The term leisure gases refers to products such as carbon dioxide, helium and propane which are used in various entertainment, sports or even cooking applications and their usage is growing for a variety of reasons. We asked a number of gas service suppliers and providers to tell us more about how your time off is keeping them busy.
keeping clean with carbon dioxide
Originally established to provide low-volume cryogenic deliveries to the scientific market, CryoService now supplies an extensive range of cryogenic and specialist gases to a wide range of markets in the science, leisure and industrial sectors. They describe their leisure division as, $quot;providing highly innovative solutions to traditional problems associated with cylinder supply for the soft drinks, swimming pool and licensed drinks markets.$quot;
It is one of these innovative solutions, the CryoService CO2 swimming pool range, that we shall examine here. Managing Director, John Carver tells us that CO2 has been in his range since 1983 and the first swimming pool product was added in 1987. Following the success of the units the company has now fitted hundreds of systems in hotels and leisure centres. Their innovative system uses CO2 as a natural, user-friendly alternative to mineral acids for the pH control in swimming pools. CO2 when bubbled into water, dissolves readily and produces carbonic acid and their CO2 dosing systems take advantage of this by injecting CO2 gas directly into the water within the circulation pipe work. This system is probably the safest acid dosing system, since there is no liquid to mix, carry, splash or spill.
Carver tells us, $quot;using mineral acids can be dangerous and also the slightest bit too much and chlorine can get out of control. CO2 is only very mildly acid and it's a very good controlled medium so safety and convenience are the main advantages and it's cheaper!$quot; In addition to this, the system offers other advantages over chlorine use. Mr Carver explains, $quot;The unique thing about Cryoservice is that we have these mini bulk tanks called CarboStore which are double skinned vessels that are filled off a tanker which is a much better method of supply.$quot; He explains they are convenient for users saying, $quot;You can put the unit in the pool room and fill it from a remote tanker without anyone from the site having to be involved.$quot; He continues, $quot;You never even have to bother seeing it you can just make the connection, make the fill the tank fills automatically and stops when its full and then the driver electronically issues a delivery note.$quot;
Cryoservice say their CarboStore product is a common choice for customers as it offers both convenience and safety. They note the products versatility saying it, $quot;can be sited internally or externally and refilled on site.$quot; They also are keen to boast their safety credentials saying, $quot;Back-up cylinders and cages can be provided for added security and isolation valves are fitted for increased safety.$quot;
On the back of their innovative approach CryoService say they are now the leading supplier of CO2 to the sports market, and the preferred supplier to the largest fitness groups and municipal pools in the UK. Furthermore their experience in crossing between applications means that the CO2 used in swimming pools can also be used for drinks dispensing within the same complex. John Carver explains the advantages of using the product in this way saying, $quot;some of the hotel groups have one tank and one stream goes off to the pool and the other goes off to the bar. The customer has one bulk supply to deal with all their needs. It's very interactive.$quot;
BOC Sureserve - better service for bars
BOC Sureserve have long been a core supplier in the leisure gas market and their current range includes drink dispenser gases and equipment, propane and patio equipment as well as balloon gases and packs for all occasions. These gases have a range of uses across the hospitality industry and we asked one of the world's major gas suppliers to tell us more about their supply and usage.
Reena Kanani is the Product Manager on the leisure side of BOC Sureserve and explains, $quot;Our customer base consists of clubs, pubs, hotels, restaurants, leisure centres - anywhere that would be serving customers.$quot; Indeed, we are reliably informed that BOC hold the honour of being the first company to coin the phrase $quot;leisure gas,$quot; and have always played a role in bringing products into the marketplace.
The newest addition to the BOC Sureserve range is propane, which was added around two years ago.
Reena explains, $quot;propane gas is fairly new for us, only the last two years or so, everything else has been on the books for quite some time.$quot; The market here is for pubs, restaurants and really anyone in the leisure industry that wants to heat their patio or run barbecues. Furthermore as temperatures heat up (and in some places cool down) demand is growing for al fresco dining or a touch of warmth on a cool evening.
BOC has not gone it alone in this area as Reena explains, $quot;The propane gas is something where we have a joint alliance with Calor gas. They distribute on behalf of us but we sell the product for them to our own customer base.$quot; She believes there is room for BOC to grow in this market saying, $quot;things like barbecues and patio heaters are up and coming in the hospitality market. It's something that the leisure industry is investing in.$quot;
The company also offers an extensive network of support to customers on the ground such as training, cylinder testing and they offer a wealth of advice on safe practice. Ms Kanani explains that her company understands the importance of making safety a priority when dealing with gases, $quot;BOC Sureserve are very conscious about safety and we offer lots of options for our customers, so they can be the safest they can be.$quot; She continues, $quot;This can be from chaining a cylinder to the wall so it doesn't fall over and hurt someone to installing a CO2 monitor so staff aren't putting their lives at risk if there is a gas leak.$quot;
Air Products - the lighter side of life
As we have often reported there are many uses for helium in the marketplace from flat screen televisions to medical imaging. However the first you are most likely to encounter is the uplifting application of helium balloons.
