After an enterprising and hugely engaging opening day, during which the energy evolution was firmly in focus, day two of the North American Industrial Gas Conference 2012 is underway in Miami, Florida.

Day two continues the 20:20 vision theme and focuses on the critical success factors for the future, with a view to the eight years ahead.

Supply and demand issues are very much in the spotlight, particularly with regard to CO2 and helium, as Advanced Cryogenics’ Sam Rushing and MATHESON’s Phil Kornbluth deliver insights into these markets.

Boise, Idaho-based Jim Kissler, President of Norco, started proceedings with his opening speech and reflected on the importance of the conference as a local independent.

Kissler described the company’s history and its path to 2012, while then offering a view to 2020 and how he anticipates Norco will develop over the coming years.

“Part of the philosophy [at Norco] dates back to when my father started the company, and that is finding the need and filling it. That has been a big part of Norco’s philosophy. We got close to our customers, listened to them and asked them what kind of product needs they have.”

“This philosophy of listening to what you customer needs, having that diversity, is what has helped our company to grow. I think that we’re going to continue to look for opportunities to grow our business into new markets, and we will also continue to broaden our product line and offer products that our customers need in stable, solid markets.”

“The last four letters of the word ‘American’ are ‘I can’ and we have to work to that. My grandfather Larry Kissler could do it, and so could you”

“Growth and diversity,” he concluded, “are the secrets to our success and I think we’re going to keep them going for the next eight years.”

Kissler was also effusive about the US as a land of opportunity and in closing his presentation he encouraged, “If it wasn’t for the free enterprise system that’s offered by this country and other countries around the world, Norco would never be here.”

“The last four letters of the word ‘American’ are ‘I can’ and we have to work to that. My grandfather Larry Kissler could do it, and so could you.”

CO2 supply chain

Advanced Cryogenics’ Rushing then took to the stage to discuss the CO2 supply chain and the issues within this market, explaining how CO2 is essentially a by-product of other processes and industries and the quest is on for long-term source types.

There are around 100 CO2 plants in the US today, he explained, and these vary by source types:

·     39% fermentation

·      21% anhydrous ammonia

·      20% reformer related

·      12% natural

·       8% other, including ethylene oxide for example

Referring to some of the challenges or issues in the market, he elaborated, “There is no production in Florida for example, the state is seeking production - it needs production. Everything is currently brought in from Georgia, so that’s one example of a supply chain issue.”

Rushing then turned to the potential future sources for CO2 and alluded to the significant role that so-called cleaner energy may play in this business. “Obviously CO2 is a by-product of the chemical and combustion industries and things of that nature,” he said. “The industry is striving for diversification of source types. We’re seeking high CO2 content and that means we’re seeking a lot of by-product sources.”

“During the last decade the fastest growing source type in the US has been ethanol-based or fermentation, but that has been somewhat tarnished in the last year by drought and high corn prices, and that has led to several plants being mothballed or idled.”

“Advanced biofuels will contribute to raw CO2 sources in the future, in the long-term ethanol is viable, as grain-based and cellulosic projects, though there have been setbacks with commercial cellulosic projects in the US such as a project in Florida.”

Rushing added, “A source that has high long-term feasibility in my mind is anhydrous ammonia, which is enjoying low natural gas prices now, due in part to hydraulic fracturing. We have an all-time high in oil and gas production right now. Long-term biofuels projects will also be a major part of CO2 sources in the future.”

“Biofuels and natural gas are the key to the future in my thinking.”

The almost always topical subject of helium supply and demand followed, as MATHESON’s Phil Kornbluth discussed the ‘Helium Cliff’ and future projections for this invaluable resource.

“It’s all about supply, it’s not about demand. We believe, at MATHESON, that the global helium supply chain has become permanently less reliable, more or less. There has been a loss of flex capacity previously provided by the BLM pipeline, and increased dependence on LNG-based sources,” he explained.

“While there is all this talk about this Fiscal Cliff, which may not happen, the helium cliff is a cliff…”


See related article online, ‘Kornbluth – Helium Cliff approaching’ for the full story on Kornbluth’s presentation.

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