Food for Everyone

As the world food demand continues to grow, so does the need for solutions to increase crop yields. This opens up good market opportunities, but also presents challenges.

Food for everyone

According to the most recent projections, the world population will reach 9.3 billion by 2050. And all of those people will need to eat. Even today, 795 million people suffer from hunger and chronic malnutrition. There is no question that this presents both a huge need for action and great potential.

In order to maximize yields, highly developed breeding, technology, plant protection, and plant nutrition adapted for the area are necessary. These measures also reduce the arable land required per person and help maintain soil fertility.

Arable Land per Capita

That is why fertilizer manufacturers are constantly researching ways to improve compositions and yields, while simultaneously trying to keep production both competitive and efficient. That is the only way to guarantee that food is produced affordably in the future.

Nevertheless, continually optimizing processes is a challenge.

Quality Process Catalysts for Efficient Fertilizer Production

Quality Process Catalysts for Efficient Fertilizer Production

Nitric acid is the main component for manufacturing ammonium nitrate fertilizers and other complex acids, and process catalysts such as platinum gauze are used here. The quality of the gauze plays a major role in ensuring that the process is efficient on technological, ecological, and commercial levels.

Only good quality gauze can provide an optimum life cycle with a controllable service life and, in particular, the necessary oxidation efficiency. Therefore, it makes sense to choose a partner who has extensive experience and expertise in catalyst production.

Smart Material Combinations Get Results

Under the highly oxidative conditions of the Ostwald process, substantial quantities of volatile platinum oxides form, primarily as platinum dioxide. These oxides are carried by the gas flow and may lead to high precious metal losses during typical process times, which can be several months. Modern catalyst systems consist of the actual catalyst gauze and an underlying catchment gauze for volatile platinum oxide. This considerably reduces vapor losses, leading to substantial savings in new precious metal procurement.

Other downstream catalyst systems come into play to reduce nitrous oxide emissions, as the greenhouse gas is an unwelcome byproduct of the Ostwald process. Secondary catalysts (with or without precious metals) are used to break down the nitrous oxide as much as possible.

Companies benefit in the long run by reducing their N2O emissions.The reduced greenhouse gases can be traded in certificates or applied to other environment-related processes. Read more: Kyoto Protocol

Continuous and Long-Term Collaboration for Success

Continuous and Long-Term Collaboration for Success

Optimization is rarely achieved in just a single step. Every campaign produces new insights that can be applied for further optimization. Therefore, the business relationship should not end with the product sale; good suppliers develop partnerships for continuing collaboration on optimization.

Follow-up consultations and critical review of process parameters are just as important as assisting with the installation and preparing for the initial commissioning of a system. Technical support needs to be available on-site to provide the customer with these services.

Did you know?

Patented by Wilhelm Ostwald in 1902, the Ostwald process involves the catalytic oxidation of ammonia for large-scale production of nitric acid (HNO3). During this process, ammonia is heated with oxygen in the presence of a platinum rhodium gauze catalyst at 800-950 °C to form water and nitrogen monoxide (NO) in a rapid reaction. During cooling in heat exchangers, the nitrogen monoxide converts to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) at temperatures < 50 °C with the existing as well as additionally supplied oxygen in a second reaction step. Then as cooling continues, the nitrogen dioxide partially dimerizes to dinitrogen tetroxide (N2O4). By adding water, the mixture of NO2 and N2O4 is converted to nitric acid under pressure in spray towers.

Ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3), a main component of many fertilizers, is formed by neutralizing ammonia with nitric acid.

When large-scale production first started, only woven gauze made of fine platinum wire was used as a catalyst. In modern systems, woven or knitted gauze with a platinum rhodium alloy (PtRh5) has become the standard, and are characterized by high selectivity and service life.

Experience in Upscaling as Another Factor in High Efficiency

Experience in Upscaling as Another Factor in High Efficiency

In addition to adapted plant nutrition, the protection of plants and plant-based products is vital. Therefore, agriculture requires plant-protection products in addition to fertilizers, and these products are also manufactured with process catalysts.

Technical universities and agrochemical companies are developing better and more efficient products every day. It can be a great advantage to have experienced partners in the process chemistry sector, who can recommend the right catalyst for any given process step, or even develop one in collaboration with the customer.

The real challenge is converting a new recipe to large-scale production, and it requires the expertise that specialists provide. It makes sense to consult with an expert who has the necessary experience with the specific catalysis in the various production processes. The requirements are different for every material produced. That is why extensive experience is a decisive factor in obtaining the final percentage point gains in efficiency.

A partner with diverse experience in chemistry, processes, and the appropriate equipment is the solution. A specialist with solid finances for investing in research is also a plus. Furthermore, the partners background is also an important consideration, especially for patent-related processes, since no one wants to give a potential competitor a look into their confidential optimization processes.

New Business Opportunities through New Ideas in Food Production

New Business Opportunities through New Ideas in Food Production

Even though fertilizers play a key role in food production, there are also other ways to ensure that global food requirements are met. New business opportunities and innovative ideas in sustainable food production have a lot of potential.

For example, tomatoes grow faster when the air in the greenhouse is enriched with CO2. A surplus of CO2 is available in exhaust from combustion processes, such as heating greenhouses.The gas simply needs to be purified for use. Ultimately, there is an increasing need in the food industry for high purity CO2 and a reduction in N2O.

These types of innovative concepts not only help increase the efficiency of food production. When the right ideas are implemented consistently, the benefits reach a whole new level.

Full-Service Partner for Increased Efficiency in Adjacent Processes

Wherever process catalysts are used, the precious metals in the catalysts are recycled following their service life. This helps recover value and feed back into the cash flow. When a single partner processes the catalyst and recycling, the processes can be combined using smart financial models. This provides tangible benefits, because the new catalyst already needs to be in use when the used material is being processed.

Procuring raw materials also plays a huge role. Reliable access to raw materials of suitable origin is essential. As regulations become more and more strict, seamless verification of the relevant certificates is a necessity. A partner with a good track record and the right expertise can ensure that the requirements are covered in the right way.