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Agriculture and Rural Development
Date: Tuesday, 04 June 2019 - Wednesday, 05 June 2019

Venue: Les Ateliers des Tanneurs

The IFS Technical Conference continues on its travels around Europe.  In 2019 it will be held in the centre of Brussels, close to Bruxelles Midi train station.

The conference will run from lunch on Tuesday 4 June until lunch on Wednesday 5 June, with four papers on the 4th, and five on the 5th.  The usual Conference dinner will be held on the evening of the 4th, at the renowned Les Brigittines restaurant.  Therefore delegates from within Europe will be able to benefit from the standard IFS provision of information and networking, whilst only needing to be away for one night.

Registration for the conference is now open.  This can be done either by downloading the registration form as a Word document, and then sending this to the Secretary, or by completing the  online version of the form.

Regarding accomodation, we have agreed a preferential rate for delegates at the nearby  Hotel Mercure for the night of 4 June, that is noticeably lower than those quoted elsewhere. If you wish to take advantage of this, please e-mail the Society Secretary.

Other hotels close to the venue are the BedfordNovotel MidiIbis Midi, and Park Inn Radisson.

Detailed joining information for delegates, including the conference programme is available to download.

The conference programme is shown below; further abstracts will be added as they are received.

Tuesday 4 June

Foaming inside ammonium nitrate tanks and remedies

Haseeb Hayat, Fatima Fertiliser Company, Pakistan

 This paper covers the remedial control measures adopted to avert foaming and overflow in the hot ammonium nitrate (AN) storage tank. AN inflows to the buffer tank are from two sources - byproduct AN from an NP (Upstream) plant, and AN produced by direct neutralisation of ammonia and nitric acid. AN from the NP plant is preferred for CAN production, while any make up requirement is met from the AN plant. There have been instances in the past whereby the entire volume of the AN storage tank (150 m3) swelled up and substantial amounts of hot ammonium nitrate overflowed, with extensive steam being emitted from the emergency relief hatch, local vent and overflow line.

This was a matter of great concern with respect to personnel and equipment safety. To prevent any recurrence, several administrative and engineering control measures were implemented that will be described in the paper.

A new AN Tank was designed in line with EFMA Guidelines (Guidance for the Storage of Hot Ammonium Nitrate Solutions - 2005) and was critically reviewed for compliance during PHAs at various stages of project execution, being found to be compliant. In this paper, we aim to provide a better understanding of ammonium nitrate melt storage and handling, and suggest learning based improvements in the guidelines to avoid recurrence.

The Fatima Group was established in 1936, to trade commodities, and gradually started to manufacture various products. Today, the Group is engaged in commodity trading, manufacturing fertilisers, textiles, sugar, mining and energy. Over 10,000 people are directly or indirectly associated with Fatima Group, in various capacities.

Fatima Group has three fertilizer complexes (Fatima Fertilizer Limited, Pakarab Fertilizer Limited and Fatima Fertilizer) which produce a wide variety of nitrogeneous and phosphatic fertilisers, including urea, calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) and nitro phosphate (NP), to cater for the agronomy of the country. The combined manufacturing capacity is 2.74 million metric tonnes (MMT) per annum, including. urea : ~1.04 MMT, CAN : ~0.96 MMT and NP : ~0.74 MMT per annum.

Innovative use of thermal imaging to identify flow problems in an AN neutraliser

Rodrigo Dias Concalves, Yara Brazil

After several years in operation, the Neutralisation towers of an atmospheric pressure AN solution plant were replaced during the 2015 maintenance shutdown, due to thickness losses. However, after start-up the plant experienced an unstable operation: level oscillation in the collecting vessel, vibration of AN piping and equipment, intermittent flow and hammer effects in the towers. The plant load could not be increased, and there were signs of iron contamination in the AN Solution.

It was clear that there was a flow problem in the towers, so it was decided to use a thermal camera to evaluate the flow profile. The thermal images showed problems just above the 2nd stage distributor, in the area of the ammonia pipe feed, which enabled the possible causes of the problems to be narrowed down. The towers were opened for examination and comparison with the drawings and the old towers. This revealed that the new towers were not exactly identical to the old ones, as they were supposed to be. This presentation will explain the cause of this problem and describe the solution that was implemented.

The principles and applications of a directory of urea safety incidents, with case studies

Mark Brouwer, UreaKnowHow.com

In 2018, AmmoniaKnowHow.com and UreaKnowHow.com introduced FIORDA to the fertiliser industry: The Fertilizer Industry Operational Risks Database, a cloud based global set of risk registers for ammonia and urea plants (www.fiorda.eu). FIORDA is  a database for fertiliser manufacturers developed by an independent group of engineers and members of AmmoniaKnowHow.com and UreaKnowHow.com.

FIORDA's mission is to improve safety and reliability performance of fertiliser plants by collecting and exchanging process safety data among the participating companies and acting as focal point for co-ordination and management of process safety data collection within the fertiliser industry.

FIORDA has developed a structured database extracting data from process safety incidents, lesson learned, members projects experience covering a variety of geographic areas, plants, equipment types and operating conditions. The FIORDA data are stored in a database available for our member companies and contractors working on their behalf.

