Cryogas Express began setting new industry standards almost from the day the company commenced operation, it claims, and can now boast the first successful bulk argon delivery across 4,800 km of Southern Africa.
The cross-African adventure was undertaken for its newest customer Chemigas, situated in Nairobi, Kenya, to whom the challenge of shipping argon from South Africa previously seemed futile and very expensive.
In three previous attempts, two by sea and one by road, the company’s Isotainer transported only a total of three tonnes of usable argon – more than 40 tonnes having been lost to boil-off in transit.
With the entire route spanning five countries, across the Zambezi River by ferry at Kazungula and passing within 80km of Africa’s highest mountain peak, Kilimanjaro, the shipment was driven by a single driver in 7.5 days, escorted by Cryogas Express Managing Director Graham Hunter in his 4x4 vehicle.
Night driving is regarded as too dangerous because of the ever-present risk of wild animals, domestic animals, motor bikes, bicycles, un-roadworthy vehicles, potholes and fallen away road edges en route.
Hence, the delivery was made during daylight hours only.
Superior insulation efficiency of the three bar tanker built by Rand Air and Gas, a subsidiary PSV Holdings Ltd. in Johannesburg, South Africa, preserved over 80% of the 24 tonne load and the losses were less than 5 tonnes.
Daily progress averaged 600km at 55kph including rest stops, Cryogas Express explained. Around 16 hours were spent waiting at border posts and there was a half-day delay while an engine-brake problem was repaired.
Hunter is confident that by using the company’s high pressure (23 bar) cryogenic tanker in future, boil-off losses can be eliminated completely. He told gasworld, “The rate of pressure increase observed on this trip, with mid-summer ambient temperatures of up to 36°C, was only 0.7 bar per day. This implies that starting with a load pressure of 0.5 bar we will have 32 days before the design pressure is exceeded.”