The aspiring economy of Botswana is set to receive a boost with the advent of a new float glass manufacturing plant, which could also signal increased industrial gas demand in sub-Saharan Africa.
According to news reports, geotechnical construction work is already underway in the landlocked Southern African country as part of a major project.
Botswana is believed to boast an impressive amount of raw materials and since its independence in 1966, has experienced one of the fastest growth rates in per capita income in the world. Set to take advantage of these raw resources, the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) is hoping to establish a glass manufacturing plant in Palapye.
Preparatory work is thought to have begun this summer and the project is currently in the geotechnical and civil works stage.
Palapye was chosen as the location of the plant, as it is home to Botswana’s only coal mine - with energy being a major requirement of glass manufacturing. Another major requirement of float glass manufacture is industrial gases, with industrial grade oxygen used to displace combustion air in the manufacturing process.
Earlier this year for example, Air Products Brasil built and placed on-stream an air separation plant (ASU) to provide gases to a new float glass manufacturing plant in São Paulo, Brazil.
The new ASU is providing both nitrogen and oxygen for the new float glass production plant., while Air Products Brasil is also supplying hydrogen via an on-site plant as part of an overall product package.
As an example of the way in which gases can benefit the glass production trade, on that occasion Air Products was able to demonstrate the operational benefits and fuel savings of a grouped gases offering.
Over 90% of the world production of flat glass is float glass, which can be cut and fitted directly to frames or custom tabletops for making modern windows, or used as raw material in processes such as glass tempering, lamination, and manufacture of mirrors and solar panels.
The Republic of Botswana is bordered by South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, while it meets Zambia at a single point. Industrial gases are relatively well catered for in the region, with notable gas companies in the area including Air Liquide, Air Products and The Linde Group’s African Oxygen Limited (Afrox).