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Air Separation


Air separation plants are gas plants producing different varieties of gases by the process of air separation.
Air separation plants produce the atmospheric industrial gases like oxygen, nitrogen, argon, helium,
methane using air and electrical power as raw materials.

Air Separation Technology

Though there are differences in process details displaying desired product mix and other factors, all air
separation plants make use one of the following two types of process technology:

Cryogenic plants: The air separation technique used in cryogenic plants produce gas and liquid
products (liquid oxygen, liquid nitrogen etc.) using very low temperature distillation which separates
air components and produce desired product purities.

Non-cryogenic plants: The air separation technique used in non cryogenic plants produce
gaseous products with near-ambient temperature separation processes. They use differences in
properties like molecular structure, size and mass to produce oxygen or nitrogen.

All manufacturers and suppliers involved with air separation plants deal with the design, fabrication, and
construction of both cryogenic and non-cryogenic air separation plants. The main focus of the market in
today's scenario is to supply independent operators of air separation systems with design, engineering, and
operations support. In some cases this involve actual project work, and in some other it means providing
design, engineering and supervision.

Capabilities of Air Separation Plants

Plant types offered by air separation plants include:
Oxygen non cryogenic plant
Oxygen cryogenic plant
Nitrogen PSA plant
Nitrogen cryogenic plant
Modular liquid and gaseous cryogenic/non cryogenic nitrogen generators
Modular liquid and gaseous cryogenic/non cryogenic oxygen generators
Large gaseous cryogenic nitrogen generators/ oxygen generators
Liquid plants producing liquid oxygen, nitrogen and argon

Air Separation Plant Design

The basic elements considered in the design of an air separation plant are:
Air Pretreatment
Air Compression
Besides that argon purification and/or product compression are also required. Air pretreatment systems
make use of either temperature swing or pressure swing adsorption technologies and usually efficient in
dealing with any environmental condition.

Buyer's Guide:Specifications of Air Separation Plants

Standard Type
Oxygen / Nitrogen Gas
Generating Plant

Main Products
Oxygen gas / 99.6%
Nitrogen gas / 99.9999%

Sec. Products
Liquid nitrogen,
liquid oxygen, argon,
neon, krypton, xenon

Low Pressure Liquid

Liquid Oxygen / 99.8%
Oxygen /Liquid Nitrogen Liquid nitrogen / 99.9999%
Generating Plant
High Purity Pressurized
Nitrogen gas / 99.9999%
Liquid nitrogen
Nitrogen Generating Plant

Uses of Air Separation Plants

Steel Industries
Non-steel Metal Industries
Power Generating Industries
Chemical &Petrochemical
Semiconductor Industries
Oil & Gas
Food & Beverage


Cryogenic Liquid Plant

Iron works, chemical,
partial oxidation

Industrial gas sales

Chemical, petroleum,
textiles, electronics industry

Welding Industries
Pulp & Paper
Industrial gas


Cryogenic Liquid
Equipment Required

Manufacturing process
Buyers Guide


Cryogenic liquid plants are gas plants producing liquid oxygen or liquid nitrogen in the cryogenic process.
Cryogenic process is one of the most popular technique used in many large scale gas plants for producing
purified oxygen or purified nitrogen. The output of liquid oxygen produced from the plant can be stored in a
liquid oxygen tank. Liquid nitrogen is produced as a by product simultaneously upto 99.999% purity. The
cryogenic plants are extremely versatile, safe and easy to operate and all the possible product variants that
are produced can be taken as either 100% liquid oxygen out put or 50% liquid oxygen output directly into
cylinders or 50% liquid nitrogen and 50% liquid oxygen.

What is Cryogenic Liquid?

A refrigerated, severely cold (-60C to -270C) and pressurized liquid gas. Under different conditions of
temperature and pressure, different cryogens become liquids. All cryogenic liquids have two features in
They are very very cold.
Small amounts of liquid can grow into very large volumes of gas.

Types of Cryogenic Liquid

Liquid nitrogen
Liquid oxygen
Liquid argon
Liquid helium
Manufacturing Process of Cryogenic Liquid in Cryogenic Plants.
Air is sucked by a multi stage air compressor and air passes through the following process.

Compression of air: This is accomplished by multistage highly efficient air compressor.

Purification of air: Purification of air is dome by an important component of the gas plant known
as process skid.

Cooling & liquification of air: A highly efficient expansion engine and a refrigeration unit (for

100% liquid output) are used for cooling and liquification.

Air separation (rectification): Air separation is done in an air separation unit consisting of
upper & lower column and special exchangers. The separation air is done by the cryogenic process
and the final output whether a liquid oxygen or liquid nitrogen or both goes to the storage tank.

Benefits of Cryogenic Liquid Plants

Besides producing pure liquid oxygen and nitrogen, cryogenic liquid plants are used directly in other
Hydrogen recovery
Hydrogen purification
Liquid petroleum gas (LPG) recovery from refinery off gas
Ethane and ethylene recovery
Purification of carbon monoxide
Nitrogen purification of ammonia syngas
Natural gas processing for recovering NGL and helium

Equipment required in Cryogenic Liquid Plants

Suction filter
Air compressor
Process skid
o After cooler with tank
o Nitrogen cooler with tank
o Moisture separator
o Chilling unit
o Oil absorber
o Molecular sieve battery
o Defrost heater
o Gas/Air/water line as per standard layout on skid
o Water pump
o Inlet & outlet water lines
Expansion engine
Air separation unit
Liquid oxygen pump
Cooling tower
Water softener
Buyer's Guide: Technical specifications
Capacity (Product Options):
o Oxygen liquid 100%, Nitrogen gas
o Oxygen liquid 50%, Oxygen gas 50%, Nitrogen gas
o Oxygen gas at 50%, Nitrogen liquid 50%, Nitrogen gas
Purity : Oxygen, nitrogen (optional upto 99.999%)
Power connected

Power consumed (abt.): 50% gas 50% liquid, 100% liquid

Power supply
Air capacity
Starting pressure
Working pressure (abt): 50% gas 50% liquid, 100% liquid
Starting time (after defrost)
Starting time (after tripping)
Areas required
Assembly height
Weight (about)
Air separation column

Cryogenic Nitrogen Plant



Cryogenic nitrogen plants are gas plants generating nitrogen using the cryogenic process. Cryogenic plants

using cryogenic temperature are used for production of liquid and gaseous nitrogen from atmospheric air.
While the cryogenic oxygen plants produce oxygen as the final product, nitrogen is also produced as a by
product in the process. However, there are independent gas plants producing nitrogen alone. In other words,
the cryogenic air separation units can produce both high purity nitrogen gas as a second product with
oxygen and as a prime product in nitrogen generators, where gas is the final output. Being a relative inert
gas, cryogenic nitrogen is used as a protective atmosphere to prevent oxidation.
Cryogenic nitrogen plants represent highly efficient equipment for large-scale nitrogen production with the
nitrogen purity of up to 95-99% pure nitrogen. In most cases the cryogenic technology of nitrogen production
proves economically feasible and are always considered more advantageous than membrane and
adsorption systems.

