Air Liquide is commissioning a nitrogen liquifier at it’s plant in Isipingo, Durban, South Africa, doubling the company's production capacity in KwaZulu-Natal.

Air Liquide CEO Alain Larousse notes, $quot;This is to meet the growth requirements of our customers in the pulp and paper, supply chain and chemical industries$quot;. The liquifier is the first of a new generation of highly efficient plant in the country, developed by Air Liquide Engineering as a proprietary technology for modular capacity expansion.

$quot;The biggest potential for Air Liquide lies in its ability to demonstrate to companies that it can autoproduce their industrial gases and that they will add value to their business by outsourcing their future needs,$quot; says Larousse.

Due to a global lack in the gas's reliability of supply, consumers have been making efforts to manufacture CO2 internally. $quot;Air Liquide South Africa is more than keen to invest in the country, with the technological support of an international group. This is a big opportunity to make a difference locally.$quot;

Air Liquide commissioned a new CO2 source in the Western Cape Early in 2008 – the first new source of CO2 in over ten years in South Africa. $quot;We will start work on a second new capacity, to be on line for this year's summer peak,$quot; says Larousse. Air liquide is planning for further CO2 source investments in the near future, meaning highly reliable supply and geographical closeness to clients will give the company a competitive advantage.

$quot;We have already completed a large upgrade, a year ago, to bring our plants in line with the highest quality control standards in order to meet the needs of our food and beverage clients.$quot;

Larousse notes that lack of skills is the main challenge facing the company in South Africa. $quot;Access to education remains way too low for previously discriminated-against people and the pool of good math students, able to choose a technical career, is almost dry. As an industrial gas company, investing in the country for durations from ten to 20 years at a time, we have to mitigate this situation ourselves, by planning the development of our employees in the long term.$quot;

Rapid increases in market needs for certain gases have meant that product shortages have been a problem in South Africa, allowing little time to bring new capacity online, particularly in the areas of CO2 and more recently, argon (Ar).