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Brief process description of urea plant

Tata Chemicals owns fertilizer complex at Babrala. It has adopted

Snapgrogetti NH3 stripping process for the production of urea. It has two
identical units (11 and 21) of the same nameplate capacity 1125 MTPD each,
so the total capacity is 2250 MTPD.

Raw material required for urea production

The raw material condition at the battery limit is as under:
NH3 min

99.5% wt
10 ppm max
0.5% wt

Carbon di oxide:
CO2 (dry basis)

98.7% vol.min
0.5 % vol min
0.3% vol min

Utilities characteristics:
Cooling water:
Pressure (norm/degn)
Inlet temperature
Outlet temperature
Fouling factor
Electric power:
Alternating current
Direct current

3.5 / 6.0 kg/cm2g

35 0C
45 0C
0.0004 m2 h 0C/kcal

11 KV 50Hz 3ph
3.3kV 50Hz 3ph
415 V 50Hz 3ph
115 V 1Ph

Service air:
Moister saturated
Pressure (norm/degn) 7 / 11 kg/cm2
Temperature 40 0C
Instrument air:
Pressure 7 / 11 kg/cm2
Temperature 40 0C
Type Oil free

Dew point - -20 0C max at 7 kg/cm2

Polished water:
Silica (reactive)

0.2 s cm-1
0.02 s cm-1
0.01 ppm
0.1 ppm
0.5 ppm

Nitrogen plus noble gases
Pressure (min/norm)

99.6% vol
20 ppm max
20 ppm max
200 ppm max
5/7 kg/cm2

Urea is commercially manufactured by direct synthesis of gaseous carbon

dioxide and liquid ammonia.
The urea production involves following steps:
1. Urea synthesis and high pressure recovery
2. Urea purification and medium low pressure recovery
3. Urea concentration
Pre vacuum concentration
Vacuum concentration
4. Urea Prilling
5. Waste water treatment
1. Urea synthesis and high-pressure recovery
For urea production raw materials (liquid ammonia and gaseous carbon
dioxide) are supplied by the ammonia plant.
The liquid ammonia is pumped at high pressure through an ejector into the
reactor. The ejector serves as drive less pump to recycle back ammonia and
CO2 mixture at high pressure known as carbamate into the synthesis loop.
CO2 mixed with small but measured quantity of air is compressed in a fourstage compressor up to synthesis pressure. CO 2 from the compressor outlet
is fed to the reactor. The NH3 and CO2 react in the reactor to form an
intermediate product rehydrates to form urea and water. The oxygen in the
air forms a passive oxide layer on the inner surface of the vessel to prevent
corrosion by carbamate and urea.

The reaction products from the reactor overflow to the stripper where the
unconverted carbamate is decomposed back into the constituents with the
help of the heat supplied by MP steam. The stripper is basically a falling film
exchanger with urea solution on the tube side and MP steam on the shell
side. The urea solution obtained at the bottom flows to MP section through a
level control valve.
The vapors from the stripper top enter the HP carbamate condenser along
with the carbamate solution from MP section. Here they condense to form
carbamate solution again and in the process releasing a large amount of heat
of condensation, which is utilized to generate the low-pressure steam on the
shell side. Vapors consisting mainly of inerts are sent from the carbamate
separator to the bottom of the MP decomposer to passivate the MP section.
2.Urea Purification
Urea purification takes place in two stages. One is known as MP section and
the other is known as LP section.
Medium Pressure section
Urea solution from the bottom of the stripper enters the MP decomposer.
During the expansion most of the remaining carbamate flashes forming the
NH3 and CO2 vapors, thereby concentrating the urea solution. The vapors
from the MP decomposer top flow to pre vacuum concentrator shell side and
from pre vacuum concentrator to MP condenser shell side. Prior to the entry
of the vapors in the pre vacuum concentrator the vapors get mixed with the
low concentration carbonate solution from the LP section. The partly
condensed gas mixture from MP condenser outlet goes to MP absorber where
the CO2 is stripped from the NH 3 vapors and the pure NH 3 vapors from the MP
absorber flow to the ammonia condenser. The solution at the bottom of the
MP absorber provides the suction for the HP carbamate pump. Ammonia
condenser has cooling water on tube side.
From ammonia condenser both vapor and liquid flow to the ammonia receiver
tank. The receiver tank receives fresh ammonia from the ammonia plant. The
inert gases saturated leaving the receiver enter the ammonia recovery tower.
Here ammonia is further condensed by direct contact with cold ammonia
from the battery limit. The inert with residual ammonia from the tower are
sent to MP inert wash tower via a condenser. The ammoniacal solution
collected at the bottom is recycled back to the MP absorber.
Low Pressure Recovery
The urea solution from MP decomposer bottom enters the LP decomposer
after expansion through a level controller. Consequently most of the residual
carbamate is decomposed and in the process urea solution gets
concentrated. The remaining carbamate is decomposed in falling film
exchanger, which is a part of LP decomposer.

