Oxygen – Applications and distribution


So often described as the gas of life, oxygen is the most fundamental and recognisable of the air gases. As essential to industry as it is to life, oxygen is among the top five most widely used chemicals in the world. It is arguably the industrial gas which needs no introduction.

Like fellow air gas nitrogen, oxygen is utilised across a wide range of end-user industries and applications for life itself, applications which are both cyclical and non-cyclical as a result. The significance of oxygen can be demonstrated by looking at some of the world’s key commercial industrial gas markets. In the US market in 2016, for example, oxygen was the third-most important revenue generating industrial gas (worth $3.4bn), behind nitrogen ($4.1bn) and hydrogen ($3.5bn). This is unsurprising as the US market is one of the most developed markets in the world and was therefore more nitrogen driven than it was oxygen driven.

The slowly improving economic landscape in the US in recent years has led to an increase in demand for oxygen, nitrogen, and argon across various sectors, though the key oxygen markets (steelmaking and metal-cutting, chemical and refining, pulp and paper processing, glass making, gasification, and healthcare) in the US continued to be relatively flat in 2017. Strong market drivers today include oxygen combustion, fabrication, and environmental applications.

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