Unraveling the Urea Challenge: AZO's Pursuit of Coating Preservation

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In the world of chemical manufacturing, precision and innovation often go hand in hand. In this particular story, we encounter a chemical company specializing in fertilizer production. Their quest was both unique and essential: conveying urea pellets coated with time-release coatings. These coatings were fragile, and any damage during pneumatic conveying could compromise their time-release properties. In this article, we delve into how AZO tackled this intricate challenge.

The Company and Its Industry

Our story revolves around a chemical company with a unique product in the fertilizer industry. They produce fertilizers, with a particular focus on urea pellets coated with time-release coatings. These coatings are a critical component, as they determine the rate at which the fertilizer is released into the soil, ensuring optimal plant nourishment over an extended period.

The Challenge: Delicate Time-Release Coatings

The challenge at hand was ensuring the safe conveyance of coated urea pellets coated without damaging the time-release coatings. The customer had concerns that pneumatic conveying might inadvertently damage these coatings by scratching or cracking that would significantly compromise its time-release properties. The stakes were high, as the efficacy of their fertilizer product hinged on the integrity of these coatings during manufacturing and packaging.

The Process Evaluation

AZO's journey began with extensive discussions with the customer. These conversations delved into the intricacies of the coating's fragility and the potential issues associated with conveying such a delicate product. Internally, AZO's experts deliberated on possible solutions, ultimately gravitating towards dense phase pressure conveying as a potential remedy.

Material Assessment Studies and Lab Work

Recognizing the uniqueness of the challenge and the friability of the product, AZO deemed it essential to conduct upfront material analysis and lab testing to validate the concept. The lack of prior experience with this type of coating necessitated a thorough exploration of its behavior during the conveying process.

Engineering Considerations and Innovative Solutions

The heart of the challenge lay in conveying the coated product without compromising the delicate coatings. AZO designed and installed a prototype to convey the pellets the desired distance using a dense phase pressure system. In our state-of-the-art test lab in Germany. While progress was made, issues arose during testing, particularly in achieving the desired through-put with dense phase conveying. Sampling by the customer was carried out and meticulously reviewed to assess any coating degradation.  Multiple tests were run with varying rates to minimize the pellet damage while maximizing the convey transfer rate.

Here's the twist, the AZO tests highlighted the reality the project / concept was flaued.  An acceptable amount of thruput, damaged the pellets beyond saleable value.  To achieve the damage target, the convey rate was nowhere near that assumed in the return on investment calculation.  The project was economically unviable.

AZO's Role and the Pursuit of Excellence

While the test was ultimately judged a failure, the chemical client was relieved that AZO suggested a test, other consultants had told the chemical company otherwise.  AZO played a pivotal role throughout this journey, providing guidance and expertise to navigate the complex challenge. While the urea-coated particles could be conveyed, degradation was a serious problem at the required conveying speed.  AZO believed the overall testing process cast doubt on the project's viability and gladly shared that information with the client.  .  

In conclusion, this collaboration between chemical client and AZO illustrates a relentless pursuit of excellence and precision. While the specific pneumatic conveying challenge faced by the fertilizer company was complex, AZO employed its best engineering judgment for this client.   With AZO, we are committed to solving your complex chemical challenges.

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