Diagnosis of an alternative ammonia process technology to reduce exergy losses

Ali Ghannadzadeh*, Majid Sadeqzadeh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Ammonia production through more efficient technologies can be achieved using exergy analysis. Ammonia production is one of the most important but also one of most energy consuming processes in the chemical industry. Based on a panel of solutions previously developed, this study helps to identify potential areas of improvement using an exergy analysis that covers all aspects of conventional ammonia synthesis and separation. The total internal and external exergy losses are calculated as 3,152 and 6,364 kJ/kg, respectively. The process is then divided into five main functional blocks based on their exergy losses. The reforming block contains the largest exergy loss (3,098 kJ/kg) and thus the largest potential for improvement including preheating cold feed through an economizer, developing technology towards isobaric mixing, and pressure drop reduction in the secondary reformer as the main contributors to the irreversibility (1,302 kJ/kg) in this block. The second largest exergy loss resides in the ammonia synthesis block (3,075 kJ/kg) where solutions such as reduced temperature rise across the compressor, proper compressor isolation, reducing undesired components such as argon in the reactor feed, and using lower temperatures for reactor outlet streams, are proposed to decrease the exergy losses. Throttling process in the syngas separator is the key contributing mechanism for the irreversibility (1,635 kJ/kg exergy losses) in the gas upgrading block. The exergy losses in the residual ammonia removal block (833 kJ/kg exergy losses) are mainly due to the stripper and the absorber column where a modified column design might be helpful. The highest exergy loss in the preheating block belongs to the compressors (518 kJ/kg exergy losses) where a lower inlet temperature and better system isolation could help to reduce losses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-70
Number of pages8
JournalEnergy Conversion and Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Ammonia
  • Process integration
  • Exergy analysis
  • Process technology
  • Sustainability
  • Energy efficiency

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