Agrium, a leading global producer and marketer of agricultural nutrients, has recently expanded its potash processing capability in Saskatchewan, Canada, with the addition of a fourth conditioning and polishing system. The new system, from GEA Barr-Rosin, represents the latest technology for potash conditioning providing the highest quality products for use primarily as fertilizers, food additives, in glass manufacture, and de-icer for frozen roads.
Potash is supplied either in a compacted granular form or finer particles. Both have advantages relevant to the final use. In their un-conditioned form, compacted potash particles have hard edges and crevasses which generate dust when shipped and spread on the fields so generate emissions and product waste. The conditioning and polishing process reshapes these particles, giving them rounded edges, and provides them with a hard crystalline coating that protects them in transit and ensures a slow release of the nutrients in the fields.
GEA Barr-Rosin first supplied Agrium with a conditioning and polishing system in 2005. Since then the plant’s throughput has multiplied, additional systems have been added and GEA Barr-Rosin has refined the design of its technology to meet the ever increasing commercial needs of its customer.
Potash quality is characterised not so much by the raw material but the way in which it is prepared for the market. Particle shape, particle size distribution, moisture content, surface hardness and particle density are all critical to ensure safe, economic transportation and efficient release of nutrients. By controlling these factors, GEA Barr-Rosin is able to optimise every important aspect of the product design.
“It’s not just the equipment,” explained Francis Chartrand from GEA Barr-Rosin. “Over the years we have expanded our knowledge of both the capabilities of the equipment and the demands of the process through constant research, product development and hands-on work. I believe we are now in a unique position to supply both the technology and the know-how to help any potash supplier achieve the most commercial product in the most efficient way possible.” Indeed GEA Barr-Rosin estimates that it currently holds approximately 80% of the new market for potash conditioning and polishing in North America.
The system itself comprises a GEA Barr-Rosin conditioning drum that smooths sharp edges from particles, and adds water to treat and permit surface re-crystallization. A GEA fluid bed dryer then completes the process with drying, cooling and dedusting to achieve the required cleanness, moisture and temperature creating a product that’s ready to ship. With its unique washable design, this system can reduce shutdowns dramatically and improve production.
According to Francis, it’s all about providing the customer with reliability, productivity and a continuously cleaner, harder, nicer product with a guaranteed security of outcome. “Being able to supply the complete process plant gives us a commercial advantage,” said Francis. “With each new product generation we maintain our leadership position – constant evolution keeping us permanently one step ahead.”
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