Air Liquide inaugurates its sixth Air Separation Unit in Benelux


Air Liquide inaugurates its sixth Air Separation Unit in Benelux

In summer of 2020, Air Liquide took the decision to invest 125 million euros to build a first-of-its-kind world-scale oxygen production plant with energy storage capabilities enabling it to better manage the intermittency of renewable energy production and consumption. On December 14th, we celebrated the inauguration of this sixth Air Liquide’s Air Separation Unit (ASU) in the Benelux, located in Moerdijk. This next generation production asset will supply large quantities of high purity molecules to Air Liquide’s customers, with a 10% lower energy consumption compared to previous standard production assets, based on innovative patented technologies and renewable power use. In alignment with its Climate Objectives, this pioneering project is fully embedded in Air Liquide’s commitment to advance for a more sustainable European industry.

Breakthrough innovations to decarbonize Air Liquide’s asset base and its customers’ activities

This ASU particularly emphasizes Air Liquide’s innovative DNA in a number of ways. Firstly, the more compact construction of the ASU, allowing to reduce energy consumption by 10%, compared to the existing standard production units. 

Air Liquide has already purchased more than 150 MW of renewable power from wind farms in the North Sea, via three Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). As part of reaching its climate objectives implying an increase of renewable energy use, Air Liquide is constantly exploring additional renewable sourcing opportunities. The already purchased renewable power in the Benelux covers much more than the ASU Moerdijk energy consumption, and allows the Group not only to significantly reduce its carbon footprint but also to meet the growing demand from its customers for competitive low-carbon solutions. 

The use of renewable energy is optimized by a breakthrough Air Liquide patented technology, ALIVETM, which will be leveraged for the very first time at industrial scale. This highly innovative process uses cryogenic liquid air for temporary energy storage (up to 40 MWh) allowing to temporarily reduce the ASU energy intake, while maintaining the same production capacity. By being able to use liquid oxygen as a feedstock when renewable electricity supply capacity is below demand, this helps to stabilize the national power grid and to accommodate the intermittency and rising shares of renewable energy within the energy system, without any impact on Air Liquide customers’ supply.

Developing our asset-base in a key strategic basin for Air Liquide

With a daily oxygen production capacity of 2,200 tonnes (which is the equivalent of around 92 Air Liquide truckloads of pure oxygen), in addition to argon and nitrogen, the ASU in Moerdijk steps up our local production and delivery capacity for our customers in this key strategic basin for Air Liquide. Moerdijk is at the junction of Rotterdam and Antwerp, two of the most important industrial areas in Europe and already connected by Air Liquide pipelines. Also, the production will enable the delivery of liquefied gas by truck to customers in the Netherlands, who are currently supplied from Belgium. For these customers, it will result in reduced CO2 footprint for supplying the gas - an estimated 400,000 km driven per year - and consequently an increased competitiveness.

Oxygen will notably be used in the chemical, glass, steel industries and healthcare. The nitrogen will be used mainly as an inert safety gas in a range of industries and in food packaging, while the argon extracted will also be used as an inert safety gas in the metals, automotive, electronics and food industries