Three years ago, Iwatani came out with its trump card the ‘Hydrocut, a cutting gas based primarily on hydrogen. The company already has two factories working on this product and now, according to The Gas Review (TGR), another two companies have entered this space.

Joining Iwatani in the marketplace for hydrogen cutting gas are Taiyo Nippon Sanso (TNSC) and Koike Sanso Kogyo.

Since May 2011, Iwatani has been marketing Hydrocut, a composition of 60% hydrogen and 40% ethylene. The company operates dedicated filling facilities at two locations, one at its Himeji Plant and the other at the Chiba Plant #2 of Iwatani Industrial Gases.

One of the reasons that the company became involved in the development of Hydrocut was the shrinking of the acetylene market. Iwatani is also a producer of acetylene and the company had been consolidating and abolishing production facilities in a programme of rationalisation. Taking into consideration the future profitability of this business, the company embarked upon the development of an alternative; Iwatani was also keen to get away from the welded cylinders used for acetylene, as it strived for the efficient use of assets such as its seamless cylinders.

The target now is to capture up to 30% of the acetylene market. While Iwatani acknowledges that the customer transition to an entirely new product is often slow-going, the company informed TGR that Hydrocut has been gaining momentum due to the expansion of application and sales.

Since January 2013, Iwatani has been joined in this new marketplace by TNSC, with the latter introducing its ‘Suncutter HL-1’ – a pre-mixed gas composed of hydrogen and LPG. It also has a dedicated filling line at Amagasaki Suiso Hanbai, one of the group’s companies.

Koike Sanso Kogyo is also entering this sphere, ‘taking full advantage’ of its position as a producer. The company unveiled a pre-mixed gas itself called ‘Super Cut H’ – composed of hydrogen and methane gas – and is in the process of creating a supply service with peripheral equipment including nozzles, dry type safety equipment, and dedicated hoses, along with ‘Super Mixing H’ mixers for customers using multi-torch cutting machines of LPG.