Tier One player, Air Liquide, has signed two separate contracts, worth a combined total of €20m ($22m), for the supply of high purity xenon (Xe) in the all-electric propulsion satellite market.

The first is with Airbus Defence and Space, the world leader in high power electric satellites, and the second with Thales Alenia Space, the leader in High Throughput Satellites.

Air Liquide, the world leader for Xe, uses its proprietary technologies to extract Xe from air and relies on diversified sourcing capabilities to ensure a sustainable supply. Advanced analytical equipment is used to produce customer-specific Xe, from standard to ultra-high purity, for the industrial, medical, electronics and space sectors.

Its density and inertness make this noble and rare gas extremely valuable for different applications, such as the electric propulsion of satellites and as a propellant for the satellite’s orbit raising and station-keeping.

Guy Salzgeber, Senior Vice-President of Europe Industries, and member of the Air Liquide group’s Executive Committee, commented, “Through these contracts, we are happy to contribute to the European leadership in satellite construction by bringing our expertise in the management of sourcing and in the supply chain of noble gases which it requires.”

The development of all-electric engines is beginning to revolutionise the satellite industry. These engines use energy produced by the satellite’s solar panels to eject a gas, predominantly Xe, which in turn, generates the thrust. All-electric engines increase the satellite’s load capacity by 50% which reduces the launching costs.

Air Liquide hinted that at least one-third of the market will switch to this technology in the coming years.