The industry that produces these gases, also known as industrial gases, is considered to also include the provision of equipment and technology for the production and use of gases. Their production is part of the broader Chemical Industry (where industrial gases are often referred to as “specialty chemicals”).
Gases are used in many industries, including petroleum, petrochemical, chemical, power, mining, steelmaking, metallurgy, environmental protection, medicine, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, food , water, fertilizer, nuclear power, electronics and aerospace.
Gas sold to other industrial enterprises; typically covers large orders for corporate industrial customers, covering a range of sizes from building process facilities or pipelines down to gas cylinders.
Some commercial scale business is carried out, often through a local dealer that is provided wholesale. This business includes the sale or rental of gas cylinders and related equipment to workers and sometimes the public. This includes products such as helium gas, brewing gas for beer kegs, welding gas and welding equipment, LPG and medical oxygen.
Small-scale retail sale of gas supply is not limited to gas companies or their agents. There are many types of small portable gas cylinders, which may be called cylinders, bottles, cartridges, capsules or containers to deliver LPG, butane, propane, carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide. Examples include whipped cream chargers , electrical outlets , campingaz and sodastream.
The early history of industrial gases
The first natural gas used by humans was almost certainly air when it was discovered that blowing or fanning a flame made it burn brighter. Humans also use the warm gas from fire to smoke food and steam from boiling water to cook food.
Carbon dioxide has been known since ancient times as a by-product of fermentation, especially for beverages, first recorded dating from 7000–6600 BC in Jiahu, China. Natural gas was used by the Chinese around 500 BC. when they discovered the ability to transport permeable gas from the ground through rudimentary bamboo pipes to where it was used to boil seawater.
Sulfur dioxide was used by the Romans in winemaking because it was discovered that burning sulfur candles inside empty wine vessels kept them fresh and prevented them from smelling of vinegar.
When they discovered the ability to transport permeable gas from the ground through rudimentary bamboo pipes to where it was used to boil seawater. Sulfur dioxide was used by the Romans in winemaking because it was discovered that burning sulfur candles inside empty wine vessels kept them fresh and prevented them from smelling of vinegar.
Initial understanding includes experimental and protoscience evidence of alchemy; however with the advent of the scientific method and the science of chemistry, these gases have been positively identified and understood.
The history of chemistry tells us that some gases have been identified and discovered or were first made in relatively pure form during the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries by chemists. remarkable study in their laboratories. The detection timelines attributed to different gases are carbon dioxide (1754), hydrogen (1766), nitrogen (1772), nitrous oxide (1772), oxygen (1773), ammonia (1774), chlorine (1774) , methane (1776), hydrogen sulfide (1777), carbon monoxide (1800), hydrogen chloride (1810), acetylene (1836), helium (1868) fluorine (1886), argon (1894), krypton, neon and xenon (1898) ) and radon (1899).
Carbon dioxide, hydrogen, nitrous oxide, oxygen, ammonia, chlorine, sulfur dioxide, and manufactured fuel gas were used in the 19th century and are mainly used in food, refrigeration, medicine, and for fuel and gas light. For example, carbonated water has been produced since 1772 and commercialized since 1783, chlorine was first used to bleach textiles in 1785, and nitrous oxide was first used for dental anesthesia. science in 1844. At this time, time gas was often made available for immediate use by chemical reactions.
A notable example of a generator is the Kipps device which was invented in 1844 and can be used to generate gases such as hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide, chlorine, acetylene, and carbon dioxide in a simple gaseous evolutionary reaction. . Acetylene has been commercially produced since 1893 and acetylene generators have been used since about 1898 to produce gas for gas cooking and gas lighting, however, electricity is more practical for lighting. light and once LPG was commercially produced from 1912, the use of acetylene for cooking declined.
Once gases were discovered and produced in modest quantities, industrialization spurred innovation and technological invention to produce larger quantities of these gases. Notable developments in the gas production industry include the electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen (1869) and oxygen (since 1888), the Brin process for oxygen production invented in 1884, and the chloralkali process to chlorine production in 1892 and the Haber process for ammonia production in 1908.
