Flag Image

The fertiliser manufacturing process

No. of experts
Experts icon
individual checks
Tick box iconTick box tick icon
years of knowledge
Knowledge icon
man hours
Clock face icon
Blue bag Image

That's what goes into every blue bag.

Scroll to see the process

Ammonia Plant


Natural gas (methane) and steam are reacted together to provide Hydrogen over a catalyst at high temperature. Air is introduced as the supply of Nitrogen.

  • Steam
  • Air
  • Methane
Reformers Image

Shift Reactor

Carbon Monoxide is converted into Carbon Dioxide for removal from the process

Reformers Image

"It takes approx. 10,000 hours across 5 years to be fully trained as an operator on our Ammonia plant."

Mike Walton, CF Technical Manager

CO2 Absorbers & CO2 Strippers

CO2 is absorbed into a solvent to leave clean Nitrogen and Hydrogen. The CO2 is then stripped from the solvent and sold as gas, liquid or dry ice

CO2 Absorbers & CO2 Strippers Image


Recycling of CO2 to aid greenhouse tomato growth

Biproduct graphic

Ammonia Converter & Refrigeration

The Hydrogen and Nitrogen are combined over catalyst beds under a pressure circa 160 bar and 450OC to form Ammonia

N2 + 3H2 2NH3
Ammonia Converter & Refrigeration image

"Every product we make is certified by the Carbon Trust and we have reduced the carbon footprint of our main product Nitram by over 40% in recent years."

Sam Bell, Commercial Director

CO2 plant

CO2 Plant image


Dry Ice for Cooling

Liquid CO2
– Fizzy drinks
– Cooling

Biproduct graphic

Ammonia Storage Tanks

The Ammonia is cooled to -33°C at atmospheric pressure and stored in large insulated tanks.

Ammonia Storage Tanks image


Anhydrous Ammonia and Ammonia Solution:

– Chemical industry raw material
– Plastics
– Dyes
– Pharmaceuticals
– Man-made fibres
– Heat treatment of metals
– Refrigerant
– NOx emission abatement
(Power Stations, Incinerators etc)

Biproduct graphic

Aqua Ammonia Plant

Anhydrous Ammonia is mixed with water to form Ammonia solution.

Aqua Ammonia Plant image


Partnerships with Environmental Agency (EA) and Industry Nature Conservation Association (INCA) to improve the local environment.

Environment graphic
Chemicals image

Chemicals to produce downstream products, such as wind turbine blades.

Partnerships image

Nitric Acid Plant


Liquid Ammonia is vaporised, reacting with Oxygen (O2) to form Nitrogen Oxides.

  • Air
  • Ammonia
Burner Image


The Nitrogen Oxides enter the bottom of the absorber and react with water that flows down from the top. Nitric Acid is produced.

  • Water
Absorber Image


Electricity to the grid

Biproduct graphic

"Over the last few years, we’ve invested £9 million in our manufacturing facilities to reduce our N2O emissions by 3,000 tonnes every year; equivalent to approximately one million tonnes of CO2. That’s the equivalent of 30% of the reduction required by UK agriculture by 2022."

Nick Cook, EHS Specialist

Acid Storage Tanks

Acid Storage Tanks Image


Nitric Acid:
– Polymers
– Man-made fibres
– Dyes
– Fungicides
– Catalysts
– Food processing
– Metal treatment

Biproduct graphic

Ammonium Nitrate Plant


Ammonia gas is reacted with Nitric Acid to form a weak Ammonium Nitrate solution.

NH3 + HNO3 NH4 NO3
Neutralisation Image


Ammonium Nitrate Solution:

– Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas)

Biproduct graphic


The Ammonium Nitrate solution concentration is increased to 98-99% in an evaporator

Concentration Image

"Nitram is made in the prill tower via a spinning bucket containing around 6000 tiny holes to make each of the 26 billion prills produced each day perfectly!"

David Little, Manufacturing Director


Concentrated Ammonium Nitrate is pumped to the top of the prill tower, where it is sprayed through fine holes to form droplets that solidify as they fall through a stream of air.

Prilling Image

Cooling & Screening

The solid prills are cooled and then screened to remove oversized and undersized material.

Cooling & Screening Image

At this stage, the Nitram fertiliser is complete and goes to the final stage for packaging and distribution

Scroll to continue the Compound process

Click to skip to Fertiliser Packing and Despatch

NPK Plant


Phosphorous Acid

  • Phosphoric Acid
  • Ammonia
Reactor Image

Raw Material Milling

Solid raw materials are milled to a fine powder to aid quality granulation

  • Ammonium Sulphate
  • Calcium Sulphate
  • Potash
  • Limestone
Raw Milling Material Image


The milled raw materials are mixed with liquid Ammonium Nitrate at around 175°C to form granules of compound fertiliser.

Granulation Image


The fertiliser granules pass through large rotary dryers with hot air to remove moisture and leave hard and dry granules.

Drying Image

"Our compound fertilisers have been made at Ince since 1969, with knowledge and exacting craftsmanship that has been handed down to our highly trained operatives through the decades."

Riaan De Beer, Site Section Manager- NPKS Compounds

Screening & Cooling

The material from the dryer is screened to remove oversized and undersized granules and then cooled.

Screening & Cooling Image
Screening & Cooling Image


Coating oil and talc are used as anti-caking agents

  • Coating Oil & Talc
Coating Image

Fertiliser Packaging and Despatch

Bulk Product & Despatch

A small amount is sold in bulk to other customers.

Bulk Product and Despatch Image

"We package our products in the highest specification blue bag available with a Union Jack symbol to show it's Made in Britain for British Farmers. Remember, blue bags grow better crops"

Mark Roberts, Packaging and Handling
Packing Image


The fertiliser is packaged into bags, loaded onto lorries and delivered out to British farmer customers.

Packing image
Packing image

Around 40% of all food protein is derived from manufactured nitrogen fertiliser and with CF being such a large supplier, we play a mayor role in this.

In fact, with Great Britain as a whole, CF Fertilisers contribute to the production of:

Milk icon
Pints of milk
Bread icon
Loaves of bread
Beer icon
Pints of beer
Beef icon
Tonnes of beef
Ice cream icon
Tonnes of cream
Cheese icon
Tonnes of cheese
Lamb icon
Tonnes of lamb