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Wikipedia has an article of the same title
I was the original creator of the Wikipedia article and its main contributor. For creation here, I reworded and reformatted the article quite a bit. I also added a new section and an image to it. - Milton Beychok 18:06, 25 February 2008 (CST)
Comment on the introduction
Milton, my take on the introduction was that it jumps right in to the fact of industrial ammonia production without indicating why we doit, to wit:
"There are literally dozens of large-scale ammonia production plants worldwide, some of which produce as much as 2,000 to 3,000 tons per day of liquid ammonia."
If I may suggest an alternative introductory paragraph that loses nothing from your original:
Because of its critical use predominantly as a base for supplying usable nitrogen for agricultural productivity, ammonia is one of the most abundant of inorganic chemicals manufactured by industrial chemists. Worldwide ammonia production in 2004 was 109,000,000 metric tons. There are literally dozens of large-scale ammonia production plants throughout the industrial world, some of which produce as much as 2,000 to 3,000 tons per day of ammonia in liquid form. China produced 28.4% of the worldwide production followed by India with 8.6%, Russia with 8.4%, and the United States with 8.2%. Without such massive production, our agriculturally-dependent civilization would face serious challenges.
- United States Geological Survey publication
- Note: Milton, I will try to comment on the remainder of the article anon, but at first read it seems excellent. Anthony.Sebastian
--Anthony.Sebastian 17:07, 23 July 2008 (CDT)
- Thanks for your suggestions, Anthony. I have revised the introduction to incorporate your suggestions, but still retain the article title in the first sentence. I also updated the worldwide production figures using the latest data for 2006 (rather than the previous data for 2004). I will await any further suggestions you may make when you have the time. - Milton Beychok 18:36, 23 July 2008 (CDT)
The suggestion of new section
Anthony Sebastian, I respectfully disagree with adding a section to this article on why we need ammonia (presumably for fertilizer). I think that opens up a "can of worms" which will go far beyond the bounds of an engineering article on the technology of how ammonia is manufactured. Here are some of the many facets I can think of just off the top of my head, and there are probably others as well:
- The growth in ammonia production is driven by global population growth as well as a growth in the middle class.
- Currently, there is a global food crisis in parts of the world (Africa for one).
- Proponents of ethyl alcohol and biodiesel as automotive fuel want more corn and biomass crops devoted to that purpose ... that would result in more fertilizer use but less food crops.
- Proponents of "organic" foods think that fertilizers are "bad".
- There are people who probably think that birth control is the answer to the food crisis. (China is the largest producer of ammonia by far ... but yet they have mandated one child per family).
That is an interesting confluence of confrontational motives that might make an interesting article of its own ... but it is certainly not within the bounds of an engineering article intended simply to explain the technology of how ammonia is manufactured. As an engineer myself, I really don't have the expertise (nor frankly, the desire) to get involved that can of worms. - Milton Beychok 21:04, 23 July 2008 (CDT)
About ready, but one point
While I recognize this is about the synthesis and production, it does cover uses. Should there not be a little bit on anhydrous ammonia as a fertilizer?
- I'm confused. The very first sentence in the first paragraph stresses how important is the use of ammonia as a fertilizer. In fact, so does the remainder of the first paragraph. Specifially, what further discussion would you like to see?