The vapors from the LP decomposer enter the LP condenser where they get
cooled and liquefied. Prior to entry of LP off gases in LP condenser the vapors
get mixed with aqueous solution from wastewater section. The vapors thus
formed get condensed in LP condenser goes to carbonate solution tank from
where it is sent back to MP condenser. The inert gases in the tank contain
considerable amount of ammonia and thus are absorbed in cool condensate
before being sent to the vent stack.
The urea solution at the bottom of LP decomposer is sent to pre vacuum
concentrator through a level controller valve.
3.Urea concentration
Pre Vacuum concentrator
The urea solution from LP decomposer enters the pre vacuum concentrator,
which is an exchanger with urea solution from the LP section on tube side
and MP decomposer off-gases on the shell side. The MP decomposer offgases give their heat and the urea solution gets concentrated in the process.
The pre vacuum concentrator operates under vacuum and the vapors from
the top are condensed in the pre vacuum condenser. The vapors condensing
in the pre vacuum condenser are collected at the bottom in vacuum system
tank and the liquid is sent to the wastewater section.
The concentrated urea solution at the bottom is sent to the vacuum
concentrated section.
Vacuum concentration
The urea solution from the pre vacuum section bottom gets further
concentrated up to the concentration required for prilling in two vacuum
concentrators in series. The heat for concentrating the urea solution is
supplied by low-pressure steam. The vacuum is maintained in both the
stages with the help of ejectors and condensers. The urea solution from the
outlet of second vacuum concentrator has 99.7%(w/w) concentration and is
pumped to prilling section. The vapors from both the stages get condensed in
the condensers and are sent to the wastewater section.
4.Urea Prilling
The urea melt from the second vacuum concentrator is sent to the prilling
bucket. The urea melt comes out from the bucket in the form of liquid drops
and they fall along the prilling tower. The drops get solidified and cooled by
the countercurrent flow of air from the bottom of prilling tower. The solidified
urea melt drops known as urea prills, fall on the prilling tower bottom. These
prills are collected by a rotating scrapper and are sent to the bagging plant
with the help of belt conveyors. The heated air containing few ppm of NH 3 is
released from the top into the atmosphere.

5.Waste water treatment

The liquid waste containing water, urea, NH3 and CO2 from the process, the
condensate from vacuum and pre vacuum concentrator ejector/ condensers
are collected in a wastewater tank. From here it is transferred to the
distillation tower where it is fed in the upper portion of the distillation tower.
The stripping medium is low-pressure steam fed at the bottom of the tower.
The NH3 stripped wastewater is then pumped to the hydrolyser where the
urea in the wastewater is hydrolyzed to be converted back into NH 3 and CO2.
The hydrolyzation takes place with the help of the superheated steam. The
wastewater from the hydrolyser outlet contains only few ppm of urea but still
has NH3 in it. So the wastewater from the hydrolyser outlet is again fed to
the lower portion of the distillation column where the remaining NH 3 is
stripped off and the wastewater at the distillation tower at the bottom
contains only few ppm of NH 3 and urea. This treated water is sent to O&U
plant for reuse. The vapors from the distillation tower and hydrolyser get
condensed in the overhead condenser and are recycled back to the LP section
and a part of it is used as reflux for distillation column. The distillation
column is a trayed column.
Steam and Condensate system:
The steam network provided in the urea plant are:
1. Superheated steam (KS) network at P = 110 kg/cm 2g & T
2. Superheated steam (HS) network at P = 37 kg/cm2g & T
3. Saturated steam (MS) network at P
= 22 kg/cm2g & T
4. Saturated steam (LS) network at P
= 3.5 kg/cm2g & T
5. Saturated steam (KS) network at P
= 4.7 kg/cm 2g & T



KS Network:
The steam is available at urea plant battery limit and is utilized to drive the
CO2 compressor turbine. It may be used to provide the MS steam in case of
failure of turbine extraction steam
HS Network:
This steam is available at the point battery limit and is utilized in hydrolyzer.
MS Network:
This steam is extracted from the CO2 compressor turbine and is de super
heated to make it saturated. This steam is utilized in the stripper and MP
LS Network:
This steam is produced in the HP carbamate condenser shell & is used in the
following equipments / systems:
1. LP decomposer

2. First vacuum concentrator

3. Second vacuum concentrator
4. Distillation tower bottom
5. Prevacuum / vacuum system ejectors
6. Steam tracing
7. Steam jackets
8. MP start up lines
9. MP inert gas wash tower vent line
Steam condensate collector tank
Blow down vents, ME-14, ME-15, ME-21
PSV flushing
Mech seal/ jacket flushing of P-08, P-09, & P-20
Utilities points
LMS Network:
This steam is produced by boosting LS pressure with the help of an
ejector with MS as motive fluid. The steam is utilized in the MP
Condensate collection:
Turbine condensate is exported to O & U for steam generation. MS & HS
condensate known as MC & HC respectively is utilized for LS generation in
HP carbamate condenser shell.
LS condensate known as LC from all the sources in the plant is collected
in a common tank as steam condensate tank. From where it is used for
flushing purpose and the excess condensate is exported to O&U.
Flushing Network:
Condensate in the steam condensate tank is utilized to provide flushing
water requirement in all the sections of the plant. There are three types of
KW Network : Flushing water at pressure of about 180 kg/cma
HW Network : Flushing water at pressure of about 25 kg/cma
LW Network : Flushing water at pressure of about 10 kg/cma

Detailed description of the process:

Prior to synthesis in the HP section of the plant the raw materials for urea
production i.e. NH3 & CO2 are not at the required synthesis pressure &
temperature, so they need to be brought to the synthesis condition. Here
is being described first the CO2 compressor and then the rest of the plant.