The necessity of such information database comes from three basic needs: Safety in operation, Plant integrity and Production availability.

Ensuring high level of process safety knowledge and understanding is paramount to safe and reliable operations in the fertiliser industry. FIORDA has collected data to determine the causes, the consequence, the type and level of risk, and the likelihood of such failures. Recommendations for each case are provided to help operators to better understand the path to secure a safe and reliable operation. A query among the fertiliser industries shows that the need for such data is high. 

FIORDA helps operators to better understand the risks within their plants by providing examples from various case studies and reduce operational costs through the application of process know-how and process safety data.

Generally, process safety is associated with engineering design studies. However, in the last decade such data have been given increased attention for use also in the operating phase.

With thousands of lessons learned, cases and examples thoroughly documented, the FIORDA database is a valuable tool for fertiliser manufacturers who wish to be up to date and compliant with EU and international legislation. The paper will include several case studies to illustrate the above.

The production, use and benefits of decarbonised ammonia

Rob Stevens, Yara International

Yara's new unit 'Decarbonise Yara' will focus on the main aspects of green house gas emissions within Yara's operations. Decarbonising fertiliser production, with ammonia as the main product, will only be possible when upstream decarbonised energy sources are addressed. The full value chain needs to be decarbonised, and the focus will include nitrate based fertilisers. All this, and more, can be facilitated by decarbonised ammonia in collaboration with internal Yara business units and new external partnerships. The presentation will cover a few examples of initiatives towards this energy transition. 

Wednesday 5 June 

SHE experiences with acquisitions and integration - what to look out for

Jan-Petter Fossum, Yara International

SHE is a concern when conducting any merger, divestment  and acquisition in the chemical industry and, within this, the fertiliser industry. Potential costs, such as the responsibility for cleaning up past environmental pollution to soil or water, might impact heavily on the business case. The same issues apply if the safety integrity of the site is under the acceptance criteria of the company.  Thus it is of vital importance to detect any such issues as early as possible, to develop a baseline situation that both parties can agree and rely on. This presentation sets out how this can be achieved.

Risks posed to the fertiliser industry from cyber-attacks, and how to guard against them

Simon Poppe, Allia Insurance Brokers n.v/s.a

This presentation will cover four aspects of cyber attacks and their consequences.  Firstly, the types of cyber risk threats, including malicious attacks (with examples provided), human error (with examples provided), risks stemming from regulation (such as GDPR), and fraud. The second aspect covered will be the possible loss, that makes cyber risk management unavoidable. This will include loss statistics, business interruption, Third party liability and incident response. Third will be cyber insurance policy coverage - does this provide added value, and what can be covered? The fourth aspect covered will be that of risk assessment.


Realising Phosphorus Recycling  - Plant scale trials using recycled P material and their indications for future potential

Sabrina Brandjes and Mark Boontjes, ICL Group

In June we will present our findings on the implementation of phosphorus recycling at the ICL plant in Amsterdam. We will discuss the problems encountered in the past using sewage sludge ashes (SSA) on a large scale. From those results, decisions were made to build an installation that allows us to easily use SSA with additional calcium carbonate in the traditional acidulation process.

However, the amount of SSA that we can process is still limited. To increase these amounts in the future, laboratory research has been conducted. Therefore, we will discuss the different challenges that we still have to increase the amount of sewage sludge ashes that we can process. Also, we will outline our vision on the future of secondary phosphorus in Europe as the EU continues to implement stricter legislation on heavy metal concentrations in fertilizers and continues to push towards the recycling of nutrients in general.

The Ash2Phos process for recovering P from a variety of ashed materials

Yariv Cohen, EasyMining Sweden AB

This paper will describe the technology underpinning this process, and how it can fit into a recycling value chain with recovered materials. It recovers P in commercial, detoxified and safe forms (for instance better than feed grade and with Cd levels below the limit of quantification), providing domestically sourced nutrient concentrates for use by the existing European fertiliser industry. 

The EU New Fertilizer regulation: a game changer?

Antoine Hoxha, Fertilizers Europe 

In 2019 the European Union will adopt a new fertilizer regulation. It will cover a wide range of products such as mineral, organic, organo-mineral fertilisers as well as related materials such as liming materials, growing media and biostimulants.

The presentation will cover the main aspects of the new regulation regarding mineral fertilisers such as nutrient contents, solubility requirements, contaminant limits, biodegradability criteria etc. It will also reflect on the fundamental impacts that this regulation, coming under the umbrella of the circular economy, may have on the structure of the fertiliser industry.

This year the IFS Technical Conference finishes with lunch on 5th June, and is followed at the same venue (5th June afternoon, 6th June) by the 1st Summit of the Organic and Organo-mineral Fertiliser Industry in Europe (SOFIE), organised by ESPP in partnership with IFS. The SOFIE programme can be seen here , and conference registration is here#EUevents


Rue des Tanneurs 60A, 1000 Bruxelles


All Dates

  • From Tuesday, 04 June 2019 to Wednesday, 05 June 2019

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