Taking the Sting Out of Anhydrous Ammonia Handling

By OPW | Oct 21, 2019

When it comes to versatility, the compressed liquefied gas known as anhydrous ammonia (NH3) is a superstar in the world of industrial manufacturing. Its more popular uses are in:

  • Fertilizers: About 80% of the NH3 that is used every year goes into the production of agricultural fertilizers. It is an indispensible component in most fertilizers because of its 82% nitrogen content.
  • Power Plants: Plants powered by coal or natural gas generate nitrogen oxide (NOx), which can be harmful if released into the atmosphere. NH3 can be used to convert NOx into harmless nitrogen and water.
  • Refrigeration: Because NH3 has a low boiling point and a great capacity for heat absorption, it can be used in refrigeration systems to keep food cold.
  • Water Treatment: Municipal and commercial water-treatment plants will use NH3 to clean or purify wastewater.
  • Metalworking: NH3 can be used in polishes to keep metals shiny, or to treat and harden them.

So, while NH3 can be, at least, a five-tool player, it requires great care in handling as a Toxic Inhalation Hazard (TIH) chemical. This means that exposure to NH3 can be harmful in a number of ways. Mild skin exposure can result in swelling and pain, with prolonged exposure leading to inflammation, blistering, tissue death and penetrating burns. Prolonged eye exposure can lead to inflammation of the eye’s membranes and even temporary or permanent blindness. High levels of ingestion can result in corrosive damage to the mouth, throat and stomach. Inhalation of NH3 can cause breathing problems, wheezing and chest pain.

With the majority of industrial-use NH3 transported via pressurized railcar, it is imperative that the railroads and their employees take serious precautions when loading, unloading and transporting it. Recognizing the importance of preventing the release of NH3, Midland Manufacturing, Inc., has developed an Anhydrous Ammonia Fittings Package that can help guarantee its safe handling, transport and delivery. The equipment in this fittings package includes:

  • A-14378-ML Pressure Relief Valve (PRV): Soft-seated valves ensure a positive and consistent seal, while the rupture disc and PRV are independently mounted, allowing the PRV to be removed for service without releasing any commodity to the atmosphere
  • A-180 Check Valve: Soft/guided-seat design with constant force on the plug creates a positive seal every time. All components can be removed through the top of the pressure plate, reducing time needed for valve maintenance.
  • B-612 Magnetic Gaging Device: Provides accurate liquid-level monitoring for complete loading of railcars with reduced fill time. Small mounting flange makes it easier to position other equipment on the manway plate.
  • A-713 1” Angle Valve: Corrosion-resistant construction provides maximum protection. Triple seals reduce number of potential leak paths. Soft-seated design provides bubble-tight shutoff.
  • Needle Valves: Allow product sampling without opening a larger transfer valve. Must be installed with a check valve to prevent product loss if sample-valve nipple is sheared off.
  • Thermowells: Flanged or threaded thermowells provide non-contact access to the product for temperature measurement with a thermometer or thermocouple probe

Because no railcar fleet dedicated to hauling NH3 is the same, Midland works with each operator individually to build the best anhydrous ammonia-handling package. The result is a solution that delivers the best in railcar uptime, bottom-line optimization, safety and peace of mind for the railroad operator, rail personnel, end user, the environment and the population in general.

For more information on Midland Manufacturing, Inc., and its complete portfolio of tank railcar products, please visit midlandmfg.com.