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What is ammonia

Ammonia or hydrogen nitride is one of nitrogen compounds. It is a colorless gas with a pungent characteristic odor, which has the chemical formula - NH3. Freezing or pressurized ammonia enters the liquid form.

Ammonia is widely used in industry, and it is a key component in the production of nitrogen fertilizers. Nitrogen is required to plants for proper growth and development. Use of fertilizers increases the nitrogen content in the soil, enlarging the yields.

The use of ammonia in agriculture

Ammonia is primarily used for the production of many kinds of nitrogen fertilizers, such as urea and nitrate (ammonium nitrate) and ammonium sulphate. A great part of the ammonia produced in the world is sold to agricultural or industrial consumers.

Wide industry application

Ammonia is one of the most important substances for the chemical industry. It is used to produce polymers, textiles, explosives, ethanol. The ammonia is also applied as a solvent and cooling agent. Ammonia is used in the production of drugs and cosmetics.

Production of ammonia

Ammonia is produced by combining the nitrogen and hydrogen at temperatures of 380-500 degrees Celsius and a pressure of 250 ATMs in the presence of a catalyst.

The coal, coke and coke oven gas can be used as raw materials for the production of ammonia, but a great part of ammonia is produced from natural gas. Production of ammonia is distinguished by high energy consumption, index of natural gas consumption is one of the key factors determining profitability.

Use of ammonia

As a fertilizer

Anhydrous ammonia is used independently as a fertilizer. It is produced by liquefying a gaseous ammonia under a high pressure. It is a liquid with a nitrogen content of 82.3%, which makes it the most concentrated and cost-effective nitrogen fertilizer.

Many types of nitrogen fertilizers are produced from ammonia. The most important of them is urea, ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulphate.

Carbamide (urea) is produced from ammonia and carbon dioxide. It is supplied in the form of granules and micro granules and contains 46% of nitrogen, which makes it the most concentrated nitrogen fertilizer.

Ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) is the most common used universal nitrogen fertilizer containing 35% of nitrogen. It is applied as a basic fertilizer and for feeding of plants.

Ammonium sulphate contains 21% of nitrogen and up to 24% sulfur, therefore is also the source of the sulfur nutrition. It is well absorbed, not washed from the soil and used for all types of crops.

Industrial application

Ammonia is one of the most important products of the chemical industry. Substances produced from ammonia serve as the basis for the production of propylene, textile fibres, wires, pipes, containers, tires, car parts and phones. Explosives are also produced from ammonia.

Liquid ammonia is used as a solvent and refrigerant. Ammonia is used as an anti-freezing addictive to the dry building mixtures.

Derivatives of ammonia are used in medicine. For example, aqueous ammonia, components of cosmetics and drug products.

Ammonia water is used as a source of nitrogen in the process of production of yeast. The demand for ethanol is growing in the world, and yeast is the only kind of microorganisms used to convert sugar into ethanol.

Storage and transportation

Ammonia turns into liquid form during freezing or under pressure and requires special equipment and techniques for transportation and storage.

Liquid ammonia is stored in interconnected tanks, accomplished with the security valves. In order to improve the security, the reservoirs are dig around and establish additional trays and walls.

When storing large volumes of hydrocarbon gases, the underground gas storage facilities are the most effective. Storage of ammonia in isothermal gasholders is widely used.

Transport of ammonia is carried out in special transport containers by railway, water and road transport or by trunk pipelines.

Basic consumers

China shows a growing demand for this product, the enterprises of which consume 30% of ammonia produced in the world. Several more countries and regions demonstrate the same level of consumption of ammonia: the United States (10%), CIS countries and Western Europe (8-9%), India (8%).

Demand for ammonia

In accordance with the forecasts of experts, in the year of 2020 the production of ammonia will be about 190 mln tons per year. About three-fourths of the ammonia produced in the world is used for the production of fertilizers, about 50% goes to the production of urea.

Nowadays, the demand for urea is growing, that is why it is forecasted that the need for ammonia, from which it is produced, will be growing simultaneously by not less than 2% per year within the period up to 2020.

The forecasted increase in demand for the product creates opportunities for newly developed urea capacities.