ABB said it has joined hands with Arab Potash Company (APC), one of the world’s major suppliers of potash, a vital plant and crop nutrient used in agricultural fertilizer to develop key production facilities in Jordan.
A leader in power and automation technologies, ABB said the upgrades are based on its flagship automation platform, Extended Automation System 800xA, and are part of a comprehensive modernization and expansion project at APC’s extensive potash processing and warehousing facilities in Jordan.
APC’s vast salt ponds extend over 112 sq km at the southern end of the Dead Sea, and its potash refinery at Safi on the banks of this hypersaline mineral-rich lake is capable of producing 2,500,000 tons.
Processing potash from saltwater is a long and complex process that takes around 12 months to complete, the company said in a statement.
The highly saline water in the APC salt ponds is slowly evaporated by the heat of the sun to produce a mineral-rich slurry called carnallite, which is then processed into potash at the Safi refinery.
APC recently completed a large modernization and expansion project at Safi to enhance the efficiency of the refining process and boost capacity by 25 per cent from 2 million tons to 2.5 million tons a year. The existing hot leach and cold crystallization plants were upgraded and a second cold crystallization plant was built.
‘The three plants are the heart of the refinery. There, the carnallite is dewatered, crystallized, leached, dried, and screened into three grades of potash.’
‘Each stage of the refining process at the new plant is controlled and optimized by a state-of-the-art System 800xA distributed control system that monitors and manages process information from 3,500 input/output channels,’ it added.
The project at Safi follows the recent modernization and expansion of APC’s warehousing facilities at Aqaba by the Red Sea, where the potash is stored, ready for loading onto bulk carriers for shipment to markets all over the world.
ABB provided an electrical, control and instrumentation package to help boost capacity at Aqaba and make the storage and loading process faster and more efficient.
The long conveyor system, three stackers and two reclaimers are now controlled by a System 800xA distributed control system that helps deliver a loaded product of consistent quality.
As a result of the two System 800xA automation systems at Safi and Aqaba and the modernization of facilities APC will have a leading-edge process automation system that integrates all automation functions at the sites into a single engineering and operations environment that enables all facilities to operate more efficiently and with considerable cost savings, the ABB statement added.