Air Liquide has signed new supply contracts with three major Chinese fibre optics manufacturers that will span a period of 10-15 years.

Under the terms of these new contracts with Futong Group Communication Technology, Yangtze Optical Fibre, and Zhongtian Technology Fine materials, Air Liquide will supply a total of more than 6,000Nm3 per hour of hydrogen (H2) and 4,000Nm3 per hour of nitrogen (N2), together with bulk oxygen (O2), helium (He), argon (Ar) and carbon dioxide (CO2).

In China, demand for fibre optics has experienced rapid growth in recent years, driven by 4G deployment and wideband ‘Fibre to the Home’ and ‘Fibre to the office’ plans. The three companies that Air Liquide will supply account for more than 30% of the Chinese Production.

Francois Abrial, member of Air Liquide’s Executive Committee, supervising Asia Pacific, said, “We are proud to support our customers’ business development. These new projects illustrate Air Liquide’s ability to accompany the rise of fibre optics in China. These gas supply contracts reinforce the group’s position in this growing market and demonstrate its ability to deliver competitive and reliable solutions.

Industrial gases are used to consolidate the centre of the fibre, which consists of a silica glass rod. In practice, the first step in manufacturing fibre optics is to produce this glass ‘preform’. H2, O2 and He are then used to strengthen the preform before heating and drawing. In the final step, He and Ar are used to cool the drawn fibre effectively.