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Manufacturing process

NITRICOMAX - Product - Manufacturing process

NITRICOMAX's concentrated nitric acid plant was the first in the world to use the SABAR (Strong Acid By Azeotropic Rectification) manufacturing method. It was launched in the first quarter of 1973.

Nitric acid manufacture takes place using the Ostwald process, based on the oxidation of ammonia in the presence of a fixed catalyst. Ammonia gas is mixed with atmospheric air and oxidised over a catalyst in the reactor forming NO, this is in turn oxidised to NO2 with excess oxygen fed into the reactor. The subsequent addition of water turns it into nitric acid.

Process integration ensures energy efficiency:
  • The hot gases exiting the reaction pass through a steam generator. This steam is used in the azeotropic distillation of the concentrated nitric acid.
  • The cooling generated by the evaporation of the ammonia fed into the reactor is used integrally in the uptake phase to maximise absorption performance during nitric acid production.
  • NO2 obtained from the reaction is compressed in a centrifugal compressor in the absorption area, where, in the presence of water (H2O), nitric acid is formed at a concentration higher than the azeotropic point of the water-nitric acid binary mixture. Once the azeotropic point concentration is exceeded, this acid is fed to the distillation column to give concentrated nitric acid (> = 98.5%), returning weak acid to be beginning of the process to subsequently increase its concentration.
  •  Once the waste gases have been depleted of nitrogen oxides in the absorption phase they are passed across a catalytic reactor for purification by reduction of the NOx, before being discharged from the plant's chimney.


Last update 2019.05.22
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