The Rare Gases Market Report


Wlliams Ramsay and Travers Morris discovered the three gases — krypton (Kr), xenon (Xe), and neon (Ne) — more than 120 years ago. These three are part of a family of gases most commonly referred to as rare or noble. Completely inert and chemically stable, rare gases are produced from specially designed large air separation plants (ASU).

Today there are about 85 plants worldwide designed to extract a crude mixture of Kr and Xe. In this market update, we focus on the supply and demand for krypton and xenon.

The current world production of crude gas mixture (approximately 90 percent Kr, eight percent Xe, and two percent impurities) is around 111,000,000 liters. Of this, krypton is approximately 100,000,000 liters and xenon is about 11,000,000 liters. Note that Xe is 11 percent of the total, not the eight percent you would expect given the ratio of xenon in the crude mixture. This is because some xenon production is attached to the hydrocarbon waste streams of some oxygen plants, instead of having these O2 plants be equipped with internal trays. Some of the krypton is not recovered in this process, but most of the xenon is, causing a higher percentage of Xe to be produced than you would expect.

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