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By 2026
Asia and the Middle East lead global ammonia capacity

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Chemicals

Global ammonia capacity is expected to experience considerable growth between 2017 and 2026, increasing from 230 million tons per annum (mtpa) in 2017 to more than 280 mtpa by 2026, led by Asia and the Middle East, according to GlobalData, a data and analytics company.

The company’s report: ‘Q4 2018 Global Ammonia Capacity and Capital Expenditure Outlook – Dangote Industries Ltd and Nagarjuna Fertilizers Lead Global Capacity Additions’ reveals that around 100 planned and announced plants are scheduled to come online, predominantly in Asia and the Middle East, over the next nine years.

Within Asia, India plans to add a total capacity of approximately 8.6 mtpa by 2026 with the help of 18 planned and announced ammonia plants. Major capacity additions will be from Nagarjuna Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd.

Dayanand Kharade, Petrochemicals Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Domestic producers in India are set to have large capacity additions, primarily targeting the country’s increasing fertilizer demand and import substitution.”

GlobalData identifies the Middle East as the second highest in terms of ammonia capacity additions. Within the region, Iran has 21 planned and announced ammonia plants, with a total capacity of 8.4 mtpa by 2026.

In Africa, Nigeria plans to spend US$7.21bn and add capacity of roughly 6.6 mtpa, expected to come onstream by 2026.

Kharade adds: “In Nigeria, Dangote Industries Ltd is setting up large ammonia plants, primarily targeting domestic fertilizer demand and other export markets in the region.”

The US has nine planned and announced ammonia plants, with a capacity of around 3.1 mtpa over the next nine years, and plans to spend US$3.23bn. Major capacity additions will be from Cronus Corporation and Ohio Valley Resources LLC.

In the Former Soviet Union (FSU), most ammonia capacity additions are in Russia, with capacity of approximately 2.9 mtpa by 2026. Capex for these plants totals US$1.95bn by 2026. MCC EuroChem is the top company accounting for the major capacity additions in Russia.

In South America, the major ammonia capacity additions are in Peru, with planned and announced capacity additions of around 0.9 mtpa by 2026. Capex for these plants totals US$0.76bn. In Europe, Hungary plans to spend US$24.0m and add capacity of 0.1 mtpa, expected to come onstream by 2026.

The report states that Dangote Industries Ltd and Nagarjuna Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd leads among the key companies in terms of global capacity additions, with an estimated capacity addition of 2.9 mtpa (3 plants) and 2.0 mtpa (4 plants) respectively.

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Bilfinger 2018
Strong order book driving profitable revenue growth

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Industrial services provider Bilfinger continued to grow in the financial year 2018. Relevant key figures improved across all business segments, meeting the forecasts and in some instances even outperforming them. The Strategy 2020 stabilization phase has been completed, the set milestones have been reached: Orders received, revenue and earnings developed positively, while the Group’s liquidity and return on capital employed were at levels above those of the previous year.

“We delivered on our 2020 strategy and on our commitments to both internal and external stakeholders. I am particularly pleased with the successful conclusion of the DPA and our Monitor’s Certification that Bilfinger is on an irreversible course towards compliance self-sufficiency. I think we can confidently say that 2018 was a year of achievement for Bilfinger.”

Tom Blades, CEO Bilfinger

The business environment continued to be robust in our six focus industries, particularly in Chemicals & Petrochem, Oil & Gas and Pharma & Biopharma. Demand for engineering and maintenance services continued to build on top of growing mechanical construction opportunities in the United States.

Strengthening the sense of purpose

Bilfinger continues to fine tune and adopt its 2-4-6 Strategy to better serve customers and drive margin development. Its engineering resources delivering both project management consulting and maintenance engineering have now been fully integrated into the regions to enhance Bilfingers end-to-end EMC capabilities. Consequently, the divisions are renamed E&M effective January 1, 2019. The technology companies delivering Energy & Emissions, Biopharma and Automation products remain grouped together and serve Bilfinger customers globally from their European manufacturing base. Together they form the Technologies division also effective January 1, 2019.

Outlook 2019

In connection with the described adjustment to its organizational structure, Bilfinger is also adjusting its reporting segments as of the beginning of 2019. The forecasts and statements related to the expected development of the Group are made within the scope of these reporting structures.

