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Lecture 9

Production of Straight Granulated AN and CAN

Products with nitrogen contents in the range of 30%-34.5% are classified
as straight ammonium nitrate. The following granulation processes are offered for
straight ammonium nitrate production:

Cold spherodizers

Drum granulation


Pan granulation

Fluid bed granulation

Fluidized drum granulation

These processes are used for products containing up to 34.5%N. For products that contain
up to 33.5% N, the pugmill, drum and cold spherodizers are used also [30,31]. These processes
operate the same way as for CAN. However, the ammonium nitrate melt concentrations (wt. %)
are different:





Pan granulation


Fluid bed granulation


Fluidized drum granulation


With all methods, additives are obligatory for granulation and for improving storage

Dry recycled material is fed at a controlled rate to the inclined rotating pan
granulator. In the granulator a hot melt, which is virtually moisture free, is sprayed onto the
moving bed of solids and solidifies on the cool particles. Round granules are formed by
agglomeration, and, as their size increases, they move upwards in the rotating pan, finally
rolling over the rim. The granulation temperature is controlled by the rate at which solids are
fed to the pan. An optimum temperature range for agglomeration , within which a high
growth rate of the particles is obtained, is 5-25C below the temperature at which the
fertilizer melt solidifies. The recycle ratio under these conditions is about 0.5/0.7:1 for
ammonium nitrate. Granules leaving the pan are plastic and have a somewhat irregular
surface. They enter a polishing drum where they are exposed to mild mechanical forces and
smoothed. A certain amount of cooling also occurs. Cooling to the desired product
temperature is then performed in normal cooling equipment, such as fluidized bed or a rotary
drum. Depending on the climatic conditions at the plant site and the desired product
temperature, the cooling air may be conditioned. Cooled granules are conveyed to a screen.
Oversize material from the screen is fed to a crusher and the crushed material, undersize
granules, and dust from the cyclones, are recycled to the pan.
Because of the high melt concentration and temperature, a blue fume of submicron
ammonium nitrate- similar to the fume during prilling of high-density ammonium nitrate
has to be recovered for treatment. However, the air flow from the pan and polishing drum is
relatively small. A wet scrubber may be used for recovery; this is not usually practical in a
prilling process with a high rate of air flow from the top of the prilling tower. The air from
the product cooler is treated in wet or dry cyclones.
Pollution Control
As in all industrial operations, pollution control requirements for AN and CAN plants
have become more stringent in recent years. This has posed a difficult problem for highdensity AN prilling because of the large volume of air exhausted from prill towers and
because of the very small particle size of the fume in the air. Fuming is much more severe in
high-density prilling because the AN melt must be at higher temperature (about 180C) to
keep it from freezing. At this temperature there is an appreciable vapor pressure of NH3 +
HNO3 resulting from dissociation of AN, according to the equation:


The dissociation products recombine in the cooler air to form a blue haze consisting of
AN particles of submicron size. Particles of this size are difficult to collect, and they present
a highly visible and stable haze or blue fume. The problem is much less serious with lowdensity prilling because of lower AN solution temperatures. It is less serious in granulation
processes because of much smaller volumes of air in contact with hot solution.

Production of Calcium Ammonium Nitrate

Calcium ammonium nitrate, often abbreviated CAN, is a fertilizer which is a blend of
about 20%-30% CaCO3 and 70%-80% Ammonium nitrate. CAN is produced by mixing
concentrated ammonium nitrate solution with ground calcitic or dolomitic limestone, chalk
marl, or precipitated calcium carbonate from nitrophosphate production. The mixing should
be done quickly to avoid decomposition of the ammonium nitrate:
2NH4NO3 +CaCO3 Ca(NO3)2 + 2NH3 + CO2 + H2O
Both technologies prilling and granulation can be used for production of CAN. In
prilling CAN the AN solution is premixed with the ground limestone immediately before
prilling. A rotating perforated bucket is the preferred type of drop-forming instrument. Prill
towers are very high (30 m-50 m) depending on the AN solution concentration and cooling
equipment used. Prilled CAN is conditioned with china clay, kieselguhur or calcined Fullers
earth in amount ranging from 1% to 3%. In the prill tower mean particle size is 2 mm-2.5
mm. To obtain larger product, Hoechst and CDF Chimie (now AZF) have developed
combined prilling-granulation technologies.
The prilling tower produces only seed prills from about 35% of the ammonium nitrate
solution. The prills are directed to the swelling drum where the rest of the AN and calcium
carbonate are added to the AN solution. The fines are recycled.
The following granulation processes are available:
Cold spherodizer., Fluid bed., Pugmill.and Drum.
To atmosphere





GR-1 Plugmill Granulator

G-2 Dryer
SC-3, SC-4 Screens


G-6 Conditioning drum



D-5 Fluid-bed cooler

Pan granulation of CAN has proven difficult because the pan is very sensitive to heat and
material balance factors. The product shape is irregular. The spherodizer processes and all
other processes need additives:

Spherodizer: ammonium sulfate, magnesium sulfate;

Fluid bed: magnesium nitrate.

To improve product hardness, some manufacturers using the pugmill and


sulfate about 0.3%- 0.5% of SO4.

The melt concentrations are also different. These concentrations are as follows:

Fluid bed:

98%-99% wt.


94.5%-95.5% wt.


93.5%-94.5% wt.

In the Hydro-Agri fluid bed granulation process, dedusting of the airstreams from the
granulator and fluidized bed cooler is done by scrubbing with acidified weak AN solution. The
scrubbing solution is mixed with the lime/AN mixture prior to final evaporation.
In pug-mill granulation, the AN melt and the lime are proportioned in ratio control to the pugmill. Dust, undersize product, and crushed oversize are recycled to the pug-mill. The fresh, damp
granules pass to a drying drum, and the granules are screened hot. For drying, the off-gas from
the cooler is used. At full plant load the air heater for the dryer is turned off, and the plant
operates auto-thermally. The drying air is dedusted in dry cyclones; final dedusting is performed
in scrubbers. The on-size product is cooled in a fluidized bed cooler with conditioned air. Before
storage or bagging the product is coated. Spilled product is returned to the granulation loop.