Specifications of Cryogenic Nitrogen Plants

A typical cryogenic plant has two modules-a cold box and an warm end container. The cold box consists of a
condenser, the rectification column and heat exchangers. The warm end container is usually equipped with
an air pre-treatment unit, an air compressor, electrical devices and a control system.
Typical specifications for a cryogenic nitrogen plant that a buyer should know without additional purification
and compression are:
Capacity: Output capacity
Purity: Nitrogen purity
Ambient temperature during operation and storage

The Cryogenic Process and Technology

The cryogenic process separates air by using means of rectification. This makes use of the different
evaporation temperatures of the air components. There are inlet filters in the pants which remove dust and
other impurities from the air before it enters the air compressor. Here the air is compressed to the required
process pressure. It is then pre-cooled. After moving through a moisture separator, the air enters one of two
molecular adsorbers, where impurities are removed. Here, one adsorber is always effective while the other
is being regenerated by residual gas from the separation process.
The processed air is then cooled at a liquefaction temperature in the main heat exchanger and then fed into
the bottom of the rectification column. The pure nitrogen fraction is removed from the top column, then fed
into the product line. Cold is supplied in the form of liquid nitrogen (LIN) from the back-up system. This is
regenerated with an expansion turbine. The pure nitrogen is stored in cylinders or storage tanks and then

Flow diagram

Applications of Cryogenic Nitrogen Plants

Chemical and petrochemical industry
o Inerting/purging
o Catalyst regeneration
o Metallurgy/Glass industry
o Heat treatment
o Refining
o Purging
o Inerting
Electronic industry
o Purging
o Inerting
o Packaging
o Air Drying
Food Industry
o packaging
o Inerting
Oil and gas industry
o Nitrogen fire fighting
o Pipe-lines blowing
o Air drying
o Pressure testing
o Technological tanks cleaning

Cryogenic Oxygen Plant

Cryogenic Oxygen

The process
Buyers Guide

Oxygen Grades

Cryogenic oxygen plants are oxygen generating plants in the cryogenic process. We all know that there are
basically two processes used in gas plants to produce pure oxygen-one is the cryogenic process and the
other is the non cryogenic process.

While the cryogenic process is suitable for large scale gas plants as well small sized gas plants, the non
cryogenic process involving the PSA technique is more suitable for small sized plants. Cryogenic gas plants
are suitable for producing oxygen for industrial and medical uses and available in large, bulky sizes and also
small sized cylinders. In other words, cryogenic oxygen plants are available in low purity which is
approximately 95% and high purity which is almost 99.6+%. There are oxygen-only plants, and multi-product
configurations like oxygen, nitrogen, argon etc.

What is Cryogenic Oxygen?

Cryogenic oxygen is oxygen in liquid state and it is very cold. In cryogenic oxygen plants, oxygen is
produced, stored and maintained in a liquid state at a substantially constant pressure.

The Cryogenic Process

Commercial oxygen produced in cryogenic gas plants use the cryogenic distillation process originally
developed in 1895. This cryogenic process produces oxygen that is 99+% pure. The steps involved are as

The air is compressed using a multi-stage compressor, which is then passed through a watercooled after cooler to condense any water. Before compression, air is pretreated to remove
impurities. Once the impurities are removed, the air is submitted to fractional distillation, where the
components are separated in several stages. In the cryogenic process, a cryogenic section is
required to provide the low temperatures required to liquefy the gas components. Once the liquid
oxygen is separated, it is purified and stored.

The air passes through a molecular sieve adsorber, containing zeolite and silica gel-type
adsorbents. These adsorbents adsorbs the carbon dioxide, heavier hydrocarbons, and any
remaining traces of water vapor.


Air is separated into its major components in this step. The portion of the pretreated air is diverted
through a compressor, where its pressure is cooled and allowed to expand to nearly atmospheric
pressure. This expansion rapidly cools the air using the cryogenic technique.

The air stream which is part liquid and part gas enters the base of the high-pressure fractionating or
distillation column. As the air moves up the column, it loses additional heat. The oxygen continues
to liquefy, leading to the formation of oxygen-rich mixture in the bottom of the column, and other
gases like nitrogen and argon flow to the top as a vapor. The oxygen at the top is the liquid oxygen
mixture, also known as crude liquid oxygen, which is almost 99.5%.

The oxygen at the bottom is about 99.5% pure. Newer cryogenic distillation units are used to recover more
of the argon/nitrogen from the low-pressure distillation column, and this improves the oxygen purity to about
99.8%. If higher purity is needed, additional fractionating columns may be added to further refine the oxygen
The purified cryogenic oxygen produced is distributed to the end users in gas pipelines from nearby air
separation plants or transported in cylinders and storage tanks to specified destinations. It is transported in
large, insulated tanks, usually made of two shells and the air is evacuated between the inner and outer shell
to obstruct heat loss.

Diagrammatic representation

Oxygen Grades at Cryogenic Oxygen Plants

The Compressed Gas Association, formed in USA with the intention to work for the development and
promotion of safety standards and safe practices in the industrial gas industry, establishes grading
standards for both gaseous oxygen and liquid oxygen. These standards are based on the amount and type
of impurities present.
Gas grades are called Type I and range from A to F. The grade A stands for 99.0% pure and grade F stands
for 99.995% pure. Liquid grades are called Type II. These also range from A to F. However, the types and
amounts of impurities in liquid grades are different from the gas grades. The most commonly produced
grades of oxygen are Type I Grade B and Grade C and Type II Grade C which is 99.5% pure. They are used
in steel making and in the manufacture of synthetic chemicals.

Applications of Cryogenic Oxygen


Glass industry
Metal fabrication
Pulp and paper industry
Chemical industry
Waste water treatment.

Equipment required in cryogenic oxygen plants

Suction Filter
Air Compressor
After Cooler
Chilling Unit
Oil Absorber
Moisture Separator
Molecular Sieve Battery
Expansion Engine
Air Separation Column
Liquid Oxygen Pumps
Buyer's guide
Size: Large,

Medium, Small,

Air Capacity
Power Connected

Power Consumed

Power Supply
Starting pressure
Working Pressure
Areas Required
Assembly Height
Air Separation Column

Hydrogen Plants

Manufacturing Process
Biological Process

Hydrogen from Fossil Fuels

Ammonia Cracking

Hydrogen from Renewables


Buyer's Guide
Bound in organic matter and in water, hydrogen constitutes almost 75% of the earth's surface and hence the
most abundant of all the chemical elements. Hydrogen gas plants, available in small as well as in large
tonnage sizes, are hydrogen generating systems, used widely as a fuel and in various industrial purposes.
For many manufacturers and suppliers dealing with gas plants, supplying hydrogen gas plants involve
conceptual design, procurement, detailed engineering, fabrication, construction, start-up, including
distribution and operator training.

Manufacturing Process of Hydrogen

There are a wide range of sources by which hydrogen in produced in gas plants, which we are discussing
Hydrogen from Fossil Fuels

Steam Reforming:

A very common method of producing hydrogen, steam reforming implied the use of thermal energy
which helps in separating hydrogen from the carbon components in methane and methanol. In other
words a hydrocarbon gas like methane (CH4) is combined with steam at high temperatures and
pressures in the presence of a catalyst which in turn produces hydrogen and CO 2
The hydrogen produced is used in the manufacturing of fertilizers, chemicals and also in the
improvement of the quality of petroleum products. This is considered to be the most cost effective
method of producing hydrogen.

