Air Products has announced plans to build, own and operate a second air separation unit (ASU) to support Big River Steel LLC’s expansion at its Osceola, Arkansas steel mill.

The new ASU will add to Air Products’ existing ASU at the same location and will provide oxygen, nitrogen and argon to both Big River Steel and the merchant market.

The ASU is scheduled to be onstream in January 2021.

“One of our core company goals is to provide excellent customer service and we believe that a second ASU and contract extension with Big River is a good indication we are meeting that goal. Big River is a good indication we are meeting that goal,” said Marie Ffolkes, President, Americas at Air Products.

“Big River is a premier steel manufacturer and we are pleased to be a key contributor to their expansion plants at Osceola.”

“Our ASU will be important to Big River’s operations and our expanded facility’s configuration will allow us to further enhance reliability of product supply to Big River and to increase our industrial gas supply to current and new merchant market customers,” Ffolkes continued.

The new facility will be capable of producing over 250 tonnes per day (TPD) of oxygen and additional quantities of liquid products, booting Air Products’ liquid bulk business for the merchant market which is seeing regional growth in several segments.

“Big River Steel is pleased with Air Products’ performance and I look forward to expanding our relationship as Big River Steel doubles its steelmaking capacity,” said David Stickler, Big River Steel’s CEO.

Air Products has supplied Big River Steel at Osceola from a dedicated ASU since 2016. The expansion will double Big River Steel’s hot-rolled steel production capacity to 3.3 million tonnes annually.

The ASU will facilitate the company’s ability to produce even higher grade of electrical steel, demand for which is expected to increase with continued focus on energy efficiency and the increase in hybrid and electric vehicle sales.