- I can probably provide it, although I have never been a farmer. You mention ammonium hydroxide, but, on doing some reading, apparently pure ammonia is applied to fields. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:48, 22 September 2008 (CDT)
- Howard, the entire article is about liquid anhydrous ammonia! I see now that I assumed (incorrectly) that everyone understood that industrial ammonia is produced as liquid anhydrous ammonia. I have added some words into the lead-in paragraph to make that clear. The article does not include the words "ammonium hydroxide" anywhere. In fact, the word "hydroxide" occurs only once in the history section as part of the discussion of how ammonia was produced many year ago. Some of the industrially produced liquid anyhdrous ammonia is indeed subsequently dissolved in water to produce "aqueous ammonia" (aka ammoniaum hydroxide) ... but the industrial production process described in this article produces anhydrous ammonia in liquid form as the end product. Milton Beychok 19:34, 22 September 2008 (CDT)
Also, there are quite a few regulatory concerns for both transport and storage, including U.S. DHS regulations. Obviously, one is terrorist release, another is diversion to drug manufacturing. I think these are worth mentioning, not extensively, but as a qualifier on plants, shipping, and end user storage, all of which are related to production, as opposed to the valid points you made about the need for ammonia being outside the scope of this article. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:58, 22 September 2008 (CDT)
- I regret that I don't have the the knowledge needed to discuss the U.S. DHS regulations concerning ammonia. If you do have that expertise, please write a brief few paragraphs and present them here on the Talk page (so as to preserve your ability to nominate the article for Approval). Then I can review your input and we can discuss any edits I may think are needed. After such discussion and agreement, I will add your input into the article. Thanks again for all your help with other articles as well as this one. Milton Beychok 17:34, 22 September 2008 (CDT)
- OK--I will get something together. Clearly, these are not core issues, although the DHS security requirements are affecting production. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:48, 22 September 2008 (CDT)
There are several safety-related concerns with anhydrous ammonia, or aqueous solution. It is a respiratory irritant that, if released, is a hazard to life. Release could take place through simple industrial or transportation accident, by a deliberate release caused by terrorists, or by diversion and improper handling by those using it as an intermediate in the illegal synthesis of methamphetamines.
A farm "nurse tank" for dispensing ammonia as fertilizer contains approximately 2,500 pounds, so any farm with four or more nurse tanks probably needs to assess its safety. It should be noted that "storage" includes industrial refrigeration systems that contain the "trigger quantity" of 10,000 pounds or more of ammonia.
In transport, ammonia containers must have proper hazardous material placards, and, if the trigger quantity is exceeded, may need additional safeguards, such as reporting the shipment to industry monitoring services such as CHEMTREC  or additional local agencies. There may be restrictions on transporting hazardous materials through tunnels, or possibly streets in high-density areas.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, citing its major concern as toxic release, lists anhydrous ammonia, or mixtures containing at least 1 percent ammonia, when stored in quantites of 10,000 pounds or more, as a chemical of interest,  which falls under the Risk for Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) regulations and guidance.  Organizations that store or transport more than the threshold quantity of 10,000 pounds, or believe they are at a higher than normal risk, should use the Chemical Security Assessment Tool 
- Howard, thanks for the above writeup about safety concerns. I have edited it a bit and added it into the main article. Thanks again, Milton Beychok 16:11, 23 September 2008 (CDT)
Hi all, I have (finally) arrived on this page to perform the approval and noticed that there was a major content edit made after Howard's dated approved version. It includes this edit. I need an okay from Howard before I can perform the approval. D. Matt Innis 10:38, 30 September 2008 (CDT)
- That change is fine with me; it is material I suggested on which the approval was contingent. Howard C. Berkowitz 10:56, 30 September 2008 (CDT)
Approval Version 1.0
- There you go! That does it, though apparently the time stamp is different depending on your time zone so I guess I need to find out how to tell if the last edit was after the "now" feature in the metadata page. Good work, guys. D. Matt Innis 19:46, 30 September 2008 (CDT)
Biological ammonia production
Milton, great article on industrial ammonia production. You probably know that humans (and other mammals) have metabolic mechanisms for generating ammonia and for excreting it in urine, largely as ammonium ion. A major subject of study, especially by renal physiologists. If I didn't have so many articles in the pipeline, or if I had more collaborators for them, I'd start a Ammonia production (biology) article, inspired by your article. I believe other natural sources of big-time ammonia production also exist. Anthony.Sebastian 17:15, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
- CHEMTREC: the 24-hour HAZMAT Communications Center
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security (November 20, 2007), 6 CFR Part 27 Appendix to Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards; Final Rule
- DHS Finalizes List of Chemicals Subject to Anti-terrorism Regs
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Chemical Security Assessment Tool
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (March 2000), Chemical Safety Alert: Anhydrous Ammonia Theft