China-based Suzhou Oxygen Plant Co., Ltd. (SOPC) has started up a new nitrogen plant that will produce high purity nitrogen and high purity liquid oxygen (LOx) to supply critical gases for Shanghai’s semiconductor industry.

Having passed a performance test on 21st May 2022, commissioning of the dual-column air separation unit (ASU) coincided with the outbreak of Covid-19 in Shanghai last April (2021) and the Chinese New Year holiday, presenting unique challenges for SOPC and its client.

Under the contract, the plant is to produce 8000 Nm3/h (normal cubic metres per hour) high purity nitrogen and 140 Nm3/h high purity LOx, in addition to meeting specified flowrates and purity levels. 

According to SOPC, all purities in the products are higher than contractual requirements, with some values higher than national standards of extra purity nitrogen and oxygen. 

“Such a successful commissioning of the plant has set a precedent to produce high purity nitrogen and oxygen simultaneously with purity in ppb (parts per billion) grade, which is of milestone significance,” stated the company. 

The oxygen content in the ASU’s nitrogen product is less than 10ppb, while the LOx contains less than 20ppb of nitrogen.

Having achieved commissioning of the plant following pandemic-induced difficulties, the client praised SOPC’s efficient delivery given the disruptive circumstances.