Case Studiy - Fertala 1026
The Bottom Line
Clariant’s Fertala 1026 anti-caking and anti-dusting agent for soluble crystallized potassium nitrate (CPN)…
- Enables bulk shipment of CPN overseas without packaging
- Saves tens-of-millions of dollars in shipping costs annually
- Keeps CPN free flowing until it is ready for use
- Provides virtually dust-free handling that meets environmental regulations
From fertilizers to gun powder to enamel glazes, CPN has a variety of uses. Due to its ability to absorb ambient humidity, the salt can turn rock hard if not protected from moisture during handling and shipping.
In an effort to reduce overseas shipping costs of its CPN product, one large producer in Chile approached Clariant with a goal of replacing its poor-performing anti-caking agent. Since the product was used in soluble fertilizers for fertirrigation and hydroponics applications, it required a non-coating hydrophilic (water soluble) anti-caking agent that weakens the salt’s binding properties.
Beyond anti-caking, the new soluble Clariant agent was required to simultaneously reduce the amount of dust generated to adhere to strict environmental regulation limits when shipping in bulk. The anti-caking and anti-dusting agent was also required to help prevent the formation of algae when mixed with soluble fertilizers, reducing the chance of irrigation pipe clogging.
The customer established targets for dust formation and caking behavior to meet the most stringent environmental regulations and extreme temperature and ambient humidity conditions experienced during overseas shipping. Using this criteria, Clariant engineers devised lab trials for an agent that would simultaneously prevent both caking and dusting in order to allow the CPN to flow freely.
Production of CPN occurs in salt deposits left behind by evaporated sea beds. While large in size, there are a relatively few such deposits, and the salt products are shipped world-wide. Increased global consumption of CPN for use in fertilizers has industrial mineral companies searching for new ways to improve operating efficiencies in an effort to supply this growing demand.
Approximately 10 years ago, one publicly owned Chilean salt deposit was sold to a private company that annually produces approximately 900,000 tons of CPN. The product is shipped internationally for use in water soluble fertilizers. To prevent the CPN from solidifying during handling and transport, an anti-caking agent in powder form is added at a dosage of 2.5-3 kg/ton but delivers substandard results. The agent also provides no anti-dusting effect.
Initially, the company shipped the product overseas in one-ton bags, which significantly added to the processing costs. In order to reach overseas customers at competitive prices, the customer wanted to switch to bulk shipping the CPN in 6,000 to 15,000-ton quantities. In order to achieve this, an anti-caking agent with improved performance was needed.
Additionally, an anti-dusting agent would also be necessary in order to comply with environmental regulations for loading and unloading operations, especially at ports.
Clariant worked with the customer to develop a new anti-caking agent to improve the salt’s anti-caking characteristics and allow it flow freely for bulk shipping. The agent also offered an anti-dusting characteristic to meet environmental regulations for dust, not required when the product was packaged in bags.
Clariant engineers received and tested CPN samples from the producer’s salt deposit. Multiple in-house trials were conducted of different anti-caking and anti-dusting formulations to create the best dressing agent that delivered the desired results for the customer’s specific deposits.
After careful analysis of hundreds of different formulations, Clariant engineers determined that Fertala 1026 proved to be the best performing anti-caking and anti-dusting agent for the salt substrate. Clariant custom-designed the agent in liquid form to be applied prior to entering the rotary dryer. Fertala 1026 withstands the high, 130° C temperatures of the dryer, and movement through the dryer thoroughly blends the mixture.
The customer conducted its own lab tests using Fertala 1026, and it delivered results consistent with Clariant’s analysis. Approved for industrial trial, Fertala 1026 was field tested over a 1-year period on three overseas bulk shipments of progressively increasing tonnage. The producer and Clariant followed the shipment from port to port to customer and studied the product’s caking and dusting characteristics. No issues were discovered with the CPN blended with Fertala 1026 with regards to product flowability or dusting.
Fertala 1026 improves anti-caking performance at the same 2.5-3 kg/ton dosage rate of the customer’s previous agent. Plus, it reduces the dust to meet strict environmental standards.
This custom-designed Clariant agent…
- Improves anti-caking, free-flowing characteristics of CPN
- Increases CPN storage life
- Permits bulk overseas shipment of CPN
- Meets strict environmental dust standards for loading and unloading at ports
- Does not promote fungal growth in aqueous solution
- Is completely water soluble and not sensitive to water hardness
- Saves tens of millions of dollars annually in handling, packaging and shipment costs
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