Air Liquide will invest more than 20 million euros to build a new air separation unit (ASU) in China.

The move follows the French company\\$quot;s establishment in Hangzhou of Air Liquide (Zhejiang) in December 2004.

The new ASU will be build in the Hangzhou Economical Development Area (HEDA), which is according to the company recognised as one of the top industrial parks in China.

Air Liquide will supply liquid nitrogen, oxygen and argon, with a total capacity of 430 tons per day, to customers in Hangzhou, as well as in the Zhejiang Province and the Greater Shanghai area. The ASU will also supply large users by pipeline.

Jean-Pierre Duprieu of Air Liquide, said: \\$quot;With growth rates of 40 per cent each year, Air Liquide is experiencing expansion in China in all its business lines. This investment in a large ASU will further strengthen Air Liquide\\$quot;s presence and market position in the promising Hangzhou zone. It represents a major move into a new and rapidly growing area.\\$quot;

Hangzhou Mayor Sun ZhongHuan added: \\$quot;The city of Hangzhou is happy to welcome the world leader in industrial and medical gases in our fast developing area. Total foreign investment in Hangzhou represents today about 15 billion euros and keeps expanding.\\$quot;

The new ASU will be designed and manufactured by Air Liquide Hangzhou, which is a 100 per cent Air Liquide subsidiary and the company\\$quot;s engineering centre in China.

Air Liquide has been developing the Greater Shanghai market for more than 15 years. It already has ASUs in Wuxi and Shanghai and will shortly commission another in Zhanjiagang to supply Zhanjiagang Posco Stainless Steel (ZPSS) by pipeline and also the local market.

The company says it will invest approximately 500 million euros in China between 2004-2008 in order to meet strong market demand and to seize growth opportunities.