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Industries  Oil & Gas Ammonia

Better process measurement for ammonia plants

Improve availability and productivity

Gasification and Reforming processes used in the production of ammonia from natural gas, coal, or petcoke, result in process streams that have high pressure, temperature, and moisture, as well as high particulate loads for gasifiers. These conditions are challenging for traditional process composition analyzers to handle. In addition, serial measurement of such analyzers are often too slow to optimize key process units, and the harsh process conditions adversely impact uptime. Our Kaiser Raman analyzers overcome many of these limitations, providing fast, reliable analyses, making them an ideal alternative to these traditional approaches.


productivity improvement when optimizing the sour gas shift portion of an ammonia plant in 4 minutes using the parallel measurement capability of Raman technology

S. Sutherland, P. van Vuuren, S.P. Harris, T. Miller, “Measuring Success”, Hydrocarbon Engineering June 2019, 61-65

How we can help

Many of the process streams found in ammonia plants operate at high pressure, often with high levels of moisture and particulate. High pressure often means the sample has passed through multiple process units on its way to becoming valuable product well before analyzers like gas chromatographs can provide composition results. The extreme process conditions provide a real challenge to keeping mass spectrometers operational. Our Kaiser Raman analyzers provide an optical alternative that addresses these tough sampling conditions and the need for fast, multi-point composition response.

  • Require no columns, valves, or carrier gases, improving analyzer availability and reducing OPEX
  • Measures up to 4 streams simultaneously, for faster, more efficient process control
  • By returning sample to the process, customers can realize improved productivity and avoid flaring
  • Enhance worker safety as no toxic gases are transported from the sample tap to the analyzer
  • Measure streams up to 150 meters from the analyzer, at the speed of light, to eliminate lag times


Optimize sour gas shift process

The strategy for optimization is centered on fast compositional analysis. Based on a facilities front end pressure, relatively fast flow rates occur throughout the shift reactors in the system. As such, compositional changes can occur quickly, so fast analysis update times are essential.

Learn more here:
Raw syngas – primary reformer outlet
Raw syngas – secondary reformer outlet
High temperature shift converter outlet
Low temperature shift converter outlet

Our expertise in the field

With modern, reliable process Raman spectrometers, you can optimize the entire sour gas shift process in your ammonia plant in minutes.

  • Measure full composition of key process points in the reactors for optimization simultaneously
  • Enhance safety by avoiding liquid carryover and transport of any toxic gases to the analyzer

Monitor CO2 removal prior to synthesis

Removal of CO2 is the first stage of upgrading the syngas from the sour gas shift processes. Acid gas removal is typically done by solvent-based amine processes. Residual CO2 is removed via methanation, to prevent poisoning of the ammonia converter catalyst.

Learn more here:
CO2 absorber outlet – methanator inlet
Methanator outlet – purified gas

Our expertise in the field

Our Kaiser Raman spectrometers provides full composition analysis of the process gas, ensuring removal of the CO2 and a proper stoichiometric ratio of H2 and N2 for the synthesis loop

  • Monitor removal of the CO2 from the stream
  • Measure the N2 and H2 to ensure a proper stoichiometric ratio optimum productivity of the synthesis loop

Measure both H2 and N2 in the synthesis loop

Optimum productivity of an ammonia plant relies on knowledge and control of the ratio of H2 and N2, both in the feed gas to the synthesis loop as well as the recycled H2 and N2 from the purge gas, which is blended with the feed gas.

Learn more here:
Ammonia converter feed stream,
Ammonia converter exit stream,
Synthesis loop purge gas

Our expertise in the field

Optical measurements of process gases provide significant safety benefits over conventional analyzers that require gas to pass through the analyzer for measurement. Our Kaiser Raman spectrometers are unique in that they are the only optical process analyzers that can measure H2 and N2, critical in the manufacturing of ammonia.

  • Optimize the H2 to N2 ratio of the ammonia synthesis loop
  • Enhance safety by avoiding transport of any toxic gases to the analyzer

Process flow diagram of a typical ammonia producing plant using natural gas feedstock

In a typical ammonia producing plant using natural gas feedstock, a Steam Methane Reformer (SMR) is used to convert the natural gas to syngas, which is a mixture of mostly H2 and CO. The CO is then converted into additional H2 and CO2 using Water-Shift (WS) reactors. Subsequent syngas processing purifies the syngas by removing the CO2 via a CO2 absorber followed by the methanation of any remaining CO2 (which is a poison for the catalyst used to synthesize NH3). The N2 from an air separation unit is combined with the H2 and reacted via the Haber-Bosch process in an ammonia conversion reactor. Numbers on the diagram represent measurement points that are typically analyzed in real-time for control and optimization of the main process units.

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