Sandvik and its strategic business partner Stamicarbon have initiated a new project to recycle high alloy steel by offering fertilizer customers a special buy-back solution when replacing equipment at their plants.
When customers in the urea fertilizer industry replace old equipment at their plants, Sandvik decommissions the old equipment and recycles materials from it. In this win-win model: equipment is replaced without intermediaries and Sandvik and Stamicarbon can buy back the special alloys.
“When piloting this idea, we wanted to find out whether we could extract valuable materials and demolish equipment on-site, in a way that would reward all stakeholders,” says Joey Dobrée, Product Portfolio Manager at Stamicarbon.
Sustainable way of doing business
The buy-back concept also aligns with the Sandvik ambition of reaching 90% in production system circularity. Knowing that the scrap consists entirely of Sandvik premium material will facilitate raw material handling in the steel mill. The partnership is also a perfect match as sustainability is as important for Stamicarbon as it is for Sandvik.
“Stamicarbon wants to support Sandvik in achieving this ambition and help to make the building and operation of urea plants more sustainable,” Dobrée says.
“We see this as a valuable addition to our full-lifecycle service, one that will certainly separate us from competitors. We will help our clients by taking the hassle out of the disposal of old equipment, and we can wrap this service into our proposals for replacement equipment, bringing benefits for all parties.”
Apart from this program, the Sandvik fertilizer team is also proactively reaching out to old customers with an offer to buy back material from urea plants that have been shut down.
“I believe that we are unique within the fertilizer segment in offering our customers this kind of buy-back program,” Oscar Johansson, Global Product Manager Fertilizer Tubing at Sandvik Material Technology. “I feel very confident in this way of working and how it builds on a sustainable way of doing business which benefits all involved parties.”
Future buy-back of Safurex® material
The project advanced late in 2019 when the first heat exchanger was bought back from a urea plant in the Netherlands. The outcome was very positive, and the buy-back solution will now be included on all new offerings to fertilizer customers when replacing equipment at their plants. Sandvik and Stamicarbon are also exploring standardization of the collection and recycling of high-quality metals for the future.
Coincidentally, the bought back heat exchanger was the very first test installation of Safurex tubes. Safurex is the name of the high-alloy duplex stainless steel made to withstand the corrosive environments present in the urea process.
“It was a bonus that the heat exchanger was built with those specific tubes,” Johansson says. “Not only could we try out our new buy-back program, but we were also given the opportunity to evaluate how well our Safurex material suits the application.”