Air Products South Africa has invested R100m ($6.7m) in a COexpansion and refurbishment project at the Newcastle Facility in ZwaZulu-Natal and an upgrade at the National Petroleum Refiners of South Africa (Natref) facility in Sasolburg.

The growing food and beverage industry, the largest consumer of CO2, has been identified as a target market in line with the long-term strategic vision for the CO2 business at Air Products.

Air Products’ COfacility in Newcastle has the capacity to produce and recover large quantities of CO2 from blast furnace off-gas, but the facility’s capacity to liquify gas was limited. 

“The scope of the COexpansion and refurbishment project which started in early 2017 was quite extensive,” said Charles Dos Santos, General Manager of On-Sites, Air Products South Africa.

“The project was executed in three parallel streams, which required the installation of a new liquefier, the addition of two liquid storages on the facility as well as the refurbishment of the existing gaseous COproduction facility.”

“The refurbishment part of the project was extremely challenging as the work had to be done on a facility that was operational, thereby only allowing the refurbishment team limited opportunities to undertake the necessary refurbishment, upgrades and tie-ins as the operations allowed.”

COis produced for Air Products from two different sources – the Newcastle Facility and the Natref refinery in Sasolburg. COis produced at the facilities according to the International Society of Beverage Technologists (ISBT) specifications as a minimum quality specification.

The COused for food and beverage applications is required to be tested and supplied with a certificate of analysis.

Abdul Shaik, Operational Risk Manager at Air Products South Africa, explained, “Prior to the upgrade project, the COproduced at the Natref Facility had to be transported by tanker to the Air Products Vanderbijlpark Facility where it was tested and a COA was issued by the Vanderbijlpark Quality Control Laboratory.”

“This caused inefficiencies in our road tanker fleet and unnecessary time delays, ultimately impacting on the overall service delivery to the customer. With the upgrade, a laboratory and analyser were installed at the Natref Facility enabling on-site testing at the facility.”

“The laboratories location at both the Natref and Newcastle facilities ensure that the quality is verified at source and as a result this leads to an improvement in customer service.”

The investment in the project has enabled Air Products to utilise its assets to expand to meet the market’s increased COdemands.

According to Seelan Gouden, General Manager of Supply Chain at Air Products South Africa, supplying larger volumes of COis perceived as challenging to most companies.

“Air Products has been extremely cautious, and we did all the necessary forecasts and projections to ensure that our decision is responsible and will benefit the organisation in the long term,” Gouden explained.

“Air Products’ entire value chain has been impacted by this upgrade and we are pleased with the increased diversity of production sites and storage capacity. We are also ensuring that we optimise our modern fleet by doing less trips and reducing our carbon footprint.”

“We look forward to providing a secure supply of COto our existing customers as well as to grow the COmarket.”

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