Air Liquide is to invest €25m in an air separation unit (ASU) in China’s Sichuan Province after signing two lucrative contracts with the region’s leading TFT-LCD manufacturers.

Driven by growing demand, TFT-LCD manufacturing capacity in China has been experiencing a continued growth rate ranging between 20-30% per year.

This trend is expected to continue during the coming years, as a result of expected upgrade cycles in display devices. At the heart of this growth in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, are Beijing Oriental Electronics Technology Group (BOE) and Tianma Microelectronics Co. Ltd - ranking among the world’s top TFT-LCD manufacturers.

It’s in the dynamic region of Chengdu and with both of these companies that Air Liquide has agreed contracts of late for gas supply.

Air Liquide and BOE recently signed a long-term supply agreement for BOE’s new 4.5-generation TFT-LCD fab in Chengdu high-tech industrial park, in the capital city of Sichuan Province. Under the terms of the agreement, Air Liquide will supply its global offer covering carrier gases (nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen and argon), specialty gases, Total Gas Management and all equipment and installations related to gas supply.

Tianma Microelectronics meanwhile, awarded Air Liquide the supply of all carrier gases to its new 4.5-generation TFT-LCD project in Chengdu, representing the first time Air Liquide and Tianma have entered into a partnership.

First foothold
The signature of the two new contracts will see Air Liquide invest €25m in an ASU to supply BOE, Tianma and the growing market of Chengdu.

Francisco Martins, Vice-President World Business Line Electronics of the Air Liquide Group, declared, “We are proud to serve the leading players of TFT-LCD in China and therefore reinforcing our position as market leader.”

“This investment will allow our first foothold in Chengdu, one of the most important markets in the South West of China and, at the same time, illustrates Air Liquide’s commitment to contribute to the economic reconstruction of the Sichuan earthquake area. In the current economic context, high tech and emerging economies such as China are long-term growth drivers for the group.”

Wang Jiaheng, Vice-President of BOE Group, also added, “After fruitful discussion, we have decided to choose Air Liquide as our gas material partner of BOE Chengdu. Air Liquide has understood our needs and shown competitiveness. We look forward to good cooperation with Air Liquide and benefit from its worldwide capabilities.”