Partial Oxidation:

Another process of producing hydrogen from fossil fuels is by the process of reaction of heavier
hydrocarbons like coal, oil, and some biomass products with steam.

Hydrogen from Renewables

When we talk about renewable energy, it implies the energy derived from energy sources like wave, wind,
solar, tidal etc. which is naturally replenished and cannot be exhausted. Different processes used in
renewable energy to produce hydrogen is discussed below:

By separating the elements of water-H and oxygen (O)-by charging water with an electrical current
is referred to as electrolysis and this is one popular method of producing hydrogen. Adding an
electrolyte like salt helps in making better the conductivity of the water and increases the efficiency
of the process. The chemical bond between the hydrogen and oxygen breaks with the electric
charge and separates the atomic components, which create charged particles called ions. The ions
are of two types-the anode, which is positively charged, and the cathode, which is negatively
charged. The anode attracts oxygen and hydrogen gathers at the cathode.

Steam Electrolysis

A variation of the conventional electrolysis process, in steam electrolysis, instead of electricity the
energy needed to split the water is added as heat. At 2500 degree C, water decomposes into hydrogen
and oxygen, making the process more efficient than conventional electrolysis. This heat can also be
provided by a solar energy.
Biological Processes
The third process involved in producing hydrogen is the biological and photobiological process. Here
different types of algae and bacteria are used to produce hydrogen through photosynthesis or fermentation.
The pigments in certain types of algae under certain conditions absorb solar energy. The enzyme in the cell
acts as a medium to split the water molecules. The organisms in turn produce hydrogen.

Photoelectrochemical Processes
There are two types of electrochemical systems to produce hydrogen in photoelectrochemical processes.
One uses soluble metal complexes. Similar to photosynthesis, in this process, when the complex dissolves,
it absorbs solar energy and produces an electrical charge that drives the water splitting reaction. In the other
method which uses semi conducting electrodes in a photochemical cell, the optical energy is converted into
chemical energy.

Ammonia Cracking
Another method used for the production of hydrogen is ammonia cracking process. This process is highly
recommendable in conditions where ammonia is used as a raw material, nitrogen does not function as an
impurity & hydrogen is used as a reducing atmosphere

Applications of Hydrogen Gas Plants

Refinery & Petrochemicals: Petroleum and petrochemical manufacturers require a reliable

supply of high-quality hydrogen for their operations.

Oils Hydrogenation: Hydrogenation of sugars, natural oils is very important in the production of

a variety of consumer goods like cooking oils, sweeteners, and cleaning products.
Metals Heat Treating: A hydrogen-containing atmosphere is required in many metals heat

treating processes require to produce a high quality finished part.

Glass Manufacturing: It is very essential to have a stable and consistent hydrogen supply in

meeting the strict product quality standards in the float glass industry.
Electronics:Due to the sensitivity in electronics manufacturing, on-site gas plants producing

hydrogen provides several benefits over alternative solutions.

Transportation Refueling: As the demand for alternative energy sources increases, the ability

to produce hydrogen fuel economically is becoming increasingly important.

Welding: Hydrogen gas is required for welding and cutting.
Chemical Industry: Hydrogen gas acts as synthesis gas for ammonia synthesis in the chemical

Paper & Textiles

Steel Industry
Fuel Cells

Buyer's Guide
Things to know before purchasing hydrogen gas plants are

Hydrogen purity
Produced gas pressure

Fire hazard

Plant size
Process description
Plant description
Plant control instruments

Plant performances

Nitrogen Plant

Cryogenic Process

Non cryogenic process



Buyers Guide

Nitrogen gas plants are nitrogen generating system which can be small, portable size to large tonnage gas
plants, like oxygen plants, used for refining, chemical processing and other applications. Infact, in almost all
oxygen plants, nitrogen is also produced at the same time.

Nitrogen (N2) constitutes 78.03% of the atmosphere and the gas plants are there to extract nitrogen in its
pure form to be used for various industrial purposes. Nitrogen can be produced in liquid and gaseous form
simultaneously and both cryogenic and non cryogenic processes are used to produce nitrogen. While the
cryogenic process is preferred for large scale gas plants, the non cryogenic process (PSA, VPSA, nitrogen
membrane) is preferred for small sized plants. The process of producing oxygen and nitrogen is same in all
gas plants.

Five Step Process for the Manufacture of Nitrogen (Cryogenic Process)

Air Compression: The first step is drawing of air from the atmosphere through suction sir filter
and this obstructs dust from getting into the system

Air Purification: The next process is the purification of the air. Firstly, the air is cooled in an

evaporating cooler. Dry Nitrogen will be bubbled through the water in the cooler to become wet gas.
As the water vaporizes, latent heat is absorbed and water gets cooled. Compressed air, cooled in
the cooler will pass through a Moisture Separator or Molecular Sieve vessels. Moisture , dust
impurities are adsorbed and the gas is passed to the chilling unit for cooling.
Air Cooling: The compressed air, which is purified from moisture and impurities, enter the cold

It initially passes through a Heat Exchanger No.1 and the incoming air will be cooled by the
outgoing Oxygen and Nitrogen. The air will be cooled to around -100 degree C and this air is
divided into two streams -the main air stream which enters Expansion Engine and the rest of the air
will pass through Heat Exchanger No. 2 to be cooled to about -160 degree C. As the air enters the
lower column, a part of this air condenses into liquid and falls at the bottom of the column. This

liquid is about 60% nitrogen and 40% oxygen and known as the "Rich Liquid". As nitrogen is more
volatile it rises to top of the lower column and it becomes liquefied because of the cold it gets from
the condenser.
Air Separation: Final separation is attained in the upper column. As the rich liquid entering the

middle of the upper column flows down, nitrogen evaporates and oxygen continues as liquid. The
liquid nitrogen which is also known as the poor liquid enters the top of the column and while flowing
down, it comes in contact with any evaporating Oxygen and condenses the same into liquid.
Nitrogen being volatile becomes a gas. The entire gaseous nitrogen is piped out through heat
exchangers from the top of the column. Generally the purity of Oxygen will be 99.5% and Nitrogen
about 96%, when the plant is operated exclusively for oxygen production.
Filling of Liquid /Gas Nitrogen: The last step is the filling of purified nitrogen into pumps and
cylinders .

