Air Products is preparing for the construction of a new 100 ton per day (tpd) ion transport membrane oxygen production test facility.

The pilot plant project will be located in Convent, Louisiana and shall include an ion transport membrane ITM oxygen producing unit as well as an electrical cogeneration power unit.

The project will be part funded by the United States Department of Energy, and will be operational in the second half of 2012.

Ted Foster, Director of Business Development at Air Products described the project as a ‘significant scale-up in size’ from its five tpd ITM facility. The Director added, “The 100 tpd unit to be built is an intermediate size unit and will provide reliable engineering and economic data to position this technology for the next scale up in size to approximately 2,000 tpd, which we see as the logical step toward serving much larger energy plants.”

“We appreciate DOE’s continued support in this developmental work and believe that ITM oxygen technology will play a role in advancing clean power generation in both today’s power market and also in the future in the expected carbon-constrained environment,” said Foster.

According to Air Products the secret of the facility lies in its ITM technology, which uses a ceramic material that, under pressure and temperature, ionises and separates oxygen molecules from air. The process operates without electrical power and as a result is economical and efficient, while it also decreases the need for cooling water. The technology operates as an alternative to traditional cryogenic air separation units, which is the conventional means of oxygen production for steel mills.

Foster elaborated, “The 100 TPD unit will feature ITM pilot plant sized vessels and really start bringing us into the range of a commercial facility. It also will be the first time we have co-located an ITM unit and a cogeneration facility. The pilot plant project will allow us to show how well the two technologies could work on a larger scale and use the capability to produce power to optimise the ITM control system to benefit larger ITM-based cogen plants in the future.”

Air Products has been involved in ITM oxygen technology since 1988. The firm has operated a five tpd prototype ITM test facility in Sparrows Point, Maryland since 2006.