In the Technologies segment, a significant increase in revenue (2018: €499 million) is expected as a result of growth in order backlog. This is subject to continued and anticipated strong orders received in the course of the year. Bilfinger expects stable revenue development in the Engineering & Maintenance Europe segment (2018: €2,732 million). At Engineering & Maintenance International, the Group sees positive momentum in the markets and therefore expects significant revenue growth (2018: €763 million).

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Chemicals

One-dimensional confinement
Molecular-weight polymer selection

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Researchers at Kanazawa University report in Nature Communications that a crystal of molecules known as pillar[5]arenes can form a host–guest compound with poly(ethylene oxides) polymers. The effect can be used to select polymers with different molecular weights and end groups.

When polymers are confined into one-dimensional (1D) channels, they behave differently. Their dynamics changes, and they may chemically bind to the surrounding channel. A team of researchers led by Tomoki Ogoshi from Kanazawa University has now shown that such 1D confinement, provided by a molecular crystal of so-called activated pillar[5]arenes, can be used to selectively capture different types of polymers.

The scientists studied host–guest binding (‘complexation’) between activated pillar[5]arenes (abbreviated ‘P5’) and poly(ethylene oxide) polymers (abbreviated ‘PEO’). P5 is a molecule consisting of 5 identical organic units featuring a benzene ring, with a pentagonal shape. The monomeric building block of PEO is O-CH2-CH2; PEOs with 100 or more monomers can easily be synthesized.

Host–guest complexation was achieved by first melting PEO at 80°C, and then immersing the P5 molecules activated by drying solvates into the melt. By means of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy measurements, Ogoshi and colleagues were able to show that PEO molecules were taken up by the P5 structure. X-ray diffraction experiments showed that the crystal structure of the P5 molecules had changed into a network featuring channels.

The researchers then looked at what happened with a mixture of PEOs consisting of various numbers of monomers. The number of building blocks affects the weight — the more monomers, the heavier the polymer. Ogoshi and colleagues discovered that the heavier PEOs were taken up in larger quantities, showing that the P5 host can select PEOs with high mass fraction from a polydisperse mixture. By means of computer simulations, it was possible to attribute this finding to an increased binding energy for the larger (heavier) PEOs.

The scientists also investigated the effect of the PEO’s end group. The fastest PEO uptake was observed for methoxy end groups (O-CH3), for which an equilibrium state was reached after 3 minutes. For OH and NH2 end groups, the times to reach equilibrium were 10 and 20 minutes, respectively. Uptake for PEO with COOH as the end group was slow.

The observation by Ogoshi and colleagues that P5 crystals can perform high mass fractionation from polymer mixtures with a broad molecular-weight distribution is important because, quoting the scientists, “high-molecular-weight polymers generally exhibit superior characteristics such as increased thermal stability, improved mechanical properties, and higher crystallinity compared with low-molecular-weight polymers.”

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Chemicals Food & Beverage Measurement, Instrumentation, Control & Automation

Digital metering and control devices
New Features for Industrial Gas Flow Meters

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Mass Flow Controller for gases with Profinet Interface. Picture: Bronkhorst
Mass Flow Controller for gases with Profinet Interface. (Picture: Bronkhorst)

The In-Flow Mass Flow Meters and Controllers by Bronkhorst High-Tech, The Netherlands, are of rugged design according IP65 (dust- and waterproof). The instruments are available for flow ranges from 0,05-1 mln/min up to 200-10000 m3n/h Air-equivalent.

In addition to the optional Atex approval for use in Category 3, Zone 2 hazardous areas, the In-Flow series can now be offered with FM approval for Class I, Division 2, which is an important feature for the North American market.

Furthermore Bronkhorst announces the availability of a Profinet fieldbus interface on their industrial mass flow meters and controllers for gases (for this new fieldbus the FM and Atex approvals are pending). Profinet is said to be the “new standard for industrial automation”, offering major savings in configuration and commissioning. The flexible architecture of Profinet with its comprehensive scope of functions enables innovative, flexible, and cost-saving machine automation: maximum performance and precision, flexible address assignment and modular design, fast commissioning thanks to open access and defined interfaces and optimal diagnostics of devices as well as the network.

Bronkhorst has many years of experience with fieldbus communication. Depending on customer requirements, their digital flow meters and controllers can be equipped with one of the six available fieldbus interface options. The wide range of digital metering and control devices is applied in many different markets, e.g. the food & beverage, pharmaceutical and chemical industries, glass and tool coating processes and in machinery for solar cell production.

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