In a world with a growing emerging class of more affluent consumers, the demand for high-value foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and coffee is soaring. Thanks to greenhouses and precision irrigation, these plants are grown in arid areas with otherwise inhospitable soils and climates. But because some of these specialty crops are sensitive to chloride, traditional potassium fertilizers cannot be applied. In Turkey, the solution comes at a high cost. That means importing a multi-nutrient fertilizer that is chloride-free and water-soluble: potassium sulfate or sulfate of potash (SOP).
To make this product more affordable and locally available, Istanbul, Turkey-based Alkim Alkali Kimya A.S. (Alkim), one of the largest sodium sulfate producers in the world, decided to invest in its Koralkim facility near Dazkırı on the coast of lake Acıgöl to produce up to 50,000 tons per year of soluble-grade SOP.
The best way to the purest crystals
Because SOP is not a naturally occurring mineral, Alkim awarded Veolia a contract to supply HPD crystallization technology to produce SOP in crystalline, fully-soluble form. The chemical reaction between purified potassium chloride and brine saturated with sulfate salts takes place inside draft tube baffle crystallizers that allow for the reaction time under controlled temperature to promote the growth of highly-pure SOP crystals.
Veolia’s solution, which also includes multiple-effect crystallizers to produce almost 35,000 tons per year of food-grade sodium chloride as a by-product, optimizes capital investment by using Alkim’s existing cogeneration units. Operating expenses are controlled by maximizing water and steam economies through the recovery of clean condensate and residual heat used for dissolving and heating the incoming solution of potassium chloride.
Alkim has relied on Veolia two times before to deliver the initial crystallization system and a subsequent expansion at the facility in Çayırhan near Anakaraand to produce pure sodium sulfate from solution-mined Glauberite extracted from underground natural deposits. The success of those installations, along with that of the laboratory bench testing performed to de-risk the project and validate the design and performance projections, gave Alkim the confidence to select Veolia once again.
“Shis is a continuation of working together with Veolia on several projects for many years,” said Reha Kora, Alkim CEO. “We have the total confidence that this SOP project will be realized with great success.”
“We are pleased to support Alkim in the production of high-quality potash fertilizers to meet the demand in Turkey and beyond. HPD crystallization technologies exemplify the value that Veolia brings to the fertilizer industry in extracting soluble crop nutrients with the most efficient energy and water use,” said Jim Brown, CEO of Veolia Water Technologies Americas.
Through its long history with HPD evaporation and crystallization technologies applied in industrial chemical processes, Veolia helps fertilizer and other inorganic salt producers to optimize their industrial operations and the value of its products with a focus on enhancing environmental sustainability as well as energy and resource efficiencies.