Escombreras is one of the three demo-sites within the CORALIS project, where CIRCE is the facilitating entity, Fertiberia Group is the demosite leader and the installation site is Quimica del Estroncio (QSr) located in Cartagena, Spain. Two more partners, INCRO and Azcatec, are in charge of the engineering processes. 

What is expected? 

Currently, fertilizers such as Potassium Nitrate and Strontium derivates are produced in parallel processes in the same facility in QSr. The demonstration action aims to pivot around a novel Potassium Nitrate process which solves the problems of high-water consumption, low product and by-product concentrations and high energy consumption. Local supply of raw materials from neighbors (such as H2SO4 and CO2) is expected increase due to the new process, while at the same time wastewater problem is expected to be reduced. 

What are the challenges? 

The project started in 2019 at very good pace, but due to Covid-19 pandemic the project experienced several challenges. Most of the work had to be conducted online, so the pilot plant installation (HCl concentration and its reuse), which depends on fieldwork engineering processes, suffered important delays. Other major delays have been caused by the current energy crisis as well, which has triggered sharp increases in the price of raw materials, construction materials, equipment, instrumentation, lack of microchips, etc. Among these challenges, another issue has arisen during testing and calculations, which was the N-content in the HCl which has to be reduced in order to be used in the Strontium derivates process.  

Next steps 

Two pilots plants have been installed, one working with a novel catalyst and the other with a new biological treatment. Both are currently giving hopeful results, which is expected to allow the project to advance at a better pace this year. The new plant engineering preparation is already finished, so the next steps will be the acquisition of materials for the construction of the demo plant and the finalization of the engineering processes of the pilot plant to start its construction with the chosen N removal technology. 

For more information on the work CORALIS is doing in the Escrombreras Valley, click here.