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Comment Processing & Handling

First commercial process for K2SO4 from polyhalite completes pilot

By Scott Jenkins |

Pilot plant operation has been completed for a process that produces the fertilizer potassium sulfate from the mineral polyhalite, a hydrated sulfate of potassium, magnesium and calcium. The process, developed by Intercontinental Potash Corp. (ICP; Golden, Colo.; www.icpotash.com), resurrects a route to K2SO4 that was first explored in a push to develop a domestic source of potash after a German embargo in World War I. “Although it was evaluated decades ago, but not pursued, our process represents the first commercially viable potassium sulfate process using mined polyhalite as a feedstock,” says Randy Foote, chief operating officer at ICP. “After validating the decades-old data, ICP developed a patented hybrid crystallization system designed to maximize production of K2SO4,” explains ICP process engineer Mike Morrison. The ICP process avoids the cost fluctuations of conventional potassium sulfate production, where feedstocks potassium chloride and sulfuric acid must be purchased. ICP’s polyhalite route is less expensive than using mined sylvite, a naturally occurring mineral composed of KCl, Foote says. The process (flowsheet) begins with a crushing and washing stage to remove sodium chloride, then enters…
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