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The world’s largest oxygen production unit

The world’s largest oxygen production unit has just been inaugurated on the site of Secunda, South Africa. Sasol, an international integrated energy and chemicals company, entrusted Air Liquide with the unit's construction, ownership and operation for the next 20 years. Explanations.

Large-scale project

Air Liquide invested around €200 million1 for the construction of the world's largest oxygen production unit. As scheduled, the new Air Separation Unit (ASU) has been completed in less than three years from design to commissioning. Its start-up brings to 17 the number of ASUs delivered by Air Liquide over the last 40 years, with a total oxygen production capacity greater than 45,000 tons per day. Owned and operated by Air Liquide, this 17th ASU is the first one that Sasol has chosen to outsource to a specialist of industrial gas production at this site. This major project strengthens Air Liquide’s ability to embrace large-scale innovative projects and underscores the importance of this long-term relationship.

1 investment decided in 2015.

© Sasol - Used with permission

Record-setting ASU

The new unit sets new records for size: from the biggest air compressor ever built, driven by a 65-megawatt motor, to the air distillation columns integrating latest design developments... Its total production capacity of 5,000 tons of oxygen per day2 is used by Sasol for production of fuels and chemicals.

2 Secunda being located at an altitude of 1,600 meters, the production capacity is equivalent to 5,800 tons per day at sea level.

A human achievement on an international scale

In addition to the technological challenge, this Sasol project represents an extraordinary human achievement, involving Air Liquide teams worldwide. The Engineering & Construction centers in Champigny and Vitry in France, Delhi in India and Johannesburg in South Africa were at the center of the international coordination that was key to the project’s success.

© Sasol - Used with permission

Long-lasting efficiencies

The unit was designed and built by Air Liquide’s Engineering & Construction team using leading edge technologies that meet the highest standards of safety, reliability and efficiency, while increasing production capacity. The ASU's design is based on Air Liquide’s proprietary technologies including several first of its kind innovations in the air compression process, which allow for an annual electricity consumption reduction of more than 20%, contributing to reducing the customer’s carbon footprint.

Contributing to local economic development

This large-scale innovative project is confirming the Group’s industrial leadership and expertise in state-of-the art technologies as well as its commitment to contribute to South Africa’s economic and social development. This new ASU also provides Air Liquide with a new source of liquid gases to supply the growing industrial gas market in South Africa. The Group currently employs around 800 people in South Africa and is committed to supporting local development.