Non Cryogenic Manufacturing Process

PSA Process
Using molecular sieves separation technique, the nitrogen generator produces nitrogen gas from
atmospheric air. The PSA process for nitrogen generation is similar to that of oxygen but carbon molecular
sieve (CMS) is used instead of zeolite molecular sieve (ZMS). Due to the adsorption properties of CMS, it is
possible to produce nitrogen by charging two adsorber vessels with compressed air one after the other.
While one vessel adsorbs, the other vessel is used in regenerating by pressure reduction. In other words,
when compressed air is passed, nitrogen comes out as product gas from one vessel while the other vessel
is simultaneously regenerated by de-pressurisation to atmospheric pressure.
Membrane Nitrogen System
By using membrane technology, compressed air is provided from air compressor to separate nitrogen from
air. A feed air cleaning system is available in the membrane separator to provide clean air, free from solid
particles, oil and water droplets. The clean air will lead to higher efficiency nitrogen production and ensure

Equipment required in Nitrogen Plants

Air compressor system
Moisture separator
N2 Separation Membrane Modules

N2 Gas Tanks

Air filter

Nitrogen pressure and flow regulator

Standard Applications of Nitrogen Gas Plants

Chemical Manufacturing (Material Transfer, Blanketing)
Electronics (Storage, Wave Soldering, Furnace Application)

Food Processing
Food Packaging
Laser Cutting
Tire Filling
Plastics (Injection Molding)
Pharmaceuticals (Packaging, Blanketing)
Heat Treatment (Ferrous & Non-Ferrous Metals)

Types of Nitrogen Plants

Depending on the manufacturing process, nitrogen plants can be classified as follows:

Membrane Nitrogen Plants: The most automated gas plants designed for production of
nitrogen from atmospheric air.

Adsorption Nitrogen Plants: Automated systems designed for gaseous nitrogen production
from air.

Cryogenic Nitrogen Plants: These are cryogenic temperatures based plants designed for

production of liquid and gaseous nitrogen from atmospheric air.

Mobile Nitrogen Stations: Mobile stations used for air-to-nitrogen production are specially
designed for operation in various climatic zones. Mobile nitrogen compressor stations: These are
self-operated and carried nitrogen compressor stations for high-pressure nitrogen recovery.

Buyer's guide
Technical specifications to consider for purchasing nitrogen gas plants are

Size: Large, Medium, Small, Portable

Capacity: Pressure
Power Consumed
Power Supply
Power Connected
Starting pressure

Working Pressure

Oxygen Plant

Air Capacity
Starting Time (After Defrost)
Starting Time (After Tripping)
Areas Required
Assembly Height

Air Separation Column

Cryogenic Process

PSA process

Buyers Guide

Oxygen plants are cost effective and safe oxygen producing system that range from small portable units to
large sized gas plants. The main purpose of oxygen plants is to produce industrial and medical oxygen up to
99.9% purity. The oxygen gas plants are used to serving markets for bottling cylinders, brazing of metals,
industrial gas cutting of steel, production of steel glass and ampule industry, used in petrochemical industry,
oil & gas industry, animal husbandry and used for fabrication.

The oxygen plant units commonly operate according to cryogenic technology which is the preferred
technique for large sized plants or through non cryogenic technology-PSA/VPSA/VSA (Pressure swing
adsorption/Vacuum pressure swing adsorption/Vacuum swing adsorption), preferable for small and medium
sized plants. However, it is basically the specifics of the application which decide which technology will be
most economical. The oxygen plant can also be used to produce nitrogen and argon from the air at the
same time. These oxygen plants can be designed as per their application requirements or as per the
specifications of customers.

Manufacturing Process (Cryogenic Process)

The process of producing oxygen in oxygen gas plants involves the following steps:

Step 1: Compression of atmospheric air

In the first stage of the production process, the free saturated air is sucked from atmosphere with the help of
a highly efficient dry-type suction filter or an air compressor.

Step 2: Purification of air

The next step involves the cleaning of air by removing moisture, oil traces, carbondioxide and other impure
products in the process air. In the cryogenic technology, the compressed air is chilled in a chilling unit and

transfered to a moisture separator where the condensed moisture gets separated before entering into
Molecular Sieve Battery. Before that the air is passed through an oil absorber to remove oil.
Step 3: Cooling of air
The process air before liquefication in the gas plant is cooled to below-zero temperature (cryogenic). After
pre cooling, the main portion of the process air enters the expansion engine through the heat exchanger .
The temperature of the air further drops down, somewhere about -165 deg C by the expander. Rest of air
enters into a highly efficient expansion engine, where the air is cooled further down to (-150) deg C before
entering into bottom column. The liquefied air collected at the bottom column from both these streams is
known as "rich liquid".
Step 4: Separation of air
After the colling, the air enters the air separation unit where the air is converted into liquid air by deep
cooling at low or cryogenic temperatures and is separated into liquid oxygen and nitrogen.

Step 5: Filling of oxygen

The final stage in the process is the transport of liquid oxygen from the condenser to the cryogenic liquid
oxygen pump for filling gas cylinders.

Manufacturing process (PSA process)

PSA technology is another technique used in producing oxygen but it is preferred for small sized or portable
plants. The technique is based on the selective adsorption process of gas molecules under pressure on the
surface of highly porous and efficient adsorbent, usually zeolite based molecular sieve. In PSA System,
when compressed air is passed through zeolite based molecular sieve, the molecules of oxygen, moisture &
other impure gases are adsorbed on the surface and oxygen which is not adsorbed comes out.

Equipment Required in Oxygen Plants

Molecular Battery
Pressure Skid
Chilling Unit
Oil Adsorber

Gas Compressor

Types of Oxygen Plants

Depending on the manufacturing process, oxygen plants can be classified as follows:

Adsorption Oxygen Plants: High-performance gas plants developed for oxygen production
from atmospheric air and cylinder filling.

Membrane Oxygen Plants: Fully automated membrane gas plants specially developed for air

Cryogenic Oxygen Plants: Gas plants for deep air freezing specially designed to produce both

liquid and gaseous oxygen from air.

Mobile Oxygen Stations: These are transportable gas stations used to deploy a complete
oxygen production cycle with the cylinder filling option.

Application of Oxygen Plant

The basic property of oxygen is that it makes combustion possible, and it is this property which makes it
highly usable in various industrial applications. Being the largest volume industrial gas, oxygen plants are
used in the following industries :
Petroleum Recovery and Refining
Chemical Industry
Steel Manufacturing Industry
Pulp and Paper Industry
Glass Manufacturing
Fabrication industry
Medical industry

Buyer's Guide
Technical specifications to consider for purchasing oxygen gas plants are:

Size: Large, Medium, Small,

Capacity: Oxygen Pressure (upto)
Power Connected
Power Consumed
Power Supply

Working Pressure
Starting Time (After Defrost)
Starting Time (After
Areas Required
Assembly Height

Air Capacity

Air Separation Column

PSA Oxygen Gas Plant



VPSA unit

PSA oxygen gas plants are plants producing oxygen using the PSA process. Oxygen is used for various
industrial applications and hence needs to be produced in large volumes. There are usually two methods to
do this: cryogenic process and the PSA process. The PSA technology has today emerged as a very popular
technique for the production of commercial production of oxygen gas and suited for both small and medium
sized units. The PSA process is very useful for small applications like oxygen production for asthma

What is PSA?
PSA stands for pressure swing adsorption. It is dependent on air being filtered through aluminosilicate
minerals, called as zeolites. In the PSA process, nitrogen gas is adsorbed into the zeolites and oxygen (and
argon) pass through. It is a technology in which some gas species are separated from a mixture of gases
under pressure. The PSA technique is very environment friendly and can also remove other gases such as
carbon dioxide from industrial waste gas streams.

