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What is urea

Urea or carbamide, hydrazine of carbonic acid is a chemical compound, constituting white or colorless crystals well soluble in water.

In industry, urea is synthesized from ammonia and carbon dioxide, for this reason, its production is frequently combined with ammonia production.

Urea as a fertilizer

Granulated urea, containing 46% of nitrogen is the most commonly used nitrogen fertilizer. Urea gives good results as a fertilizer for all kinds of crops. The uniqueness of this nitrogen fertilizer is in its application at any time and with the use of any method of manure.

Wide application in industry

Urea is a component of resins and glues, used in wood processing and furniture production, as well as in production of plastics. Urea is used for cleansing of flue gases of power plants. It also finds application in the food industry as an improving agent and is used as a component of many cosmetic and medicine products.

Production of urea

Urea has a chemical formula of (NH2)2CO. It is white or colorless crystals, odorless and synthesized from ammonia and carbon dioxide at a temperature of 130-140°C and a pressure of 200 psi.

In order to improve the economic efficiency of production of urea, it is combined with the production of ammonia, which is characterized by a high-energy consumption.

43% of the world production of urea is located in China. Other major urea suppliers at the global market are India (13.5%) and countries of the Middle East Region, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Oman (about 13%). Europe and the CIS countries produce about 11% of the world reserves of carbamide.

Use of urea

Urea is widely used in agriculture and industry.

Application in agriculture

Granulated urea with the nitrogen content of 46% is the most common type of solid nitrogen fertilizers used around the world. It has the highest nitrogen content among this type of fertilizers that defines the economic expediency of its use as the major component.

Granulated urea is used both by itself and can be easily mixed with phosphate or potassium fertilizers.

Urea as a fertilizer can be used for all methods and terms of application: before and during of sowing the crops, for feeding during the growing season, as well as for spraying, since it is safe to plant’s leaves.

Effective herbicides are also produced from urea. In livestock production, it is used as a feed addictive.

Industry application

An important industrial application of urea is the synthesis of urea-aldegide resins (UF-resin), used in the manufacture of wood-fiber plates and in furniture production. Urea is used during the manufacture of glues and plastics.

Urea is used for cleaning the thermal power plants, incinerators, boilers, as well as diesel engines from flue gas nitrogen oxides.

Urea is used in the food industry in the production of a chewing gum and as an additive, improving the quality of flour as well as modifying and intensifying the aroma and the taste of food.

In pharmaceutics, urea is used as the active ingredient of moisturizing creams as well as consisting of diuretics and sleeping peels.

Storage and transportation

Urea is stored in bulk in closed and well-ventilated warehouses, protecting the product from falling precipitation. Containers with fertilizer can be stored in open areas.

Urea is transported in metal containers and in bulk in covered wagons for transportation of mineral fertilizers. It can be transported by all modes of transport, it is not flammable and fire-and explosion-proof in normal conditions.

Main consumers of urea

China is the largest consumer of urea in the world. 43% of urea is produced in China and 40% is consumed.

The second largest consumer of urea is India (20%). Almost 8.5% of carbamide is bought by European countries and the CIS, 6.5% are bought in the United States. Together, these countries consume ¾ of the carbamide produced in the world.

Demand for urea

About 165 mln tons of urea is sold annually in the world. Experts predict that in coming years the demand will grow. While the consumer demand from China and the United States could stay at the same level, it is forecasted that the demand in India, Brazil and European countries will continue to grow and in 2020 the aggregate demand exceeds 180 mln tons.