Application developments in refrigeration have also resulted in advances in air conditioning and the liquefaction of gases. Carbon dioxide was first liquefied in 1823. The first vapor compression refrigeration cycle using ether was invented by Jacob Perkins in 1834 and a similar cycle using ammonia was invented in 1873 and a type different from sulfur dioxide in 1876.
Liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen were both first produced in 1883; Liquid hydrogen was first produced in 1898 and helium in 1908. LPG was first produced in 1910. A patent for LNG was filed in 1914 with the first commercial production in 1917.
While no event marks the beginning of the industrial gas industry, many would consider it to be the 1880s with the construction of the first high-pressure compressed air cylinders. Initially, cylinders were mainly used for carbon dioxide in the carbonate process or in the preparation of beverages.
In 1895, refrigeration compression cycles were further developed to allow the liquefaction of air, most notably by Carl von Linde allowing for the production of greater amounts of oxygen, and in 1896 it was discovered that a greater quantity of oxygen was produced. Large amounts of acetylene can be dissolved in acetone and are non-explosive allowing safe bottling of acetylene.
A particularly important application has been the development of welding and metal cutting performed with oxygen and acetylene since the early 1900s. As processes for the production of other gases were developed, many other gases were sold. in cylinders without the need for a gas generator.
Industrial gas production technology
Gas separation refines the air in the separation process and thus allows for the mass production of nitrogen and argon along with oxygen – three often also produced as cryogenic liquids. To achieve the required low distillation temperature, the Air Separator (ASU) uses a refrigeration cycle that operates by the Joule-Thomson effect. In addition to the primary gases in air, gas separation is also the only practical source for the production of rare noble gases neon, krypton and xenon.
Cryotherapy also allows for the liquefaction of natural gas, hydrogen and helium. In natural gas processing, cryogenic technology is used to remove nitrogen from natural gas in a Nitrogen Removal Unit; a process can also be used to produce helium from natural gas where the natural gas field contains enough helium to make this economical product. Larger gas companies typically invest in extensive patent libraries in all areas of their business, particularly in the refrigeration sector.
The other major manufacturing technology in the industry is Reform. Steam reforming is a chemical process used to convert natural gas and water vapor into syngas containing hydrogen and carbon monoxide with carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Partial oxidation and auto reformatting are similar processes but these also require oxygen from the ASU. Syngas is often a precursor to the chemical synthesis of ammonia or methanol. The carbon dioxide produced is an acidic gas and is most commonly removed by amine treatment. This sequestered carbon dioxide has the potential to be sequestered into a capture carbon sink or used for Advanced Oil Recovery.
Gas separation and hydrogen reform are the cornerstones of the gas industry and are also part of the technologies needed for many gasification fuels (including IGCC), cogeneration, and the Fischer-Tropsch Gas-to-Liquid Scheme . Hydrogen has many production methods and is a carbon-alternative fuel that replaces the use of hydrocarbons in Orkney; See hydrogen economy for more information on hydrogen usage. Liquid hydrogen is used by NASA in the space shuttle as fuel for rockets.
Simpler gas separation Technologies, such as membranes or molecular sieves used in pressure swing adsorption or vacuum rotational adsorption are also used to produce pure air gas in nitrogen generators and oxygen factory. Other examples that produce smaller amounts of gas are chemical oxygen generators or oxygen generators.
In addition to the main gases produced by air separation and syngas reform, the industry offers many other gases. Some gases are simply byproducts from other industries and others are sometimes purchased from other larger chemical manufacturers, refined and repackaged; although a few have their own production processes. For example, hydrogen chloride is produced by burning hydrogen in chlorine, nitrous oxide is produced by the thermal decomposition of ammonium nitrate on mild heating, electrolysis to produce fluorine, chlorine and hydrogen, and corona discharge to produces ozone from air or oxygen.
Related services and technologies can be provided such as vacuum , typically provided in hospital gas systems ; pure compressed air; or refrigeration. Another unusual system is the inert gas generator. Some 2021 industrial gas companies may also supply related chemicals, especially liquids such as bromine and ethylene oxide.