The process

Compression of feed air and conditioning: Using an air compressor, the ambient air gets
compresses, dried by an air dryer and then filtered before entering the process vessels.

Adsorption: The next step in the PSA process of producing oxygen is the adsorption process.

The process removes impurities and produces almost 100% pure oxygen. The pre-treated air
passes through a vessel filled with Zeolite Molecular Sieve (ZMS). Here nitrogen and other gases
gets adsorbed and most of the oxygen pass and this continues till ZMS is fully exhausted.
Desorption: The saturated ZMS is regenerated. This is done by pressure reduction, using a

simple pressure release system. This is after the adsorption process. The waste stream moves into
atmosphere. While regenerated adsorbent is purged with oxygen. This is again used for the
generation of oxygen.
Receiver: The adsorption and desorption process take place at equal time intervals, and there is
continuous generation of oxygen. By using a connected oxygen receiver, a constant product flow
and purity is maintained, which can store the oxygen with purities up to 95%. Finally, the plant
produces a constant flow of on-site produced oxygen.

Features of PSA Oxygen Plants

Usually the design of PSA oxygen plants rely on many factors like:
Zeolite bed packing
Bed length
Rate of infeed air
In medical oxygen PSA plants, power efficiency is not given much preference compared to robustness,
process stability and oxygen purity. In large sized PSA plants, the PSA process is only cost effective while
operating at maximum separation efficiency.

VPSA Oxygen Plant Unit

Using VPSA (vacuum pressure swing adsorption), oxygen is produced in small demands for various
applications. A typical VPSA unit is shown below:

Benefits of Psa Plants

Compared to other processes used in gas plants, the PSA process has certain benefits:
High operational efficiency
Lowers power costs
Full safety

No hazards involved as with bulky gas cylinders

Low pressure drops
High output pressures
Independent on-site production

Applications of PSA Oxygen Plants

Steel industry
Pulp and paper industry
Glass and enamel industry
Drinking water supply
Chemical industry
Biotechnology industry
Waste water treatment and waste disposal ind

What is cryogenic gas

Cryogenic gas plants have today emerged in the current market scenario as the most efficient and cost
effective technology of producing and distributing pure gases like oxygen and nitrogen. The technology is
perfect for large sized gas plants. The best feature of these gas plants is that they can produce liquid
Cryogenic gases are liquefied gases at standard temperature and pressure. They are kept in their liquid
state at very low temperatures. The word "cryogenics" in English means "the production of icy cold".
Cryogenics in physics means the study of the production of extremely low temperatures (below -150 C,
-238 F or 123 K). Thus cryogenic gas is a gas which has been supercooled such that it is a liquid or solid at
a standard temperature.
Cryogenic materials include the liquids argon, nitrogen, oxygen and helium, and solid carbon dioxide (dry
ice). Carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, which usually have slightly higher boiling points are also included in
the category of cryogenic gas. One of the most commonly used element in cryogenics is Liquid nitrogen.
Liquid helium is also used. Infact liquid helium allows for the lowest attainable temperature to be reached. It
is to be noted that all types of cryogenic liquids are gases at normal temperatures and pressures. These
gases are then cooled below room temperature and this should be done before an increase in pressure can
liquefy them. Under different conditions of temperature and pressure, different cryogens become liquids.
However all cryogen liquids have two common properties:
They are very cold.

A little quantity of liquid can expand into very large volumes of gas.

Cryogenic gases are very popular and they are used as fuels, oxidizers and refrigerants. These gases are to
be stored properly to get their maximum usage. In poorly insulated containers, it is very likely that some
cryogenic gases actually condense the surrounding air, forming a liquid air mixture. That is the reason they
should be held in special containers like Dewar flasks, which are generally about 1.8 m (6 feet tall) and 91.5
cm (3 feet) in diameter. For commercial applications they are stored in giant tanks. In museums, cryogenic
gas is stored in smaller vacuum flasks fitted in a protective casing. There are cryogenic transfer pumps used
on LNG piers. These pumps are used to transfer Liquefied Natural Gas from LNG Carriers to LNG storage
Cryogenic gas also has some hazards associated with it like as they may be flammable, as in Hydrogen,
LPG or they may be oxidizers, as in Fluorine, Oxygen and hence they must be carefully used.

A quick recap
Cryogenic gas is a gas formed at very low temperature (below 150C).
Commonly used cryogenic materials is liquid nitrogen and liquid helium.
The gas is produced through a process of compression and cooling.
Used widely as a fuel and also refrigerant.
Everyone who works with cryogenic gas must know their hazards.

Everyone should know how to work safely with the

Types of Cryogenic Gases

Cryogenic technology is the process of producing gas and liquid products by using low temperature
refinement so as to disunite air components and receive the required product. The cryogenic process is
considered as the most cost effective separation process. Cryogenic technology is widely preferred for
producing high purity products at high production rates.
Each cryogenic gas has its own specific properties. However all cryogenic gases can be classified into one
of three groups:
Flammable Gases
Liquid Oxygen
Inert Gases

Flammable Gases
Flammable gases are those gas which burn in air. The flammable gas usually fall in the following statistics:
Boiling point at 20 C (68 F) or less, ignitable at 101.3 kPa (14.7 psi) when in a mixture of 13% or less by
volume with air. The most common examples of flammable gas can be classified in to two groups:
High pressure cylinders: Hydrogen, Carbon monoxide, Methane, Natural gas
Liquefied or dissolved gases under pressure: LPG, Acetylene

Liquid Oxygen
Comprising 20.8% by volume, oxygen is the second largest component of the atmosphere. Used primarily in
the aerospace, submarine and gas industry, liquid oxygen (LOX) is the liquid form of oxygen, which is pale
blue in color and extremely cold. Liquid oxygen has a boiling point of -297.3F (-183.0C). Liquid oxygen is
non inflammable but being a strong oxidizer many non-combustible materials can burn in the presence of
liquid oxygen. Because there is the need of difference in temperature between the product and the
surrounding environment even in the winter, keeping liquid oxygen insulated from the encompassing heat is
essential. Hence, liquid oxygen requires special equipment for handling and storage. Some popular storage
systems are a cryogenic storage tank, a pressure control system, vaporizers, and all piping necessary for
the vaporization, fill, and supply functions.

Inert gases
Inert gases are those type of gases that are non reactive under normal circumstances. They do not react
chemically. Because of this property of inert gases, they are used to prevent undesirable chemical reactions
from taking place. They are also non flammable and non toxic. They are found basically in the atmosphere
and are extracted by cooling air to a very cold temperature. There are different types of inert gases like
nitrogen, helium, neon, argon and krypton. Argon is supposed to be the most prevalent of all inert gases
while xenon is the rare inert gas. Helium and neon are considered to be the true elemental inert gases
because they do not form any true chemical compounds. Carbon dioxide and nitrogen, though not inert in
the true sense, also fall into the category of inert gases.
The following table displays some statistics regarding the various inert gases:


Atomic number Boiling pt.

