The potential has reportedly arisen for an expansion in demand for oxygen for use with carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS), as hopes are raised for CCS as a means of reducing CO2 emissions from industrial furnaces.

Commencement of practical application of CCS is intended for between 10 and 20 years time, as the trump card for suppressing the rise in the density of CO2 in the atmosphere – cited as a key cause of global warming.

Various aspects of technological development are now being undertaken worldwide, with hopes in the gases industry placed on CCS as a tool for reducing CO2 emissions from industrial processes.

Deliberation is now underway regarding the implementation of CCS at trial plants in Japan for the Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC).

The large scale reduction or removal altogether of CO2 emissions is still an unrealistic ideal, with efforts to merely reduce the level of emissions slightly a far more achievable proposition.

CCS involves the capture or recovery of the escaped CO2 and subsequent storage underground in coal seams or abandoned oil fields. As well as the benefits of this, a further trend has emerged through which efficiency is gained in the recovery process by adding oxygen.

For such recovery processes, these comprise of gasification and oxygen combustion, each of which requires a large ASU and coal firing unit with an output capacity of 150,000 kW. An ASU with a capacity of over 15,000 m3/h of oxygen is required.

Oxy-fuel combustion is thought to be a somewhat more cost-effective option and if the ‘cost burden’ for CO2 emissions reduction were to increase, oxy-fuel processes would have the ability to compete in terms of cost.

Essentially, the Gas Review summarises, we are now at a stage where the development of ASU technology and its efficiencies is required as the need and popularity of CO2 recovery spreads.