Afrox has built a new made-to-order speciality gases plant in Germiston, South Africa, to meet the rising demand for complex gas mixtures.

Sharing news of the competition yesterday (5th Feb), Afrox said that complex gases produced at the filling plant will be its main source of all made-to-order gas mixtures. 

Designed for improved accuracy and efficiency, the new facility allows for up to 16 fixed line input components, which can be increased by introducing premixed components on separate filling rigs for oxidant and flammable/toxic mixtures.

The filling and component selection procedures are pre-programmed and digitally controlled in a process that also operates actuated control valves integrated with a scale.

Afrox said the facility allows for the blending of high accuracy multiple part gas mixtures, with a blending tolerance of 2%-5% and an analytical uncertainty of 0.5%-2%, depending on the concentrations of components required and the varying levels of certification needed.

With the new plant, Afrox will supply customers throughout South Africa and its neighbouring countries. The company’s database of speciality gas mixtures contains over 4,000 individual product recipes, ensuring an end product that is fit for purpose.

Commenting on the new plant, Tony Flude, Project Manager at Afrox, said, “The new facility is capable of producing many of the multipart mixtures that were previously imported.”

“The semi-automated fill valves also reduce material wastage, while a booster pump that increases the pressure of low pressure gases significantly reduces filling time,” he continued.

Planning the design of the automated plant began two years ago. As a member of the global Linde group, Afrox was able to draw on the technical expertise gained from other members within the global gases group.

Following in-depth investigation, it was identified that technology used at the new Special Gases gravimetric filling plant commissioned in Australia most closely matched Afrox’s requirements, and was adapted to suit Afrox’s requirements and meet local conditions.

“After thorough analysis, our engineering team concluded that Afrox could design and construct a filling plant utilising a process description based on the facility at BOC Australia,” Flude added.

“While our process was 100% locally designed, being part of the Linde Group gave us access to the latest technology and international experience.”

According to Flude, the brownfields project was logistically challenging as the new facility had to be built without affecting the operation of the existing plant, and stringent safety measures were vital owing to the proximity of toxic and flammable gases.