Afrox’s new speciality gases plant at its Gases Operation Centre in Germiston, on Gauteng’s East Rand, is set to reshape the current market – boasting new product ranges, with a higher accuracy and greatly increased capacity.
The multi-million rand modern facility has been specifically designed to meet customer needs and specifications to international standards and marks Afrox as the market leader in the speciality gases field. In addition, the new facility has been designed with the environment in mind and all gases released during the process will be captured by a world-class scrubber system. The scrubber plant was designed with a very high safety factor to prevent any release of untreated gas into the atmosphere.
Market-superior total solution
“We have been listening to what our customers want in terms of current market trends and the latest technology, new standards and emerging legislation,” said Afrox speciality gases business manager, Robert Carlton-Shields, at a recent factory tour for invited guests and the media which ‘Chemical Technology’ attended.
He told us that six key measures were identified during the planning stages: innovation of products; reliability of delivery times; competence in providing exactly what the customer requires; security of supply; proximity; and building partnerships with customers. These keys are integrated into the slogan for the new HiQ® range of speciality gas products and equipment, as “Precision matters in everything we do”.
“Our new facility has been developed to reflect the above-mentioned key areas of importance and the increased capacity should meet production demands to 2015. The new local production facility will also allow Afrox to produce “made to order” speciality gases with shorter lead times — in some cases in as little as five days,” he added.
Launch of world-class range of speciality gases – HiQ® 60
Afrox is particularly proud to be able to offer the exclusive range of HiQ® 60 speciality gas products developed internationally by its parent company, The Linde Group. This new range, which Carlton-Shields described as a ‘master brand’, will provide the African market with accurate, stable gas products with a full 60-month performance guarantee. “This puts Afrox in the position of being the only company on the continent able to offer a five-year stability guarantee,” he said.
“The product dimensions of a specialty gas include maximum gas purity, compatible cylinder selection and pre-filling preparation. With a specialty gas mixture, additional quality attributes revolve around four principles: stability, traceability, accuracy and relative blend tolerance. Afrox will harness these principles in the manufacture of every HiQ® 60 product. The result will be our guarantee that every HiQ® 60 specialty gas product will offer flat-line stability for 60 months from date of manufacture.
“The development of an extended five-year shelf life is a significant leap forward in the supply of calibration gases in the global arena. Previously gas suppliers across the market offered product expiration guarantees generally limited to 36 months, with many products available with only 12 or 24 months of shelf life.
“With calibration gas mixtures, the most important requirement is for an accurate reported value of the relevant component at time of use. Gas products with these more limited shelf lives can impact measurement accuracy, since gas stability in terms of consistency and quality can change over time. Where consistency or purity of the gas has been compromised, this can result in expensive system re-calibration procedures, additional cylinder change-overs and wasted man-hours.”
Carlton-Shields said the new HiQ® range, which will be manufactured to international standards, incorporates a further development in emissions monitoring and detection — the miniaturization of emissions monitoring devices, which are often dispersed across remote locations throughout a plant. These instruments demand smaller, highly portable gas calibration solutions.
Range of speciality gases available
HiQ® 60 pure gases include argon, carbon dioxide, helium, hydrogen, nitrogen and synthetic air, with calibration mixtures available with multiple non-reactive components. At the new facility, mixtures can now be combined to higher accuracy using the latest mass comparator technology.
The gases are analysed and certificated in a high-tech laboratory by experts. We have a range of techniques to accomplish analyses on percentage, through to parts per billion levels. The instruments range from zirconia cell technology, to gas chromatographs with pulse discharge helium ionization technology, very sensitive to impurity detection on pure gases. Every HiQ® cylinder of gas is supplied with a certification date.
Other speciality gases produced at the plant include scientific gases used for analytically orientated applications and process gases used for applications such as fruit ripening and leak detection.
The introduction of this brand in South Africa is part of a Linde initiative to establish a global standard across the group. Carlton-Shields told us that the availability of the innovative HiQ-branded products will also be beneficial for multinationals, who will be able to access the same products, with uniformly high quality, in any country in which The Linde Group is represented.