Gas supply method
Most materials that are gaseous at ambient temperature and pressure are supplied as compressed air. Air compressors are used to compress air into a pressure vessel storage (such as a gas tank, air tank or pipe trailer) through a Piping System. Gas cylinders are by far the most common gas storage, and the bulk is produced in a “cylinder filling” facility.
However, not all gases are supplied in the gas phase. Some gases are vapors that can be liquefied at ambient temperature under pressure, so they may also be supplied as liquids in a suitable container. This phase change also makes these gases useful as ambient refrigerants, and the most important gases with this property are ammonia (R717), propane (R290), butane (R600), and sulfur dioxide (R764). Chlorine also has this property but is so toxic, corrosive and chemically reactive that it has never been used as a refrigerant.
Some other gases exhibit this phase change if the ambient temperature is low enough; this includes ethylene (R1150), carbon dioxide (R744), ethane (R170), nitrous oxide (R744A) and sulfur hexafluoride; however, they can only be liquefied under pressure if kept below their critical temperature of 9°C for C 2H4; 31 ° C for CO 2 ; 32°C for C 2H6; 36°C for N 2 O; 45 °C for SF 6 .
All of these are also supplied as gases (not vapors) at 200 bar in a gas cylinder because that pressure is higher than their critical pressure (gases with a critical temperature below ambient). surrounding) can only be supplied as liquids if they are also cooled. All gases can be used as refrigerants at the temperature at which they are liquid; for example, nitrogen (R728) and methane (R50) are used as refrigerants at cold temperatures.
In particular carbon dioxide can be produced as a cold solid known as dry ice, which sublimes when heated under ambient conditions, the properties of carbon dioxide are that it cannot be liquid at lower pressures its triple point is 5.1 bar.
Acetylene is also supplied alternatively. As it is highly unstable and explosive, it is supplied as a gas dissolved in acetone in a volume packed in a cylinder. Acetylene is also the only conventional gas that sublimates at atmospheric pressure.
Major industrial gases can be produced in bulk and delivered to customers by pipeline, but can also be packaged and shipped.
Most gases are sold in gas cylinders and some are sold as liquid in suitable containers (e.g. Dewars) or bulk liquid transported by truck. Initially, the industry supplied gas in cylinders to avoid the need for local gas generation; but for large customers such as a steel mill or an oil refinery, a large gas production plant may be built nearby (often referred to as an “on-site”) facility to avoid bulk use manifold cylinders together.
Alternatively, an industrial gas company can provide plant and equipment to produce gas instead of gas itself. An industrial gas company may also offer to act as plant operator under an operation and maintenance contract for a customer gas facility, as it typically has experience operating such facilities for produce or process the gas itself.
Some materials are hazardous to use as a gas; for example, fluorine is highly reactive and industrial chemistry that requires fluorine often uses hydrogen fluoride (or hydrofluoric acid) instead. Another approach to overcoming gas reactivity is to generate a gas when and when required, this is done, for example, with ozone.
Distribution options are therefore local gas generation, pipelines, bulk transport (trucks, railways, ships), and packaged gas in gas cylinders or other containers.
Gaseous bulk liquids are typically delivered to end-user tanks. Gas cylinders (and liquid gas cylinders) are commonly used by end users for their small scale distribution systems. Toxic or flammable gas cylinders are usually stored by the end user in a gas cabinet for protection from external fire or from any leaks.
Industrial gas definition
Gas is a group of materials specially manufactured for industrial use and also in gaseous form at ambient temperature and pressure. They are chemicals that can be elemental gases or organic or inorganic chemical compounds, and tend to be low molecular weight. They can also be a mixture of individual gases. They are valuable as a chemical; whether as feedstock, during enhancement, as a useful end product, or for a specific use; as opposed to being valuable as a “simple” fuel.
The term “industrial gas” is sometimes narrowly defined as just the primary gases sold, that is: nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, argon, hydrogen, acetylene, and helium. Many names are given to gases outside this main list by different gas companies, but generally these gases fall under the categories of “special gases”, “medical gases”, “fuel gases” or ” refrigerant gas”.
