“For 36 years we have worked to improve the basic unit by 24%,” said Mr Kazunari Arai, of Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation (TNSC).

This 24% improvement achieved over the past 36 years works out to be an annual improvement ratio of 0.7%.

Ryosuke Matsubayashi, Manager of the Process Development Centre of Air Water noted, “It’s only a few percent, but if this success is made use of in all of the plants in operation the contribution overall will be great indeed. The effort put onto a few percent will not slacken.”

This accumulation of just a few fractions of a percent as he notes is something held in common by plant engineers.

For ASU technology, which has been around for over 100 years, it would be difficult to anticipate major improvements in efficiency in the individual components.

Efforts have been made to reduce cost reduction based on a method of efficient liquid gas production combining regional gas demand and the form of gas use by the users, as well as on standardisation of design.
Consideration of a policy concerning the reuse of second hand plants is also anticipated, as well as a variety of approaches the air separation process itself.

Since 2000 the market has been requesting an improvement in the argon yield. The oxygen yield has also been raised by efficient extraction of argon, resulting in a 2% basic unit efficiency. There was also an improvement in the capability of the components, such as the air compressor. All of this resulted in an improvement of 24%.

The fact is however, that the point has been reached whereby a revolutionary improvement exceeding 10% is probably not possible.