Giant air-separation unit starts up in Russia

Russia’s second largest steel company Severstal and France-based Air Liquide have launched the world’s biggest air-separation unit in the steel industry.

Oxygen, which is crucial for supporting life on Earth, is also one of the most vital elements in steel production.

Russian metals giant Severstal teamed with suppliers of industrial gases, Air Liquide, to build the world’s biggest oxygen production unit.

“The budget for this project was about €100 MLN and as already mentioned today, we did not exceed that budget. Severstal has a 25% stake in the project, while Air Liquide controls the rest,” commented Aleksey Shuvalov, the head of Air Liquide Severstal JV.

Located in its huge, 50 square kilometer mill in Cherepovetz in the Vologda region, the unit, which was officially launched on Wednesday, has a capacity of 3,000 tonnes of oxygen per day.

It will supply the steel mill with pure, high-pressure oxygen, as well as nitrogen and argon.

The gases will help Severstal improve its energy efficiency. But the unit will also help expand Air Liquide’s business in Russia.

“Liquefied oxygen we will be supplied to many customers in the area in many industries, like the food and metal-working industry, and in environmental applications. It is a starting-point for a growing business in a market which has a lot of attraction to us, that is – Russia,” stated Klaus Schmieder, Executive Vice President, Air Liquide.