Today, the metallurgy and glass industries are facing the dual challenges of making furnaces more energy and cost efficient while reducing polluting emissions. Air Liquide supports these industries with proven and patented combustion technologies based on enriching air with pure oxygen, a process known as oxy-combustion.
Oxy-combustion at a glance
Combustion results from the reaction of oxygen and combustible molecules like fuel or natural gases. Air is commonly used in most industrial processes as the oxidizing agent.
Oxy-combustion is based on the enrichment of air with pure oxygen to reduce fuel consumption, a decrease that is even more significant if nitrogen of the air is eliminated completely. Oxy-combustion also reduces carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, which are harmful to both humans and the environment.
There are three major ways to enrich air with oxygen and generate optimum heat transfers to the molten product in a furnace:
Oxygen is added to air before injection into the furnace
Oxygen is injected directly into the furnace using lances
Oxy-fuel burners are used for distribution and injection of pure oxygen and fuel
“We can design specific burners for a given process, or adapt our technology to the customer’s production configuration.”
How is Air Liquide involved in oxy-fuel technology?
While combustion has existed for a long time, oxy-combustion has not. Air Liquide is developing oxy-combustion technology that we sell with oxygen. Our technology draws on our fundamental knowledge of combustion and industrial processes such as glass or metal melting, and our expertise in oxy-combustion. We also have R&D teams working with furnace pilots and a network of field experts.
We can design specific burners for a given process, or adapt our technology to the customer’s production configuration (after a preliminary study to understand the type of flame required). We also provide assistance for furnace start-up and performance monitoring, always working closely with our customers to ensure full support.
What are the benefits to customers of oxy-combustion?
There are several customer benefits. Energy efficiency is one, as you can halve fuel consumption. The higher temperature also means better quality results for the end-product. Without nitrogen, you reduce your NOx emissions and CO₂ footprint, so there are definite environmental benefits.
Moreover, you can downsize the flue gas treatment downstream, reducing the size of your scrubber and your particulate emissions. It also means no more investment in regenerators and other pre-heating systems necessary for air. With more space around your furnace you can increase its size without moving locations.
What makes Air Liquide’s oxy-combustion offer competitive?
We have some unique technologies such as Nexelia™ for Melting - Heat Oxy-Combustion, an innovative technology that extracts heat from combustion fumes and uses it to heat oxygen and fuel, hence maximizing the oxy-combustion performance. Compared to air combustion, this technology provides up to 10% in energy savings and reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions as well.
Another solution, BOOSTAL™ is for non-ferrous metal recycling. It has three types of flame within the one burner, meaning you can change the flame orientation and minimize the risk of oxidization. We are also developing burners for coal combustion (solid fuel), biomass, and alternative fuel. We are involved in all major markets, while opening those that don’t yet exist.
Oxy-fuel combustion is an application mainly used in the metallurgy, glass industries and increasingly in businesses under strong carbon footprint constraints, like the cement industry. For all these industries, we deliver competitive oxy-combustion offers, from gas supply to comprehensive solutions.
Our metallurgy offer
Air Liquide is a strategic partner for many large metallurgy companies around the world. Oxygen is needed for numerous applications in this sector, namely in the production of steel, copper, aluminium, nickel and zinc.
When large volumes of gas are consumed, transportation via pipeline offers an alternative to overland shipping and the resulting environmental impact. This represents the most efficient and reliable delivery system for large companies. We deliver tens of thousands of metric tons daily via pipelines to our customers located around the world.
For lower volumes of gas, our packaged offer, BOOSTAL™, is ideal. It includes oxygen, a full range of advanced technologies and burners designed for steel, non-ferrous metals and foundries. Our experts get to the heart of operations on site, allowing them to understand how clients work and where our BOOSTAL™ solutions can enhance performance and help them better respect of the environment.
Our glass industry offer
We partner with glassmakers to deliver tangible and measurable results. They are obtained through engineered solutions, backed by R&D teams and field experts. Nexelia™ for Melting - Oxy-Combustion is our comprehensive offer for oxy-combustion in glass making. It covers oxygen delivery, patented burners and further value-added services.