08 July 2013 17:11 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--Air Liquide has started up the world’s largest helium purification and liquefaction unit – a 38m cubic metre/year plant in Ras Laffan Industrial City, Qatar, the French industrial gases firm announced on Monday.
The project arose from the existing partnership among Air Liquide and Qatar liquefied natural gas (LNG) suppliers RasGas and Qatargas, which was formed for the development of a previous helium unit at the site in 2003.
The Helium 2 plant will bring production capacity at the site to about 58m cubic metres/year, making Qatar the world’s second largest helium producer with 25% of global production, Air Liquide said.
The unit is operated by RasGas and uses Air Liquide’s proprietary purifying and liquefying technologies. Air Liquide will purchase 50% of the helium volumes produced at the site.
“This start-up marks the next step toward helium market stability,” Air Liquide said. “World demand for helium has remained robust in the last 10 years, while helium is scarce worldwide.”
Helium is used in a wide range of products such as MRI scanners, semiconductors, fibre-optic cable, space exploration, scientific research, air-bag production and professional hyberbaric diving.
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