Cars are one of Air Liquide's main industrial gas markets and, in addition to close partnerships with automotive manufacturers; the Group collaborates with all the players in the industrial sector -equipment manufacturers, exclusive suppliers, repair facilities and pollution verification centres.
There are many uses of industrial gas by the automotive market: from welding pieces of sheet metal when assembling bodywork, to using rare gases in headlights to increase the intensity of lighting and car tyres have of course always been inflated using pressurized gas. The question is how will this adapt to motoring in the future?
Air Liquide has taken on a programme of research to answer this question, and the results are interesting. One example of how industrial gases can offer solutions could be the widespread use of nitrogen, rather than air, for tyre inflation. This would keep your wheels inflated at the right pressure for much longer than currently, as nitrogen molecules are larger than those of the oxygen contained in the air.
The other issue Air Liquide is looking at is fuel provision, and in particular the potential of hydrogen. When you fill up your tank with fuel at the service station, you are already putting some hydrogen into your car, for the gases environmentally friendly properties means the sulfur contained in fuel is eliminated. Indeed, Air Liquide is now looking to master the hydrogen $quot;chain$quot; from start to finish, from the research stage through to production and usage saying, $quot;A hydrogen car is not yet on sale for the man in the street but this does not prevent Air Liquide from taking an active part in the development of our present cars - to make them more efficient, safer and cleaner.$quot;
Air Liquide has considerable experience in this area, since it notably manufactures the liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks for the European space launcher Ariane. They have also made inroads into commercial production of hydrogen fuel cells, which they design, produce and market through their subsidiary Axane.