There could have been no better subject to start off day two of the EIGA Symposium than oxygen – and how its power is harnessed in a multitude of ways.

Michele Visentin, from the SOL Group, had an interesting point regarding the benefits of oxyfuel combustion, stating it is energy efficient and provides environmental solutions for the metals industry.

He said, “Energy efficiency, resource conservation and climate protection are becoming even more important in the metals industry,” adding “whether to melt or simply heat the ferrous or nonferrous the answer is ‘the use of oxygen technologies.’”

Oxyfuel combustion refers to the use of pure, industrial grade, oxygen instead of air for combustion of fuel – which offers a number of advantages over air fuel combustion.

“(Using oxyfuel results in) higher flame temperature, increased heat transfer, increased thermal efficiency, reduced exhaust volume and reduced fuel consumption,” Visentin explained.

He also added that an Electrical Arc Furnace (EAF) is also an efficient way of producing steel. “The EAF reduces the production of CO2 in making steel, when compared to using a blast furnace. But an EAF is only efficient when oxygen is being used intensively.”

Visentin predicted aluminium will have a stellar rise in its usage and will be the “metal of the future”. One of it’s advantages is the reduction of energy required to use recycled aluminium – only 95% of the energy is used, when compared to the primary production.

“The approximate savings made when producing one tonne of recycled aluminium (production process only) versus primary aluminium production is 2,000 kg of CO2 and 11kg of SO2 emissions, 860l processing water and 15,000l of cooling water and 1,300kg of bauxite ore,” he said.

Next to the stage was Air Products’ Ian Brass, who detailed the EU’s emissions trading scheme (ETS)– and the implications for the industrial gas sector.

The ETS came from a target, set by the EU, which wanted to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by 20%. And the aim is to achieve this by 2020.

Brass concluded that EIGA has been working with the EU on the set-up of various policy implementation stages but there was a “continuing need for attention and engagement.”

Safety in the oxygen plant was next on the agenda as the Messer Groups’s Danilo Ritlop concluded the EIGA Symposium section on oxygen. His presentation aim was to highlight simple, practical safety recommendations to improve safety in oxygen filling plants.

“Through EIGA we all have improved safety in the last decades.  Thus we are celebrating today,” he said, adding “however, the commitment to continual improvements is a part of EIGA’s Mission and we have to proceed with our efforts.”

“Last year the ‘EIGA Workshop’ focused on a single specific topic: oxygen safety. This presentation presents a continuation of the EIGA efforts to keep oxygen safety awareness at the highest possible level.”

“The fact is that oxygen is one of the fastest growing products and that oxygen-related accidents are still too frequent. As oxygen supports fire, the fire is considered as the greatest hazard and the most probable risk.”

“Oxygen burn out is the most common compressed oxygen-related event, mostly happening during or immediately after the filling of cylinders.”

Due to this fact, Ritlop focused on this and gave a number of recommendations. In his first, he stressed that those in our industry should be continually learning about oxygen and sharing their knowledge with others.

He explained, “Oxygen is very sensitive to sudden changes of the flow regime. So operators should operate oxygen valves by opening them slowly.”

The second recommendation he made was that operators should understand the hazards, and stated that good training is essential to operating in a safe way.

In total, Ritlop made eight recommendations. But the most poignant was recommendation number seven – the 10-second rule.

“After opening the vent valve of the high-pressured oxygen system, count to 10 before approaching the system again,” he advised.

Hydrogen was next on the list of discussions and Wolfgang Ott, from the Linde Group, proceeded with the Symposium agenda in his presentation of ‘Industrial hydrogen production: past, present and future’.

“In 1671 Robert Boyle discovered that a combustible gas is produced when metals react with acids. (But it wasn’t until) 1787 that Antoine Lavoisier named the gas ‘flammable air’ and later hydrogen – which is Greek meaning water and creator (Hydro and genes),” explained Ott.

He then charted the development in usage of the gas and how 96% of H2 production is based on fossil feedstock but Steam Methane Reforming (SMR) is the dominant process with modern SMR processes achieving high thermal efficiencies and covers the broadest capacity range at the lowest cost.

Ott continued by highlighting the potential future developments involving H2, including the production of renewable hydrogen through the use of renewable energy, excess electricity and biogenous pathways.

Praxair’s Jan Everaert highlighted the Seveso Directive as a driver of process safety. The Seveso regulation is currently in force through its second-generation directive, with the third-generation going live from June 2015. It applies to industrial facilities that store or handle hazardous substances – depending on the type of substance and quantity of it.

The goal of the Seveso is to prevent major accidents by settling requirements to safety management systems of Seveso sites.

The basic requirements of a Seveso is that a site operator (the company) has to take all necessary measures to prevent major accidents, limit consequences for man and environment, be able to prove this to authorities at any time, and guarantee a high level of protection.

Everaert explained some of the safety measures in our industry with an example of a tanker being filled with cryogenic liquid and presented the Bowtie Model – a diagram which on one side of the Bowtie has causes and preventative measures, the opposite side of the Bowtie has consequences and mitigating measures. The middle was a Loss of Contaminant (LOC).

He said, “Each path to an LOC is a scenario and needs to be evaluated,” and added in his conclusion that “all industrial gases companies have safety management systems (SMS).”

“The Seveso regulation has been, and still is a significant contributor to the performance level of those SMS.”

Raja Amirthalingam, from Air Liquide, gave his presentation on the ‘Scenarios for the future energy supplies’.

Focusing on the use of hydrogen, Amirthalingam discussed the use of the gas as an energy carrier and highlighted the benefits of using H2 as a fuel for vehicle propulsion rather than batteries – due to the differences in weight.

The European Hydrogen Roadmap, titled HyWays, states that a 2.5 million fleet of hydrogen vehicles should be available by 2020 in countries like Finland, Germany, Spain and the UK.

HyFLEET:CUTE was also highlighted. This is the project that was established to get hydrogen powered public transport into the infrastructure. The project cost €86m and has seen 33 fuel cell based buses in nine cities across Europe.

Amirthalingam concluded, “The best case scenario is the people and Government soon end the debate and accept hydrogen as the only solution for the future.”

“The worst case is the energy density for the batteries increases significantly and, therefore, hydrogen becomes unattractive.”

Next on the agenda was the subject of medical gases. Dr Peter Henseke, from the Linde Group, charted the changing faces of medicinal gases and the story behind the modern medicine of today. Lillemor Källrot, also from Linde, detailed the last decade in the regulatory field of medicinal gases.

Hervé Barthélémy, from Air Liquide, concluded this section of medical gases by describing the consideration that goes into what gas technology can be used to store certain medical gases.

He provided examples of incidents where hydrogen in a cylinder resulted in the gas penetrating the structure and causing hydrogen embrittlement. He also spoke of the reaction when acetylene gas is stored in a copper cylinder (of more than 70% copper) – explosions have occurred.

The 90th Anniversary of EIGA was brought to a close after the conclusions of the final segment for discussion in the agenda titled, people - the biggest threat to safety and the environment.

EIGA’s Summer Session will be held from June 6 to 8 in Dublin later this year.