In addition to measures applied to its own activities, Air Liquide, through its in-depth knowledge of its customers’ issues, is deploying low-carbon solutions for them — production, transportation and procedures — and is also working in partnership with them to develop innovative solutions.
Low-carbon solutions already in place
With its customers, Air Liquide has long been committed to a sustainable industry, notably thanks to its low-carbon solutions. Among these, the outsourcing of production: when customers from the same industrial basin call on the Group to produce gas on their behalf, this allows Air Liquide to mutualize its production assets, generate energy consumption savings of 15% to 20% and thus reduce CO2 emissions. The growth of outsourcing therefore has a positive impact on the planet, even though this means that Air Liquide must take on board greater emissions.
Other solutions aim to reduce transport-related emissions, either by installing production units directly at the customers’ sites, or by designing new cylinders which are 40% lighter.
Finally, the roll-out of oxycombustion technologies (and, in particular, the HeatOx™ solution) for customers in the steel and glassmaking sectors contributes to improving the energy efficiency of their production facilities and thus reducing their emissions.
15 to 20% in energy consumption
This is the energy optimization, and therefore the reduction in emissions, made possible by the mutualization of Air Liquide’s production assets to supply all its customers.
Source: Air Liquide estimate, November 2018
Innovative industrial processes
Air Liquide continues to innovate in terms of production techniques to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of its customers through its scientific and technical expertise and its in-depth knowledge of manufacturing processes. These solutions naturally aim to limit direct emissions, but may also be related to the capture of CO2 on production sites, so that it is not released into the atmosphere. This CO2 can then even be recovered and used for other customers.
Improving oxycombustion with HeatOx™
Oxycombustion, which is mainly used in the metals and glassmaking sectors, consists of increasing the oxygen concentration of air used during combustion, so that it is more efficient. The unique feature of Air Liquide’s HeatOx™ technology is that it reuses the heat produced during the production process to pre-heat oxygen and natural gas (methane) upstream. This process reduces oxygen and gas consumption as well as CO2 emissions, while also decreasing nitrogen oxides emissions.
Using hydrogene to decarbonize steel
Steel is an essential material in modern society, but steel plants produce very high levels of CO2. Air Liquide has been working for many years with its customers in the steel industry to implement solutions aimed at reducing these emissions. Promising possibilities are currently in the research and development stage, such as hydrogen injection into traditional blast furnaces which helps reduce coal consumption and therefore the quantity of CO2 emitted per ton of steel. Hydrogen could also be used instead of coke to reduce iron ore, which could reduce emissions by up to 80%.
Capturing CO2 with Cryocap™
The Cryocap™ process developed by Air Liquide using cryogenic processes (very low temperatures), can be used to capture the CO2 emissions released during the production of hydrogen by natural gas reforming. The benefits of this innovation are twofold: not only does it capture a large share of the CO2 released during production, it also improves the efficiency of the production process itself. The carbon captured can then be liquefied and purified for different applications in sectors such as agriculture (horticultural greenhouses), the food industry (the carbonation of sparkling drinks for instance), chemicals and transportation.