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Koch Nitrogen plant sees big investments

By Staff | Apr 10, 2012

The Koch Nitrogen Co. plant east of Fort Dodge has been the site of millions of dollars worth of improvements over the course of the last several years. Anhydrous ammonia and a nitrogen rich fertilizer called UAN Solution are made there.

By BILL SHEA

For Farm News

FORT?DODGE – Tons of nitrogen-rich fertilizer are produced every year by the people who work in the maze of tanks and pipes that is the Koch Nitrogen Co. Fort Dodge plant.

To make that work more effective, the company invested about $20 million in control systems upgrades at the plant last year. That was in addition to an estimated $40 million of other recently completed work, and more construction is anticipated there this year, according to Mark Schraeder, the plant manager.

”We’re really reinvesting in it to position ourselves for solid growth in the future as well as potential expansion,” Schraeder said Thursday morning.

He described the plant’s operation during a meeting of the Ag Committee of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance in AmericInn Lodge & Suites at the corner of Kenyon Road and U.S. Highway 169.

The plant, he said, is a ”very solid partner in the community” which has a large economic impact.

The facility is located on Webster County Road D20 between Fort Dodge and Duncombe. It opened in 1964; Koch bought it in 2003.

In 2006, a major enhancement project was launched that lasted through 2011, according to Schraeder. During the project, 500 workers from various contractors were on the site in additional to the plant’s 55 regular employees, he said.

Construction of a new administration building is tentatively scheduled to start this summer. Schraeder said it will cost about $8 million to $10 million. The current administration building will eventually be torn down.

From that building, Schraeder and his staff will oversee the process in which natural gas and air are combined to produce anhydrous ammonia. Most of that anhydrous ammonia is further refined to produce UAN Solution. That’s a fertilizer which is 32 percent nitrogen, and can be applied to corn while it’s growing.

The Fort Dodge plant can make 1,000 tons of anhydrous ammonia and 1,800 tons of UAN Solution every day.

Making those substances involves ”very high-temperature, high-pressure processes,” according to Schraeder.

”It’s a major industrial chemical process,” he said.

The ammonia and UAN Solution are sold to distributors of agricultural products. Schraeder said the company doesn’t sell directly to farmers.

The plant’s staff includes both people with bachelor’s degrees and two-year technical degrees. Schraeder said the company has a lot of success getting operations and maintenance people trained at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge.

Contact Bill Shea at (515) 573-2141 or bshea@messengernews.net

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