However, gases can also be known by their usage or the industries they serve, hence “welding gas” or “breathing gas”, etc.; or by their source, as in “air gas”; or according to their mode of delivery as in “packaged gas”. The primary gases may also be referred to as “bulk gases” or “tonnage gases”.
In principle, any gas or mixture of gases sold by “industrial gas” can have several industrial uses and may be referred to as “industrial gas”. In practice, “industrial gas” can be a pure compound or a mixture of precise chemical compositions, packaged or in small quantities, but of high purity or adapted for this purpose. specific end use (eg, oxyacetylene). A list of the more important gases is listed under “Gas” below.
There are cases where the gas is not normally called “industrial gas”; mainly where the gas is processed for later energy use instead of being produced for use as a chemical or preparation.
The oil and gas industry is considered distinct. So while natural gas is strictly the “gas” used in “industry” – often as a fuel, sometimes as a feedstock, and in this general sense, “industrial gas”; This term is not generally used by industrial enterprises for hydrocarbons produced by the oil and gas industry directly from natural resources or in refineries. Materials such as LPG and LNG are complex mixtures that often do not have an exact chemical composition and also often change during storage.
The petrochemical industry is also considered distinct. Therefore, petrochemicals (petroleum-derived chemicals) such as ethylene are also not usually described as “industrial gases”.
The chemical industry is sometimes considered distinct from industrial gas; so materials such as ammonia and chlorine can be considered “chemicals” (especially if supplied as liquids) instead of or sometimes as “industrial gases”.
Small-scale gas supplies to portable containers are sometimes not considered industrial gas because the uses are considered personal rather than industrial; and the supplier is not always a gas expert.
These delineations are based on the cognitive boundaries of these disciplines (although in practice there is some overlap), and a precise scientific definition is difficult. To illustrate the “overlapping” of industries:
Produced gas (such as town gas) was formerly considered industrial gas. Syngas is often referred to as a petrochemical company; although its production is the core industrial gas technology. Likewise, the projects to exploit Landfill Gas or Biogas, Waste to Energy, as well as Hydrogen Production all have overlapping technologies.
Helium is an industrial gas, although its source is natural gas processing
Any gas is likely to be considered an industrial gas if it is put into a gas cylinder (except perhaps where it is used as a fuel)
When using propane will be considered an industrial gas as a refrigerant, but not used as a refrigerant in LNG production, although this is an overlapping technology.
Chemical symbols for gases
The chemical elements known or which can be obtained from natural resources and in gaseous form are hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, fluorine, chlorine, plus noble gases; and are collectively referred to as “elemental gases” by chemists.
All of these elements are primordial except for the noble gas radon which is a naturally occurring trace radioactive isotope because all isotopes are radionuclides from radioactive decay. (It will not be scientifically proven if any composite element with an atomic number above 108 is a gas, although elements 112 and 114 are thought to be gases.)
The elements that are diatomicly stable to the nucleus at standard temperature and pressure (STP), are hydrogen (H 2 ), nitrogen (N 2 ), and oxygen (O 2 ), plus fluorine halogens (F 2 ). and chlorine (Cl 2 ). All noble gases are pure elements.
In industrial gases, the term “element gas” (or sometimes less precisely, “molecular gas”) is used to distinguish these gases from molecules that are also chemical compounds. All of these elements are nonmetals.
Radon is chemically stable, but it is radioactive and has no stable isotope. Its most stable isotope, Rn, has a half-life of 3.8 days. Its use is radioactive, not chemical, and it requires professional handling beyond industry gas standards. However, it can be produced as a by-product of coniferous ore processing. Radon is a naturally occurring trace of radioactive material (NORM) encountered in the air treated in the ASU.
Chlorine is the only elemental gas that is technically a vapor because STP is below the critical temperature; while bromine and mercury are liquids at STP, and so their vapors exist in equilibrium with their liquids at STP.
Gas in the air
Other elemental gases
chlorine (Cl 2) (vapour)
Other common industrial gases
This list displays the other most common gases sold by industrial gas companies.