Thailand’s Bangkok Industrial Gas Co. Ltd (BIG) has opened a new air separation unit (ASU) that utilises ‘cold energy’ from LNG regasification.

Operated under Map Ta Phut Air Products Company Limited (MAP), a joint venture company between PTT Public Company Limited (PTT) and BIG, it is the first such plant in Southeast Asia that uses cold energy from LNG regasification.

The plant was operational by the end of September and aims to both reduce carbon emissions from the industrial sector and increase oxygen production capacity to supply the public healthcare sector.

With a total investment over 2,000 million baht and an annual production capacity of industrial gas at 450,000 tonnes, the MAP plant is located in Map Ta Phut industrial estate in Rayong.

Mr. Piyabut Charuphen, Managing Director of BIG, said in a new release, “By using the cold energy from LNG regasification, this ASU plant emphasises the commitment of PTT and BIG to promote energy efficiency and create environmental sustainability. This project is expected to decrease CO2 (carbon dioxide) emission by 28,000 tonnes per year and reduce chilled water released to the sea by 25,000 tonnes per hour.”

“Furthermore, it will encourage economic value-added and prepare the industrial sector for Thailand’s net zero emissions targets.”

The new ASU can produce oxygen, nitrogen, and argon, with a production capacity of liquid oxygen at 140 tonnes per day. When combined with BIG’s actual liquid oxygen production capacity, the total liquid oxygen production capacity will increase to over 1,100 tonnes per day – reportedly the largest in Thailand.

PTT and BIG will supply liquid oxygen to the public healthcare sector, as oxygen continues to play a vital role amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, where the number of confirmed cases and critical patients is on the rise.

Founded in 1987, Bangkok Industrial Gas Co., Ltd. (BIG) is a joint venture between Thai investors (led by Bangkok Bank) and Air Products and Chemicals Inc.

Liquefied natural gas terminal

The power of cold

Power supply and water supply are always vital to the operation of cryogenic air separation units (ASU) to create the cryogenic conditions, or simply the ‘coldness’. The coldness created is considered a source of energy storage and often called ‘cold energy’.

Gas majors are always striving for improvements in the operation to reduce the consumption of these two resources, as power cost keeps escalating and water supply is reported to be growing more restricted in the future. Therefore, any source of cold energy to help the operation is a valuable resource.

Since LNG is also produced by cooling natural gas to a cryogenic temperature of -163ºC and then re-gasified, this releases cold energy before feeding most of its applications. The cold energy released during this process can be recovered for other applications – cryogenic air separation is one of them.

However, this application is nothing new to the Asia-Pacific region, as gasworld explored in an in-depth feature in 2015.