Afrox has commissioned a state-of-the-art gas installation, worth in the region of R1,6-million, at Ampath Trust’s new main medical pathology laboratory in Centurion. The installation is one of Afrox’s biggest HiQ®60 ultra-high purity gases and REDLINE® equipment installations in South Africa.
HiQ is an exclusive world-class range of speciality gas products and associated equipment developed internationally by Afrox’s parent company, The Linde Group. Afrox’s Gerard Swanepoel describes HiQ as a “master brand’ and says it is a significant leap forward in the supply of ultra-high purity gases.
Afrox’s state-of-the-art Gases Operation Centre (GOC) in Germiston has been fully re-engineered to support this market-superior total solution. The newly upgraded GOC is the company’s largest special gases facility and laboratory on the continent, servicing more than 3,500 customers and 41 Afrox branches throughout Africa.
The REDLINE® gas supply system for high-purity gases and speciality gases is an important part of the HiQ offering and is a contemporary, carefully designed range of regulators, valves and gas panels which guarantees the integrity of the gas within the system to 99,9999% purity.
Gas panels, also part of the REDLINE® range, are generally regarded as the heart of a gas installation, as they are used in a central gas supply system for reducing the high primary pressure in the cylinders to more manageable secondary pressures. They work with point of use equipment to provide stable gas pressure at each workstation.
“The demands made on regulators and valves in these environments are extremely high. Components must be capable of dealing with high and low pressures, large and small flows,” says Swanepoel. “They must be suitable for high-purity inert gases, as well as reactive, flammable, corrosive or toxic gases. REDLINE® equipment is the result of comprehensive design and development efforts on an international platform.
“REDLINE® equipment is designed so that the surfaces in contact with the gas are clean, diffusion-tight metal surfaces. This high degree of tightness prevents the ingress of oxygen and moisture from surrounding air, allowing us to guarantee the purity of the gas throughout the distribution system.
“The flow and pressure required at the work place should be constant — regardless of cylinder or system pressure and regardless of the flow,” he adds. “A good regulator should give a constant flow and maintain the pressure that is set on the secondary side. We’ve achieved this with REDLINE® equipment.”
Afrox was awarded the Ampath Trust supply contract in 2009 and the installation began in 2010. This follows an ultra-high purity gas supply relationship that goes back several years, when Afrox supplied Ampath’s laboratories with gases such as helium, air, acetylene, carbon dioxide, Handigas and liquid nitrogen.
The Afrox installation supplies gas to two floors of the new laboratory, involving about 3 000 m of grade 316 stainless steel piping. Linde W40 regulators, A209 manifolds and an alarm system are part of the installation. The alarm alerts operators to the fact that one side of the cylinder bank has been depleted and although the system switches over automatically to the next bank, the alarm continues to sound until the empty bank has been changed out. Gases are piped through from high-purity cylinders stored outside the building in a central cylinder manifold area. Pressures are set at the manifold and the gases are supplied at a constant pressure to various delivery points within the laboratory, where operators regulate the pressure down to suit their specific requirements.
“Up until now, gas suppliers across the market have offered product expiration guarantees generally limited to 36 months, with many products available with only 12 or 24 months of shelf life,” says Swanepoel. “HiQ® 60 gas products alleviate concerns associated with quality or reliability issues for a period of up to five years and give customers peace of mind.
“With the HiQ range, our customers can be confident that they are using a product that is in line with global specifications in terms of both quality and safety. This solution is backed up by local and international technical support and addresses customer needs in terms of current market trends, technological advancements, new standards and emerging legislation.”