is an anti-caking agent vital to urea production. Gulf Formaldehyde Company now own 2 Formaldehyde plants with 60,000 MT annual production capacity. Another step in the product diversifying direction is the establishing of Qatar Melamine Company in 2006 to produce and sell melamine. The Qatar Melamine Company plant is the largest melamine plant in the Middle East and one of the largest melamine plants in the world with a production capacity of 60,000 MT per year i:e 5% of the world melamine consumption.