From Waste to Resource: Avoiding Fouling in Ammonia Recovery

From Waste to Resource: Avoiding Fouling in Ammonia Recovery

Category:Ammonia Recovery

Chemical Engineering | Jan 2024 By Chris Rentsch and Allan Fox, Koch Modular Process Systems


With recent ammonia prices soaring, technologies for recovering and repurposing ammonia have become essential in transforming waste into a valuable resource. However, engineers face challenges in extracting ammonia from diverse aqueous streams, requiring careful selection of the most suitable technology. While distillation is a prevalent choice, fouling presents a significant hurdle as undesirable substances accumulate on heat transfer surfaces, reducing overall process efficiency. Early implementation of effective fouling control strategies is crucial for ensuring reliable and efficient ammonia recovery. 

This article proposes a design solution to address fouling by replacing the overhead shell-and-tube condenser of a distillation column with a direct contact condenser (DCC). The DCC prevents the formation of solid compounds resulting from carbon dioxide and ammonia, allowing for higher carbon dioxide levels in the feed. Consequently, the system can operate reliably with reduced downtime for cleaning. The DCC resembles a miniature stripping tower, often equipped with tower packing inside a cylindrical shell, ensuring sufficient mass transfer area between the hot condensing vapor and the cooled incoming recirculation liquid.
Explore further insights on enhancing ammonia recovery efficiency with direct contact condenser technology in "From Waste to Resource: Avoiding Fouling in Ammonia Recovery" by Koch Modular’s Chris Rentsch and Allan Fox.

About the Authors

Chris Rentsch, Koch Modular
Process Development Manager
Allan Fox, Koch Modular
Senior Process Engineer

Chat with Chris

Chris Rentsch is the process development manager at Koch Modular Process Systems. He has spent the last 20 years in various production and process engineering roles in many industry sectors, including oil-and-gas, herbicides, lithium-ion batteries, and biomass-to-renewable chemicals. Rentsch holds a B.S.Ch.E. from the University of Michigan.


Chat with Allan

Allan Fox is a senior process engineer at Koch Modular Process Systems. He has spent the last five years in process engineering roles, and the last 13 years in heat-exchanger design for various industries. he holds a B.S.Ch.E from the State University of New York at Buffalo.