The synthesis of ammonia uses a form of magnetite, iron oxide, as the catalyst of a reaction held at 15-25 Mpa and between 300-550 Celsius degrees, passing the gaseous nitrogen and hydrogen over multiple beds of catalyst, with cooling after each pass with a conversion rate up to 15% and a recycling mechanism to achieve up to 98% conversion.
The major source of hydrogen is methane from natural gas, however, sometimes coal may be used as a source through a process called coal gasification. Initially, methane is cleaned primarily to remove sulphur impurities that would poison the catalyst, then clean methane reacts with steam in the primary reforming stage and with air in the secondary reforming stage, over a catalyst of nickel oxide.
The water-gas shift reaction yields more hydrogen from carbon monoxide and steam, then the gas mixture goes through a
methanator, which converts the remaining carbon monoxide into methane for recycling purposes.
The production of ammonia is based on proprietary technology by a number of licensors (Haldor Topsoe, KBR, Ammonia Casale) for which IMB is an approved vendor.