AGA Gas’s roots date back to 1904 and are based on the inventions of one man – Gustaf Dalén – who was not only one of Sweden’s most important Nobel Laureates, but also the only Laureate to create an industrial group.
Initially AGA mainly focused on acetylene gas for railway lighting. The company employed Dalén as Chief Engineer and Workshop Manager whose inventions enabled AGA to grow rapidly. It was the company’s inventions within lighthouse technology - the flashing beacon in 1905, the AGA compound in 1906, the sun valve and Dalén mixer in 1907 - which were to dictate the company’s future.
By 1909 Dalén was President for the company. In 1912 he was badly injured in an explosion which left him blind for life. Dalén was still convalescing when the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences awarded him the Nobel Prize in Physics for his ‘inventions of self-operating regulators, which in combination with gas accumulators can be used to light lighthouses and light buoys’. He never regained his sight but he remained as the company’s President for another 25 years, until his death 1937.
During the late 1960s AGA began to concentrate on the gas sector. Since 2000, AGA is part of The Linde Group with almost 62,000 employees in around 100 countries.
Earlier this month, AGA revealed it had finished an extensive renewal project in Finland. The project included renewing its two existing ASUs in Harjavalta Industrial Park, as well as moving one entire plant from Hanko to Harjavalta. The decision to re-use equipment is quite exceptional in the field globally, and signals ecological awareness.
The hydrogen (H2) production unit in the Industrial Park has also been completely renewed. The units are remote controlled from Germany and Sweden.
The equipment left unused since the shutdown of Hanko Koverhar air gas plant was fully relocated and re-used at the new location.
gasworld spoke to AGA’s Account Manager, Kosti Jylhä, to find out more about the reasons behind the project and why moving an entire factory from one location to another is so exceptional.
The renewal project is based on earlier long-term deals AGA has made with Boliden Harjavalta Oy and Norilsk Nickel Harjavalta Oy, Jylhä explains. The total worth of the investments is €40m ($48m).
He continued, “The basic reasons for the extensive renewal project were the long-term air gases and H2 renewal contracts, including increased volume commitments with our two on-site customers at Harjavalta Industrial Park, located south-western part of Finland.”
“One of the most challenging issues was to plan and adjust the construction schedules in a way that 24/7 deliveries of air gases and H2 were simultaneously ensured to the customers. We used more or less only the normal annual ASU/SMR maintenance stop days for plant revision and connection works.”
The equipment left unused since the shutdown of Hanko Koverhar air gas plant was fully relocated and re-used at the new location in Harjavalta.
When asked why moving an entire plant from one location to another is so uncommon, Jylhä said, “It is a challenge to find for this kind of plant (ASU with only gaseous oxygen (O2) and nitrogen (N2) gas output) such a perfect fit, so that once relocated, the ASU design values (volumes, pressures) would fit to required volumes and pressures in a way that electrical power consumption is optimal.”
“We were lucky to achieve this with the plant relocated to Harjavalta and at the same time also proud of supporting AGA’s sustainable goals.”
Looking to the future, Jylhä told gasworld AGA and Linde will make a major investment in Enköping in Sweden, “We will make a 300m SEK ($37.6m) investment in the most modern cylinder filling plant in Europe. This filling plant will have the same automation elements as the newly renovated Riihimäki filling plant in Finland. The automation will lead to minimized manual handling and thereby achieve improved ergonomics and safety.”