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Atmospheric air is 21% O2, 78% N2 and the remaining 1% is mostly argon and CO2. Air is a chief constituent in combustion. In the combustion process, the oxygen in air is broken down to make carbon dioxide, water, and energy. Nitrogen is not an essential part of the process. In fact, nitrogen in air has negative impacts on combustion processes.
Nitrogen gets heated by the reaction to extremely high combustion temperatures and is carried out through the flue. Essentially, the heated nitrogen leaving the flue is like throwing fuel out of the stack. Also, during the combustion process nitrogen in the air and fuel will break down to form harmful NOx gasses.
Industrial Oxygen is typically a type of oxygen used in industrial settings, like manufacturing plants, for tasks that may include combustion, oxidation and even to help accelerate certain chemical reactions. Industrial oxygen is not intended to be inhaled like medical oxygen is, but rather serves a complementary role to create the actions that are carried out in these facilities. Steelmaking, for instance, is one of the largest users of industrial oxygen.
The demand for oxygen for industrial processes which has been steadily growing since the liquefaction method of air separation was introduced fifty years ago has, until recently, been met by extension of the “classical process” and especially by the production of liquid oxygen on a large scale.
The use of liquid oxygen is particularly convenient when the demand is highly irregular and intermittent, as, for instance, in steel-works practice, but there is an increasing demand for oxygen in chemical and metallurgical processes which operate continuously and steadily, and which require oxygen of only moderate purity.
Industrial Oxygen has been important in the recent days considering the pandemic to control and withstand the medical oxygen demand being increased from 15% of the total available production in the country to nearly 100% of the production capability of the country.
Industrial oxygen usually has a varying demand within the Indian Industrial Oxygen market depending upon the market sector of industries being supplied to in the country. This has made industrial oxygen a mandatory requirement within the country that propels the manufacturing of various products.
Liquid oxygen must be handled with all the precautions required for safety with any cryogenic fluid. Gaseous Oxygen is authorized for shipment in cylinders, tank, and car and tube trailers. Liquid Oxygen is shipped as a cryogenic fluid in insulated cylinders, insulated tank trucks and insulated tank cars.
Industrial oxygen usage has been dynamic in nature within India, wherein it is now also used in the production of synthesis gas from coal, natural gas or liquid fuel. Synthesis gas is in turn use to make gasoline, methanol, and ammonia. Oxygen is similarly employed in manufacturing some acetylene through partial oxidation of the hydrocarbons in methane. It is also used in the production of nitric acid, ethylene, and other compounds in the chemical industry.
Industrial applications include its very wide utilization with acetylene, hydrogen and other fuel gases for such purposes as metal cutting, welding, hardening, scaring, cleaning and dehydrating. Oxygen helps increase the capacity of steel and iron furnaces on a growing scale in the steel industry.
In India, there are presently over 300 small & medium size plants and approximately 25 large tonnage plants all over the country. These gases are supplied through pipelines to captive customers in adjacent factories; in cryogenic transport tanks for bulk deliveries to long distance customers; or filled in cylinders. The recent development of pandemic emergency requirements has brought upon new technological intervention to generate and set up self-assessed completions of capturing plants of oxygen within the districts of India. It has been one of the major initiatives taken as part of the emergency response and disaster management requirements
With increased industrialization, the demand pattern of industrial gases is also changing fast. Modern applications in the food processing industry, Agro industries, healthcare and technology are growing at a tremendous pace. This has driven the Indian Industrial Oxygen industry to adopt stringent quality control systems and an efficient distribution network.
The Indian Market of Industrial Oxygen can be segmented into following categories for further analysis.
The Oxygen generation as part of the Industrial requirements has been majorly dependent upon the technological capability of generating the required amounts of volumetric oxygen as part of industrial usage and purposes. This has brought upon new levels of technological interventions to increase the production capability alongside possible increase in industrial oxygen availability.
The industrial industry serves an exceptionally large number of customers in the whole community. Industrial gases are essential for almost all manufacturing. Large quantities of oxygen, nitrogen and argon are used in the basic and infrastructural industries. Shipyards and the automotive industry use acetylene, propane, mixtures of fuel gases and oxygen for cutting and welding.
The recent technology being used within the industrial oxygen generation to serve the large volumetric requirements has been through the Air Separation Plant based Cryogenic Oxygen requirement. The cryogenic distillation of air is currently the only method available for the large oxygen production rates required for future fossil fuel gasification and oxyfuel combustion with CO2 capture.
The process has been under development for over 100 years. Current large-scale users are the chemical, steel and petroleum industries. Plant sizes range up to 4000 tonne/day oxygen for the synthesis of Fischer-Tropsch hydrocarbon liquids.
Cryogenic air separation is a mature efficient technology ideally suited for oxyfuel coal fired boilers and capable of efficient integration with fossil fuelled gasification systems. The industry currently uses high efficiency aluminium plate-fin heat exchangers, optimized packed column systems, advanced air purification by adsorption, efficient process cycles and advanced control systems all relevant to future technical needs.
Modern air compressors having high efficiency with advanced aerodynamic design will be available for the large single train O2 plants of up to 10000 tonne/day capacity required for power and H2 systems with CO2 capture
There has been recent development made for oxygen generation using zeolites. Pressure swing adsorbers (PSA) are a much newer technology as compared to cryogenic ASU. PSA devices take atmospheric air into a pressurized tank.
Inside the tank are zeolites. Zeolites, under pressure, have the ability to deform and create a dipole. Depending on the zeolite chosen, this dipole allows for the collection of nitrogen, but allows oxygen to pass. For oxygen enrichment, the PSA is generally pressurized to a minimum of 1.5 atm.
The Compressed Oxygen and Liquid Oxygen are all produced from air in the same plant. Air, the raw material is liquefied cryogenically, and the separation of the two components liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen takes place in a fractional distillation column. Compressed oxygen and nitrogen gases are bottled into cylinders by compressors / pumps after vaporization of the respective liquid fractions.
These products development within the Indian Industrial Oxygen market has played an important role in the recent pandemic considering the emergency faced during the waves hit on India. The Various organisations or stakeholders involved in production of Oxygen had been integrated to have a specific level of new technologies developed for oxygen generation.
Linde Oxygen which has been an active oxygen generator and operator within the Indian Industrial Oxygen market uses the Cryogenic Air Separation Units technology within its operational capability of on-site oxygen generation in bulk amounts. Cryogenic air separation units (ASU) is an old process used to produce high purity oxygen or nitrogen at high volumes. The process was first developed by Carl Von Linde in 1895 and it remains pretty much the same today. Cryogenics is also the chief method by which liquid oxygen can be produced.
The other Air Products technology also have developed a specific technology based upon Conventional membrane technology which involves passing air over a membrane filter. The filter will allow fast gasses to pass and slow gasses will stay.
Oxygen is considered a fast gas and nitrogen and argon are considered slow gasses. Varying levels of purity can be achieved by varying the time that the gas spends undergoing filtration. Previous membrane technology could only produce purity levels of less than 50%.
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