German industrial gases company Messer is celebrating the completion of the next major step in the construction of its air separation unit (ASU) in Salzgitter, Germany.

After laying the cornerstone for the production plant, located on the site of Salzgitter Flachstahl, a company belonging to Salzgitter AG , in May last year, Messer is pleased to have completed the next stage of the process on target.

The most powerful crawler crane in southern Germany was brought to the site recently, to lift a 140-ton aluminium column 100 metres into the air, so that it could be lowered into a 62 metre tall steel housing.

Within the separation column of the air separation plant, ambient air is broken down into its principal components of oxygen and nitrogen using a state-of-the-art thermal separation process.

The various properties from the gases enhance the quality of many products across all branches, or they make the manufacture of such products possible in the first place.

$quot;We are sticking to our target of creating a reliable production basis for gases for northern and eastern Germany and hope that in doing so we will make a long-term contribution toward encouraging more companies to settle there,$quot; explained Stefan Messer, Owner and CEO of the Messer Group.

With its long-term projects (the contract has a 15 year term) the largest privately managed industrial gas producer claims it is defying the economic crisis.

From August 2010, Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH will be supplied with industrial gases from the production plant for a period of 15 years.
The air separation plant will feed up to 28,000 standard cubic metres of gaseous oxygen per hour into Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH's distribution network.

Messer can optionally supply the company with up to 40,000 standard cubic metres of nitrogen per hour in gaseous form, and will also produce liquid oxygen, nitrogen and argon for the local market.