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Fluid Journal : Fluid Journal 2008-2009
height, a continuous stream of tankers operating over 24 hours was essential. Moving on site To better meet our demand at the season's height, the obvious alternative we soon realized was to manufacture fluid fertilizers on site. Ultimately, this took in five locations. Takeley. At Takeley, in Essex, preliminary experiments were undertaken to produce a urea- ammonium nitrate (UAN) solution. This proved to be an effective way of coping with sudden surges in demand but, unfortunately, also necessitated having to persuade personnel from other departments to work overtime on tasks that were beyond their experience and expectations. A more expansive approach would be required not only for the production of UAN but the many other grades containing phosphate and potash. Hutton Cranswick. In 1964, Chafer located a depot at Hutton Cranswick in Yorkshire. Furthermore, in conjunction with Hutton Cranswick's bulk urea handling system, the production of UAN in equipment already developed on that site became very straightforward. Southern England. It was soon obvious that the production facilities at Takeley and Hutton Cranswick, while effective, had limited capacities inadequate to cope with the rapidly expanding market. Furthermore, in Southern England--Hampshire, in particular-- where the potential demand was considerable, there were no accessible fluid fertilizer plants. In fact it had been necessary, for a year or so, to rely on rail transport to supply our Micheldever Depot. Parking several tankers in a convenient siding had provided some welcome temporary storage but this was unlikely to continue over a longer term. The proximity of the south coast offered the prospect of importing cheaper raw materials from abroad so it was important to provide adequate storage in order to be able to accommodate quite large consignments of urea and potassium chloride. We also learned from our estimates that deliveries of fluid fertilizer could amount to several hundred tons per day, thus it would require us to either build a high output plant or invest in more product storage facilities. Of these options, building a high output plant capable of 1,000 tons per day was considered preferable but in conjunction with sufficient product storage capacity to accommodate up to three days output. East Anglia. Although some of the most intensive farming was taking place in this part of the United Kingdom, no existing fluid fertilizer production capacity had been established in the heart of this region. Chafer had sales and service depots in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, and Bedfordshire but none of these sites was suitable or convenient for large-scale fluid fertilizer manufacture. In 1967, we finally settled on a site at Chedburgh. While we had adequate supplies of ammonium nitrate in the north and west of England, transport of it into East Anglia was not practical. Fortunately we were able to acquire a nitric acid plant and an ammonium nitrate neutralizer, which were promptly dismantled and reerected in Chedburgh. Daily output of ammonium nitrate was converted to a 32-0-0 UAN solution by adding urea in a simple batch process. Buildings similar to those in use at Micheldever for storage of solid urea and potassium chloride were erected in the middle of the Chedburgh site to provide all-around vehicular access. Operating with more concentrated phosphoric acids, including superphosphoric acid, made it possible to produce a 10-34- 0 grade rich in polyphosphates. Upton. A third major plant was established in 1976 at Upton by Gainsborough in Lincolnshire. Experience gained over the previous decade was taken into account when designing the production facilities. Because ammonium nitrate could be delivered by tanker, all operations followed the Micheldever blueprint. The Upton site was also used as a test bed for assessing the viability of simple external mixing used to meet demand for UAN in areas remote from our major plants. It was incumbent on the operator to keep a running tally of the urea and ammonium nitrate deliveries to ensure that the ratio of the nitrogenous components remained within acceptable limits. Mission accomplished By the 1980s, volume of fluid fertilizers manufactured and sold by J. W. Chafer Ltd. had grown enough to capture 20 percent of the main British fertilizer market. In the most intensive arable farming areas, our share often exceeded 40 percent! The Chafer team takes great pride in its accomplishments and contributions to the fluid fertilizer industry. Derek Palgrave was chief chemist and technical director of J.W. Chafer Ltd. in Yorkshire, England, during the period covered by this review. He is now involved in a program of public lecturing on a wide range of topics, including science and technology.
Fluid Journal 2005-2007