Corporate Social Responsibilty
Liquid anhydrous ammonia is received in railcars and unloaded into our storage and transfer system. The ammonia is primarily used to produce Nitric Acid, and the Nitric Acid is further reacted with Ammonia to produce Liquid Ammonium Nitrate Fertilizer, which ultimately serve the mining and agricultural industries in the Southwestern USA and Northern Mexico. As an additional process, Ammonia is absorbed in ultra pure water to produce Ammonium Hydroxide, which is used for Nitrous Oxide abatement in Electric Power Generation Facilities.
Anhydrous ammonia is converted to nitric acid using the ammonium oxidation process (AOP) with platinum as the primary reaction catalyst. This process produces an acid solution with a typical concentration of 55% to 60% by weight. The process reacts ammonia gas with air across a 95% platinum and 5% rhodium gauze to produce nitrogen oxide gases. These gases are further reacted with air to produce nitrogen oxides. The resultant nitric oxide gas is bleached with air, cooled and absorbed by direct contact with water to produce nitric acid. Apache typically produces 55% to 60% percent strength for further in-plant processing and for direct sales.
The Liquid Ammonium Nitrate (LAN) Plant then reacts nitric acid with ammonia to produce 82% to 84% LAN. The majority of the LAN is dehydrated and Prilled to produce Low Density Prilled Ammonium Nitrate (LDPAN) and a specialty LDPAN called EXPAN™. The LDPAN and EXPAN™ are sold to the mines, where fuel oil is blended to make ANFO and EXPANFO™. Some of the LAN is sold for the production of emulsions, which are blended then with the ANFO and EXPANFO™ to produce a very efficient blasting agent. The remainder of the LAN is used in blending fertilizer solutions for specialty vegetables, alfalfa and other plants that prefer this fertilizer.
In our Prill Plant, the LAN is dehydrated to roughly 96.5% (the water is removed) using steam as heat in a falling film evaporation process. The concentrated LAN is then pumped to the top of a Prilling Tower, approximately 220 feet tall, where the liquid is sprayed in a rising air stream. The rising air immediately cools the droplet surface, and as the droplet falls and spins in the upward air draft, a spherical Prill is formed. The temperature of the Prills formed in the tower are closely controlled to allow for drying without hard-casing the Prill, and this forms what is also known a Porous Prilled Ammonium Nitrate or LDPAN as we refer to it. In the process, we can also add material that enhances the characteristics of the Prill and produce a proprietary and patented product called EXPAN™.