Air Liquide announces that it has signed a long-term agreement with IRICO Electronics, a subsidiary of the IRICO Group, to supply oxygen to its new glass plant located in the Hefei Xinzhan Comprehensive Experiment Zone (Anhui province, China) where many high-tech industries (semiconductors, thin-Film Transistor Crystal Display industry, plasma display panels, etc) are setting up bases. IRICO Electronics’ plant will produce glass for the photovoltaic market.
Under the terms of the agreement, Air Liquide will invest in an Air Separation Unit (ASU) with a capacity of 770 tonnes of oxygen per day in the same industrial zone. The ASU, which will be commissioned at the end of 2012, will also produce gaseous nitrogen, and liquid oxygen, nitrogen and argon for the dynamic local industrial market.
Air Liquide has also recently commissioned a large high-purity nitrogen plant in this zone to supply carrier gases through pipelines to the flat display panel plant of BOE (Beijing Oriental Electronics Technology Group). BOE is China’s largest domestic TFT-LCD (thin film transistor liquid crystal display) manufacturer.
Air Liquide’s total investment in the industrial basin of Hefei will come to around €50 million.
Established in 1978, as the first color picture tubes (CPTs) producer in China, IRICO also manufactures related CPT components, glass related products and glasses for photovoltaic cells. IRICO Group is one of many large scale state-owned enterprises under the SASAC (the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission) in China.
The photovoltaic project, a major investment for IRICO Electronics in Hefei, boasts three full oxygen burning glass melting furnaces, with a melting capacity of 500 tons per day each. Full oxygen technology brings energy efficiencies as well as reducing nitrous oxides (NOx) emissions. In addition, new glass production lines will be built as IRICO aims to build in Hefei a large solar photovoltaic glass factory.
A spokesperson for IRICO said: “After fruitful discussion, we have decided to choose Air Liquide to be the partner of IRICO Electronics. Thanks to Air Liquide’s integrated industrial gases solutions with pipelines systems in the Zone, we can better focus on our core business. We look forward to a close partnership with Air Liquide and hope to benefit from its worldwide capabilities.”
Jean-Marc de Royere, Senior Vice-President Air Liquide Group in charge of Asia Pacific and a member of the Executive Committee, said: “These contracts illustrate Air Liquide’s strategy of supporting industrial basins and high tech industries in China. I want to thank IRICO Electronics and BOE for their confidence in our ability to supply added-value gases and turnkey solutions. Developing economies, the Environment and High-tech are growth drivers for Air Liquide Group.”
Air Liquide in China
operates today more than 40 plants and employs about 3,500 people, with a presence in the key coastal industrial areas, while expanding into the west and the northeast. Air Liquide has also strong Engineering capabilities through Air Liquide Hangzhou and Lurgi. Air Liquide returned to China in the 1970s to supply air separation units and restarted gas operations in 1990.