(degree C)

Amt. in
available pressureatmosphere




5.2 PPM





18.2 PPM





7600 PPM





1.1 PPM

A quick recap


The main types of cryogenic gas are:

Carbon monoxide
Natural gas




Liquid oxygen

Storing of Cryogenic Gas

Cryogenic gases are needed to be stored in special containers, which are usually thermally insulated
containers, specifically designed to bear rapid temperature changes and extreme differences in temperature.
Usually the containers are designed in such a way so that they have few of the features as given in the
figure below:

Storage containers
Some of the popular storage containers of cryogenic gases are as follows:

Dewar flasks

Dewar flask, named after its inventor Sir James Dewar in 1892, is a non-pressurized, vacuum-jacketed
vessels, having a loose fitting plug or cap to prevent air and moisture from entering. At the same time, such
flasks allow excess pressure to vent. Dewar Flasks are also known as vacuum flasks. The vacuum is used
for thermal insulation.
The gas inside is not in vacuum conditions. These flasks maintain cryogenic gases at a temperature higher
or lower than ambient temperature. Dewar flasks containing hydrogen, argon, oxygen, helium, and other
low-boiling liquids have an outer vessel of liquid nitrogen for insulation. Dewar flasks are available in various
sizes. There are laboratory liquid dewar flasks which do not have lids or covers but wide-mouthed openings,
in small sizes used in laboratories for temporary storage.
Cryogenic Liquid Cylinders
Also known as liquid containers, cryogenic liquid cylinders are portable vacuum-insulated pressurized
containers, specifically designed for cryogenic liquids. The liquid cylinders are an easy and economical
means of storing, transporting, and dispensing liquefied gases. These cylinders have valves for filling and

dispensing the cryogenic liquid. As a backup protection these cylinders also have pressure-control valves
with a frangible or bursting disk.
There are three main types of cryogenic liquid cylinders which are designed for storing:
Only liquid
Only gas
Liquid or gas
Liquid cylinders have two primary advantages:
At relatively low pressure compared to compressed gas cylinders, these cryogenic cylinders can

hold a large volume of gas.

These cylinders are an easy source of cryogenic liquid that can be easily handled.

Cryogenic products that are stored in liquid cylinders are:



Nitrous oxide
Carbon dioxide


While nitrogen, argon, oxygen, helium, hydrogen are stored in their liquid states, nitrous oxide and carbon
dioxide are kept as refrigerated liquids, but at higher temperature and pressure. These cylinders are well
insulated but at times the extremely low temperatures of the cryogenic liquids can lead to constant heat leak
and vaporization. The cryogenic product when not used will lead to pressure in the cylinder and often vent
via the container's pressure relief device. However, this is a normal and safe function of the cylinder.

Tanks are large double-walled, insulated storage tank, spherical or cylindrical in shape used for storing
cryogenic liquids or gases. Tanks are large storing containers for cryogenic gases, capacities ranging from
approximately hundreds of gallons to thousands of barrels. They are designed in such a way so that they
can be easily mounted in fixed locations as stationary vessels or on truck chassis or railroad car for easy
transportation. The pressure inside the tank is kept normal. The space between inner and outer surface is
vacuum and there are safety relief valves to protect the tanks.

Some useful tips to consider for storing and transporting cryogenic liquids:

Ensure that all incoming containers are not damaged before storing.

Always use the correct name for all products. For instance, you should never call "liquid oxygen" as

"liquid air". Or if the oxygen is in a mixture of other gases, refer to it as "oxygen mixture" or
"medium purity liquid oxygen".
Dewar flasks should always be kept covered with a loose fitting cap. This helps in preventing air or

moisture from entering the container and at the same time allows pressure to escape.
Make use of only the plug or stopper supplied with the container.
Glass dewar flasks should not be used to store combustible or oxidizing cryogenic liquids.
Never let ice form in the neck of flasks.
Do not store containers in those areas where they have a chance to come in contact with moisture.

Ensure that storing vessels are insulated from any sources of heat.
Do not store liquid oxygen containers on asphalt, oil soaked gravel or wood.
It is better to use concrete or clean gravel under storage areas.
Store all cryogenic liquid containers in well-ventilated areas.
Handle liquid cylinders carefully by avoiding rolling, dropping or tipping them on their sides.
When transferring cryogenic liquids from one flask to another, always cool the receiving dewar flask

before filling it.

Start filling liquids slowly so as to allow the vaporization to chill the receiving container. After the

liquid boiling and vaporization have declined, fill the container at the normal rate.
Use an appropriate filling device when pouring cryogenic liquids.
Fill storage containers only with liquids they are designed to hold.

A quick recap
All cryogenic products must be properly stored and transported.The containers should be
designed in such a way so that they can bear rapid temperature changes and also
differences in temperature. That is why most containers are thermally insulated. Some of
the popular storage containers used for storing cryogenic gases are as follows:
Liquid dewar flasks
Laboratory liquid dewar flasks
Liquid cylinders


Cryogenic Air Separation

Cryogenic Air Seperation

Air Separation Steps

A quick recap

Flow diagram

Cryogenic air separation process is one of the most popular air separation process, used frequently in
medium to large scale plants. It is the most preferred technology for producing nitrogen, oxygen, and argon
as gases and/ or liquid products and supposed to be the most cost effective technology for high production
rate plants. In today's market scenario, all liquefied industrial gas production plants make use of cryogenic
technology to produce liquid products.

What is cryogenic air separation process?

Cryogenic air separation is a process to produce highly purified gases or liquids and it is done by taking
large volumes of air from the atmosphere, which is then compressed, cooled, liquefied. This is then
separated into its major components by distillation. After the air is compressed, impurities must be removed.
There are different variations arising from differences in user requirements in the cryogenic air separation
cycles to produce industrial gas products. The cycle of processing depends on:

How many products are required (whether simply oxygen or nitrogen, both oxygen and nitrogen, or
nitrogen, oxygen and argon).

Required purities of the products.

Gaseous product delivery pressures.
Lastly whether the products need to be stored in liquid form.

In the cryogenic gas processing, various equipment is used like the distillation columns, heat exchangers,
cold interconnecting piping etc. which operate at very low temperatures and hence must be well insulated.
These items are located inside sealed "cold boxes". Cold boxes are tall structures with either round or
rectangular cross section. Depending on plant type, size and capacity, cold boxes may have a height of 15
to 60 meters and 2 to 4 meters on a side.

Cryogenic air separation flow diagram

The cryogenic air separation flow diagram given below does not represent any particular plant and shows in
a general way many of the important steps involved in producing oxygen, nitrogen, and argon as both gas
and liquid products.

Steps in Cryogenic Air Separation

First Step: The first step in any cryogenic air separation plant is filtering and compressing air.
After filtration the compressed air is cooled to reach approximately ambient temperature by passing
through air-cooled or water-cooled heat exchangers. In some cases it is cooled in a mechanical
refrigeration system to a much lower temperature. This leads to a better impurity removal, and also
minimizing power consumption, causing less variation in plant performance due to changes in
atmospheric temperature seasonally. After each stage of cooling and compression, condensed
water is removed from the air.

