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Yara with proactive pilot scheme at Herøya – investing 100 million

Proactive piloting is essential when it comes to capturing market shares, reckons fertiliser manufacturer Yara. They currently have six or seven pilot projects in the pipeline at Herøya. 

– Testing at the pilot plants reduces risk, says Sten Bjørneboe, Yara

“Testing at the pilot plants reduces risk when implementing new elements at existing plants,” says Sten Bjørneboe, the man responsible for the mini plant which was completed in March. (Photo: Tom Riis)

“Without pilot projects, we would never have made as much progress as we have. Commissioning new processes or new equipment without thorough testing can have major adverse consequences and cause development to stagnate. You have to think consider things carefully before you test something new at a major plant,” emphasises Odd-Arne Lorentsen, head of one of the three Yara research centres. 

“We are looking to the future and attempting to remain at the cutting edge of market demand,” he says.

80 people from 19 countries

At Herøya, Yara now has around 80 researchers of 19 different nationalities and has recruited half of these over the last three years. Lorentsen is responsible for the development of the sales concept of necessary catalysts for fertiliser production for Yara, as well as some gas cleaning.

This work has led to a reduction in emissions of CO2 equivalents of up to 90 per cent at all Yara fertiliser factories all over the world. 

There is a lot of emphasis on the environment at present as regards emissions from the company’s own plants, but not least with a view to facing up to the climate challenges represented by agriculture.

Environmental leaders

In March this year, Yara announced that it had invested NOK 1 billion in becoming a leader in the fields of environmental technology and air cleaning. "The profound competence on nitrogen chemistry is being utilized for more than fertilizer production."

“Being part of a company that understands the value of bringing research out of the laboratory and via pilot schemes to full-scale implementation is a massive motivating factor. The pilot plants work like little factories, all testing optimises and secures process changes before we implement them at our plants,” explains Odd-Arne Lorentsen. 

Bilde av Odd-Arne Lorentsen.

“Our research focuses on achieving the best possible conditions for growth subject to various environmental influences,” explains Odd-Arne Lorentsen, head of one of the three Yara research centres. (Photo: Tom Riis)

Invaluable skills

Yara currently has six or seven pilot projects ongoing at Herøya. One of these was completed last March. Sten Bjørneboe is an operations manager for the mini production plant, which has cost about ten million Norwegian kroner. Bjørneboe runs the plant several times a week, testing the fertiliser process subject to various parameters initiated by the laboratory.

“Staff like Sten are invaluable to the pilot scheme. He has experience from Hydro and REC as well as Yara, and he knows what happens in production out on the factory floor. This is important when it comes to turning the pilot into large-scale production,” emphasises Lorentsen.

He adds that Yara’s market potential largely governs the selection of projects. ”The skills we have available to us here at Herøya place us in a good position from which to carry out further development for the future,” concludes Odd-Arne Lorentsen.

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