Ammonia is one of the main sources of nitrogen in fertilisers, as it contains 82% of nitrogen (N), which is essential for the life of plants. Ammonia (NH3) is produced through a chemical reaction (electrolysis). Most of the world’s ammonia production is based on the Haber-Bosch process which was developed by BASF in 1910. It involves the reaction of hydrogen and nitrogen in the presence of a catalyst under high temperatures and pressures.
The hydrogen is usually obtained by the steam reforming of natural gas (methane) but can also be made from the partial oxidation of naphtha and the gasification of coal. The nitrogen is usually obtained by the liquefaction of air. This reaction requires a large amount of energy and, nowadays, this is provided mainly in the form of natural gas, as it is the most economic, but there are still some ammonia plants, for example in China and Japan, which operate based on naphtha and coal. Since the 1970s, the production of ammonia, which was born in Europe, has gradually migrated to countries rich in cheap natural gas, such as Russia, Ukraine, Trinidad, Libya, Algeria, Egypt, the Arab Gulf and Indonesia .
To find out more Ammonia Methodology February 2013