Second Step: The second step is removing the remaining carbon dioxide and water vapor, which

must always be removed to satisfy product quality specifications. They are to be removed before
the air enters the distillation portion of the plant. The portion is that where the very low temperature
can make the water and carbon dioxide to freeze which can be deposited on the surfaces within the
process equipment. There are two basic methods to get rid of water vapor and carbon dioxide molecular sieve units and reversing exchangers.
Third Step: The third step in the cryogenic air separation is the transfer of additional heat against

product and waste gas so as to bring the air feed to cryogenic temperature. The cooling is usually
done in brazed aluminum heat exchangers. They let the heat exchange between the incoming air
feed and cold product and waste gas streams leave the air separation process. The very cold
temperatures required for distillation of cryogenic products are formed by a refrigeration process
comprising expansion of one or more elevated pressure process streams.
Fourth Step: This step involves the use of distillation columns to separate the air into desired
products. For example, the distillation system for oxygen has both "high" and "low" pressure
columns. Nitrogen plants can have one or two column. While oxygen leaves from the bottom of the
distillation column, nitrogen leaves from the top. Argon has a boiling point similar to that of oxygen
and it stays with oxygen. If however high purity oxygen is needed, it is necessary that at an
intermediate point argon must be removed from the distillation system. Impure oxygen produced in
the higher pressure distillation column is further purified in the lower pressure column. Plants which
produce high purity oxygen, nitrogen or other cryogenic gases require more distillation stages.

Fifth Step: The fifth step involves refrigeration which is formed at cryogenic temperature levels.
Refrigerations compensate for imperfect heat exchange and for heat leak into the cold equipment.
The refrigeration cycle is almost similar like the one used in home and automobile air conditioning
systems. One or more elevated pressure streams are reduced in pressure, which chills the stream.
To maximize chilling, the pressure expansion or reduction takes place inside an expander. Gaseous
products usually come out from the plant at relatively low pressures. In general, the lower the
delivery pressure, the higher the plant efficiency. It is always cost effective to produce the cryogenic
gas at low pressure and use a blower or compressor to achieve required delivery and gaseous
storage pressures.

A quick recap
Cryogenic air separation process depends in boiling points differences to separate and
purify products. All cryogenic processes include these steps:
Filtering and compressing air.
Removing the contaminants.
Cooling the air to very low temperature.
Distilling the air to produce desired products.

Warming in heat exchangers gaseous products and waste streams that also cool
the incoming air stream

Cryogenic Gas Hazards

Health hazards of cyrogenic gases

Extreme Cold Hazard: Cryogenic gases, liquids, vapors can become so cold that they cause
injuries equivalent to third degree burns or a thermal burn. Brief exposures may not affect the face's
or hands' skin but can damage delicate tissues like the eyes. Continuous breathing of extremely
cold air can damage the lungs. Prolonged contact of the skin with cold surfaces can cause frostbite,
which leads to intense pain when frozen tissue thaws. The skin when not protected can stick to
metal that is cooled by cryogenic liquids and when pulled away the skin can tear. Even non-metallic
materials become very dangerous to touch at very low temperatures.

Asphyxiation: A cryogenic gas will displace large quantities of air as it evaporates. Asphyxiation

is caused due to oxygen displacement. In other words, a large quantity of gas displaced with
evaporation of cryogenic liquid can result in asphyxiation. When cryogenic liquids form a gas, the
gas is very cold. It is also heavier than air. This cold, heavy gas does not disperse very well and
can group together in surrounding areas and even if the gas is non-toxic, it displaces air. Total
displacement of oxygen by carbon dioxide, will result in unconsciousness, followed by death.
Oxygen deficiency is a serious hazard in enclosed or confined spaces, leading to asphyxiation
which is noticed in terms of nausea, dizziness, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and death. Such
symptoms usually occur without any warning.
Toxic hazards : Chemical toxicity hazards are faced when entering an area that has been used
to store cryogenic liquids if proper ventilation is not employed. Though most of the commonly used

cryogenic gases are considered to be of low toxicity, but still they can lead to specific health
problems. Some gases like carbon monoxide, fluorine, and nitrous oxide are toxic and hence it is
advisable to check the properties of the gases that are being used. For example, liquid carbon
monoxide can generate large quantities of carbon monoxide gas, which can cause death almost

Flammability/Explosion hazards of cyrogenic gases

Several types of situations exist that may result in a flammability hazard including:

Fire hazard: Flammable cryogenic gases like methane, hydrogen, carbon monoxide, liquefied
natural gas can burn or explode. Of all these gases, hydrogen is particularly more dangerous it is
easily ignited as it forms flammable mixtures with air over a wide range of concentration. Fire or
explosion occurs when evaporation and vapor buildup. Liquid oxygen, though not a flammable gas,
can accelerate combustion when combined with combustible materials.

Oxygen-enriched air: Cryogenic gases like liquid helium and liquid hydrogen are so cold that

they can easily liquefy the air they come in contact with. For example, liquid air can condense on a
surface cooled by liquid helium or hydrogen. Nitrogen evaporates more rapidly than oxygen from
the liquid air. This action leaves behind a liquid air mixture which, when evaporated, gives a high
concentration of oxygen. This oxygen-enriched air now presents all of the same hazards as
Liquid oxygen hazard: Cryogenic liquid like liquid oxygen comprises 4,000 times more oxygen

by volume than normal air. Materials that are usually considered non-combustible like stainless
steels, carbon, aluminum, cast iron, zinc, PTFE can become flammable in the presence of liquid
oxygen. There can be explosive reaction in organic materials if a flammable mixture is produced.
Clothes soaked in liquid oxygen can remain highly flammable for hours.
Explosion due to rapid expansion: There is another drawback of cryogenic gases. When

these gases are not stored properly or if there are no adequate venting or pressure-relief devices
on the containers, enormous pressures can build up inside the containers. The pressure inside
causes an explosion popularly called as BLEVE or boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion. It
becomes difficult to handle this increased pressure and explosion occurs. Therefore, the containers
for storing cryogenic gases must also have another backup device such as a bursting disc.
Over Pressurization: In cryogenic process, high pressures are formed by:
o compression of gases during refrigeration.
o pumping of liquids to high pressures.
o confinement of cryogenic fluids followed by evaporation.

If this confined fluid is released all of a sudden, a significant thrust is experienced. Overpressurization of cryogenic gas occurs when during the phase of change from liquid to gas is not
vented properly. The vaporization of cryogenic fluids produce large volumes of gas. A container
with inadequate pressure relief will lead to accumulation of pressure till the container ruptures,
which leads to serious injury.

Materials and construction hazards: Another drawback of cryogenic gases is that with very
low temperatures, the selection of materials requires the knowledge of the effect of the
temperatures on the properties of those materials. For example, there are metals which become
brittle at low temperatures, which can result in material failure. Low temperature product can also
fail on account of thermal stresses. There are some materials which shrink when extremely cold,
thereby leading to additional stress and can also result in leaks.

A quick recap
Hazards of cryogenic gases/liquids:

Can cause asphyxiation. This occurs when the air air necessary for the support of
life is displayed.

They cause frostbite, freezing burns, and destruction of tissue.