Helium has hit the headlines of late as problems in the supply line have reinforced the product as one of the industry's most sought after commodities. This depletion in reserves was felt right across the industry, even down to the gas used to fill inflatable floats at carnivals across the world. The world's largest producer of helium, Air Products says it is continuing to increase the capacity of helium sources globally to supply its customers.
Furthermore in the leisure sector they say, $quot;Air Products is committed to the balloon industry and this is illustrated in our commitment and investment into this sector. For example, since helium is irreplaceable, we are always looking for new recovery, purification, and recycling technologies to reduce its consumption.$quot;
They offer a range of products for the balloons industry and they say, $quot;We understand our customer's needs for reliable, worry-free supply and Air Products is in a unique position to provide helium customers with secure, reliable supply, along with expert applications support, pioneering technology, commitment to Total Quality assurance and safety, and global coverage.$quot; They offer a range of products to accommodate customer needs such as the $quot;innovative, 300-bar HeligasÂ® lightweight cylinder range.$quot;
Air Products explain that these, $quot;are up to 50 percent lighter than traditional cylinders, contain up to 50 percent more gas and contain an Air Products maintained pressure-regulating equipment within the cylinder.$quot; According to designers, $quot;Overall compared to traditional cylinders, they offer customers safer handling and easier use.$quot;
Air Products say that these easy to use products offer not only simplicity of service but also the reassurance of partnering a major player in the helium market. They say, $quot;there are only a few places in the world that have the composition of natural gas required to economically extract helium.$quot; However despite these problems the group have managed to meet the needs of many of their customers. They say, $quot;No other industrial gas company has access to as much helium as Air Products, and no other supplier has as many owned and operated helium facilities.$quot;
Carbon dioxide - keeping cool
and fogging the issue
Our next set of applications focuses on the many uses of solid carbon dioxide, dry ice.
Dry ice removes almost twice as much heat per pound as water ice and is ideal for a variety of cooling uses. This CO2 gas also inhibits the growth of many types of bacteria. This makes it an excellent option for filling your picnic hamper on a hot day, and can make a trip to the beach a much cooler experience.
Most industrial gas companies have dry ice in their product range, and companies such as Airgas have a large retail operation that offers their Penguin Brand Dry Ice to the general public.
Picking up where we started they explain, $quot;Penguin Brand Dry IceÂ® is a handy and convenient way to cool or freeze food items. From cooling sandwiches and drinks while sunning at the beach, to creating fun special effects Penguin Brand Dry Ice has many uses. During power outages, placing Penguin Brand Dry Ice in your refrigerator or freezer can prevent perishable items from spoiling.$quot; They also tell us, $quot;Once only available directly from manufacturers, dry ice is now readily available in many grocery stores across the country.$quot;
Picture the scene for our next example of dry ice use, it's the dramatic climax of another Hollywood blockbuster. Our hero enters the darkest edge of the woods to save the day whilst a swirl of fog wraps dramatically around him. Where do you get fog on tap? Easy - it's another industrial gas application.
Small scale smoke effects are created by pouring dry ice pellets into a half full bowl (or similar container), of hot water. This escalates the sublimation of the dry ice from its solid state, directly to the carbon dioxide gas, which creates the 'smoke effect' in a localised area.
Despite the common misconception, it's not the carbon dioxide you are seeing hanging in the air - it's actually water vapour created by the reaction of dry ice with water. This is used by photographers and film makers to create a localised effect, and for 'Halloween' effects in clubs and local theatres, where the general public are not allowed to come into direct contact with the Dry Ice.
However, this does in itself have some inherent safety risks which suppliers are keen to explain and should always offer MSDS product safety sheets about. As well as the possibility of suffocation from the carbon dioxide gas, there is the danger from the 'freezing' effect, as Dry Ice is -78.6o centigrade! However, the recurring theme of our piece raises it's head again - handled carefully and properly these danger points are controllable.
The use of industrial gases in the leisure industry encompasses a wide variety of applications from the well established to the upcoming.
As we have seen, new uses for gases are pushing the envelope for the leisure gases market and sales in traditional markets are also holding strong as disposable income increases. Areas such as carbon dioxide use in swimming pools have created safer opportunities for customers than traditional methods and new facilities and capabilities are making gas usage ever more accessible across the board.
From our discussions with those within the market it seems the potential problem of using gases in the public arena is the problem it could be, and all of our contributors have been quick to reassure us that when it comes to the crunch whether at home, at the theatre or even in a bar these products are built for entertainment - but safety comes first.