Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Thursday, July 14, 2016

CF Industries

CF Industries Ammonia Plant, Port Neal, Iowa
The long white bar is a 1700 foot long warehouse for storing urea.
When we were in Sioux City Iowa last week, there was a story in the news about how a $2 billion dollar expansion of the local ammonia plant was nearing completion. $2 billion is a sizable chunk on change, you can almost build a new integrated circuit fabrication facility for that kind of money. Intel's Ronler Acres plant is just down the road from where I live and it's huge. It's huge and it's full of high-tech, whiz bang equipment, so I can understand why it cost so much money. But $2 billion for a fertilizer plant, well, that just boggles my mind. Not a lot of high technology going on here. It's just basic chemistry on an enormous scale. It might be that building big things out of steel, big things that will be operated at high temperatures and pressures is more expensive than electro-mechanical stuff that isn't subject to those extremes.
     Looking for information about this plant I found this story about a minor disaster:
The Port Neal fertilizer plant explosion occurred on December 13, 1994 in the ammonium nitrate plant at the Terra International, Inc., Port Neal Complex, 16 miles south of Sioux City, Iowa, United States.[1] Four workers at the plant were killed by the explosion, and eighteen others were injured.[3] The seven-story building at the seat of the blast was completely destroyed, leaving only a crater, and significant damage was inflicted to the surrounding structures.[4] Four nearby electricity generating stations were disabled by the explosion, and the effects of the blast were felt up to 30 miles away.[5] A high-voltage line running adjacent to the plant and over the Missouri River was damaged, disrupting power in the neighboring state of Nebraska.[6] Two 15,000-ton refrigeratedammonia storage tanks were ruptured, releasing liquid ammonia and ammonia vapors which forced the evacuation of 1,700 residents from the surrounding area.[7] - Wikipedia
Curious thing is that another outfit is building another nitrogen fertilizer plant on the other side of the state, down near Fort Madison Iowa.

Iowa Fertilizer Plant, Wever Iowa
With two big fertilizer plants nearing completion, I guess Iowa is expecting a continued high demand for fertilizer. I guess that's sort of obvious, isn't it?

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