In The Air - Business Media MAGS

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In The Air

Industrial gas is used in most manufacturing industries and reliability of locally produced supply is important, reports Gareth Griffiths.

Air Products is part of an established international company specialising in the provision of a range of industrial and speciality gas products to multiple users.

“Air Products manufactures and supplies many gases such as argon, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, welding mixtures and high-purity speciality gases”, says Arthi Govender, marketing and communications executive for Air Products.

Major industrial gas products are used industrywide, making its local production a critical component of manufacturing.

From a gas manufacture and supply perspective, some of Air Products’ innovations to mining and heavy industry have proved beneficial. For example, the 120km gas pipeline that was installed to supply hydrogen gas to Impala Platinum and PG Building Glass.

Later, installations in the petrochemical industry included a new air separation unit to supply oxygen at Sasol Infrachem. Recently, the company responded to an increased need in the supply of carbon dioxide (CO2)by investing R100-million in a significant CO2 expansion and refurbishment project at its Newcastle facility in KwaZulu-Natal and an upgrade to the CO2 supply at the National Petroleum Refiners of South Africa facility in Sasolburg.

In step with global environmental trends, a dissolved acetylene plant in Midvaal was launched as a world-class environmentally sensitive and safe facility in 2018.

“Air Products is also a market leader in terms of on-site, bulk, pipeline, cylinder and speciality gas products. We are a frontrunner in terms of customer service, product quality and our gas range for industrial applications,” explains Govender.

The company manufactures the majority of its products locally. “Our national footprint and well-established supply chain and distributor network further allow the efficient distribution of products to customers nationally,” she says.

Handle with care

Greg Rusznyak, marketing manager at WIKA South Africa, confirms that a fair amount of the instrumentation for industrial gas handling is manufactured locally.

“Only electronic pressure measuring instruments are imported since these require high-level clean rooms for manufacture,” he says.

Rusznyak says that sulphur hexafluoride (SF) is a good example of a highly specialised gas that needs careful monitoring. “South Africa has a robust industrial gas market in general, but for SF6 specifically, the market is small compared to the global market. But it is no less important, because for high-voltage switchgear there is no real replacement for SF6 as an arc-quenching gas,” he explains.

“SF6 needs special handling. It is a greenhouse gas with about 23 000 times more impact than carbon dioxide. It’s listed in the Kyoto Protocol and usage is governed by EU regulation 517/2014 in Europe and other regional equivalents. Great care is taken in the operation of SF6-insulated switchgear and the procurement, transport, commissioning, and recovery of the gas.”

WIKA also offers the training and certification of technicians who will work with this gas and others.

“This is the reason for the importance of SF6 gas density monitoring in switchgear in the first place. But other equipment for filling, recovery, leak detection, and gas quality measurement is also vital,” he concludes.

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