The global market for air separation plants is expanding at a promising pace, with a number of product quality and environment protection regulations fusing together to increase the scope of usage of pure air-based gases across a number of industries. A number of industries continue to consume vast volumes of pure oxygen and other air gases over ambient air as a way of minimizing pollution and adhering to clean initiatives.
The oil and gas industry remains one of the key consumers of pure air gases, contributing significantly to the overall development of the global air separation plants market. This end-use sector is expected to provide vast growth opportunities to the global market in the near future, especially in region such as North America with a flourishing shale gas industry. The thriving food industry across developed as well as developing countries across the globe is emerging as a key consumer of food-grade air gases such as nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen for use across a number of application areas.
Owing to the rapid rise in demand for pure air gases, the global air separation plants market is presented with massive growth opportunities and is observing the entry of a number of new players. To stay ahead of the intense competition, companies are focusing on re-engineering air separation techniques to be able to improve the level of operation efficiency, increase production capacity, and reduce costs and energy consumption associated with production processes.
Air separation plants are used for the separation of atmospheric air into its primary components including nitrogen and oxygen, apart from other rare inert gases such as xenon, neon, helium, and krypton. These plants are used to separate the required gases so that they can be employed for various purposes in industries such as iron- and steel-making, coal gasification, medical, and chemical. Air separation plants are commonly considered the only viable source to recover rare gases required in the industries mentioned above. Development in these industries is a major factor driving the air separation plant market. However, newer applications are constantly being discovered for these plants. For instance, of late, air separation plants are being used in Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plants in order to help lower carbon emissions. The green industry is also emerging a viable new market for air separation plants. However, oil & gas and steelmaking industries are the major revenue generators of the global air separation plant market. Air separation plants do not have viable alternatives; hence, the outlook for the air separation plant market appears promising.
Depending upon the requirement, air separation plants can be customized or be made available in the modular form. Different types of plants offer distinct advantages and can be selected accordingly. For instance, customized plants can be configured for high power efficiency and ease of maintenance through low operating expenses (OPEX). On the other hand, modular air separation plants minimize costs and technical risks, while maximizing operational flexibility. Different types of plants are employed to separate different gases from the air. The level of purity of these gases as well as their states (i.e. liquid, gaseous, or solid) can also be decided before the installation of the plants. Non-cryogenic process and plants yield nitrogen and oxygen of high purity levels.
In terms of extracting gases, two methods are most commonly used: cryogenic process and non-cryogenic process. Under the cryogenic process, low temperature rectification is applied using the boiling point of the various gases in air. Under the non-cryogenic process, differences in physical properties of the various gases are used. Types of non-cryogenic processes include pressure swing adsorption technique and vacuum pressure swing adsorption technique. Compressed air is processed for desired gases under the pressure swing adsorption technique. Under the vacuum pressure swing adsorption technique, vacuum pumps are used to decrease the desorption pressure.
In terms of region, Asia Pacific dominates the global air separation market. The industrial sector in the region, especially in China and India, offers lucrative opportunities for the air separation plant market. On the other hand, North America and Europe are mature markets. Middle East & Africa and Latin America are among the low revenue generators. Asia Pacific is expected to continue its dominant position in the air separation plant market during the forecast period. The performance of the air separation plant market in Europe and North America is likely to improve during the next few years.
Prominent companies operating in the air separation plant market include The Linde Group; Phoenix Equipment Corporation; Air Products and Chemicals Inc.; Hangzhou Hangyang Co. Ltd.; ING. L&A. Boschi; Kobelco Air Water Cryoplant, Ltd; Air Liquide; Matheson K-Air India Pvt. Ltd.; Siemens, Servomex Group Limited, and Universal Industrial Gases, Inc.
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