They are extremely cold and their vapors can freeze human tissue.
Boiling and splashing occurs when the cryogenic gases come in contact with
warm objects.
Cryogenic gases can make materials like plastic and rubber to become brittle and
fracture under stress.
Liquid to gas expansion ratio. Cryogenic gases can build up tremendous pressures
in a closed system and so the dispensing areas need to be well ventilated.

Cryogenic gases which are flammable causes serious fire and explosion hazards

Cryo Gas Handling

Liquefied gases or cryogenic gas have the potential for creating dangerous working environments. It is
important that those who use, handle or transport cryogenic gases should also know their potential hazards.
It is necessary for all users to know the properties of the gas in the cylinders or containers and adhere to
related safety regulations. The most commonly used industrial gases that are stored in their liquid state at
their cryogenic temperature and popularly known as cryogenic gases include argon, neon, helium, oxygen,
hydrogen and nitrogen. Each of these gases has their specific hazards and so proper care must be taken to
handle them. Because of extremely low temperatures and high rates of conversion into gas for all cryogenic
liquids, they lead to hazards like explosion, extreme cold, fire, asphyxiation etc., and hence adequate
precautions and safety measures must be taken.

How to prevent hazards?

It is advisable not to uses large quantities of cryogens without proper ventilation. In cases where liquid
helium spill, it is safe to evacuate the area immediately or prevent others from entering by "Do not enter"
signs. Wait for the dispersed gas to be replenished by the ventilation system before re-entering the room.
Always handle cryogenic gases carefully. The extremely low temperature of these gases lead to severe
burns, severe freezing of tissues. Exposure to these gases severely affect skin of hands and face. Avoid or
stay away from boiling and splashing of cold liquids or when cold vapors are released. These occurs when
inserting objects into the liquid or when charging a warm container. So better to perform these operations at
a slow speed to avoid splashing. Besides this, you should not allow any unprotected part of your skin to
come in contact with the uninsulated pipes and cylinders containing cryogenic liquids.
Safety Equipment
Whoever handles, transport, store or uses cryogenic gases must be properly protected so that eyes, skin do
not come in contact with the gas. The recommended PPE includes:
Loose fitting thermal insulated or leather long sleeve shirts, trousers and gloves.
Face shield
Safety glasses
Safety shoes for people involved in cylinder handling
Depending on the application, safety and special clothing suitable for that application is advisable. In
emergency case, safe contained breathing apparatus (SEBA) is advisable.

Inert gas precautions

When handling cryogenic inert gases, the potential of asphyxiation must be known. Whenever cryogenic
liquids are handled in enclosed areas, oxygen monitors are advisable. Never allow any person to work in an
atmosphere consisting less than 19.5% oxygen without supplied air.
Oxygen precautions
In the areas where liquid oxygen is stored or handled, it is advisable not to permit smoking or open flames.
Never allow liquid oxygen to come in contact with any flammable substances. Some of the materials that
react explosively when they come in contact with liquid oxygen are grease, oil, tar, kerosene, asphalt or dirt
consisting oil or grease. Do not walk on areas when there is spilled oxygen on asphalt or flammable
substance. Any clothing soaked or exposed to liquid oxygen must be immediately removed and properly
Hydrogen precautions
Just like liquid oxygen, in the areas of storing liquid hydrogen, smoking or open flames should not be
allowed. Liquid hydrogen should not be transferred from one container to another because if it comes in
contact with oxygen, the oxygen will condense in the liquid hydrogen resulting into a severe explosion.
Liquid hydrogen can solidify air, thereby blocking relief vents in the cylinder causing ruptures. Glass

cylinders are allowed for liquid hydrogen. Never allow any spilling of hydrogen it can create a flammable

A quick recap
To avoid unnecessary hazards while handling or storing cryogenic liquids, some handy
tips are give below:

Always wear personal protective equipment while handling cryogenic gases.

Only trained and qualified personal should be allowed to handle, transport or

storing cryogenic gases.
Proper storage is essential for such gases.
Cylinders should not be dragged or carried.
Containers should not be used for other purposes except for storing the specified
Magnets should not be used for lifting cylinders.
Observe containers for loss of insulated vacuum.

All cryogenic storage equipment must have proper pressure relief vent system so
as to avoid explosion or over pressurization etc

Non-cryogenic Air Separation

Gas processing or air separation is a very old technology of science involving the separation of air and the
identification of oxygen as an atmospheric component. Such a process owes its origin with the origin of

chemistry. There are basically two basic technologies of air separation: Cryogenic air separation and Non
cryogenic air separation.
While the cryogenic technique is a traditional method, the non-cryogenic air separation is however a very
new technology. Non cryogenic air separation was developed during the 1970s. While cryogenic gas
separation requires large sized plants for its processing, the non cryogenic process is considered to be a
convenient, efficient, and economical method to buying gas in high pressure cylinders or for purchasing bulk
liquid products to be vaporized. This process is preferable for many small scale users of oxygen or nitrogen.

What exactly is Non Cryogenic Separation?

The traditional method of producing nitrogen and oxygen gases is cryogenic air separation which involves
the process of cooling air in large sized plants to several hundred degrees below zero in order to separate
the component gases. Non-cryogenic air separation is however a very new technology that requires air to
force through through special materials that selectively pass or retain the oxygen or nitrogen. The physical
properties of the gases other than the temperature like molecular size and mass are exploited in non
cryogenic air separation process to produce discrete and refine elements of air at close-to-atmospheric
temperature. Operating at near-ambient temperature, these are then used to produce commercially valuable
gaseous products like oxygen and nitrogen.
There are three main technologies involved in non cryogenic process. They are

Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) used in nitrogen and oxygen generators

Vacuum-Pressure Swing Adsorption (VPSA) used in oxygen generators and

Membrane Separation, used to produce nitrogen gas.

We will discuss in details the three processes in the section:

Types of non-cryogenic air separation

Advantages of Non Cryogenic Separation Processes

The non cryogenic technique is much smaller in size than cryogenic plants

The basic advantage is that it can be placed directly on the customer's site
They are efficient and economical choices when demand is relatively small and when very high

product purity is not required

They are compact
They can operate at near-ambient temperature and pressure
Once installed, they can be brought on-line in less than 30 minutes.

Non cryogenic gas processing is growing up in recent years though it has not been able to completely
displace other existing technologies. The process is gradually gaining market share in those applications
where it has a clear economic or technical advantage. Both technology-push and market-pull factors have
contributed to the running of non separation process centered on PSA, VPSA or membrane technology. For
many manufacturers and suppliers, these non-cryogenic gas separations must play against the long
established cryogenic separations involved in bulk gas business.

Non-cryogenic gas processes are on the way to altering the economics of certain processes and expanding
the markets, applications, and uses of gases. The separation of air into oxygen, nitrogen, natural gas
purification, hydrogen recovery will become increasingly important across a wide spectrum of very specific
applications. Using non-cryogenic separations all types of gas streams can be processed. According to
recent report, the present and future markets for non-cryogenic gas separations include the following:
Air Separation --nitrogen and oxygen enriched air
Natural Gas Clean up
Hydrocarbon Clean-up
Hydrogen Separations
Hydrogen recovery from off-gases
Miscellaneous --rare gases, drying