China: strengthening in the hydrogen market

  • China
  • Hydrogen

Air Liquide has laid the "first stone" of a new hydrogen plant following the signature of a long-term agreement with Zhejiang Huafon Spandex Co. Ltd (Huafon) to supply hydrogen for its 120,000 tonnes per year cyclohexanone project located in Liaoyang Aromatics and Fine Chemical Park, Liaoyang city, Liaoning province, China. Cyclohexanone is a key ingredient in the creation of nylon.

Under the terms of the agreement, Air Liquide will invest in a new Steam Methane Reformer (SMR) unit that will supply 13,000 Nm3/hour of hydrogen as well as steam to Huafon via pipelines. This new unit, which is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2013, uses Lurgi 's latest technologies providing high reliability, world class safety and energy efficiency and will be designed and manufactured by the Air Liquide Engineering and Construction team based in Shanghai.

This hydrogen plant will be the third largest operated by Air Liquide and its subsidiaries in China. In January this year, a large hydrogen unit was started mainly to supply Bayer MaterialScience in Shanghai.

Hydrogen is a steadily growing market. It is used today in many industrial sectors, from refining for the treatment of heavy crude oil to produce sulphur-free fuels that comply with environmental regulations to chemicals and petrochemicals for the production of a variety of everyday products, including polyurethanes (foams) for construction materials, polycarbonates for DVDs, and nylons for textiles. In China, Air Liquide benefits from the remarkable local experience of its Engineering and Construction team in highly energy efficient hydrogen technologies as well as from the Group's worldwide capacity in the provision of safe and reliable hydrogen supply.

Zhejiang Huafon Spandex Co. Ltd is a listed company of the Huafon Group. Founded in 1991, the Huafon Group is a privately owned company with over 6,000 employees and more than 12 billion RMB total assets. It has become the world's largest manufacturer of polyurethanes resins for shoes and leather and the largest domestic manufacturer of spandex.

Mr. You Xiaoping, President of the Huafon Group, said, "We are delighted to enter into a long term relationship with Air Liquide. Thanks to Air Liquide's industrial gas solutions ensuring increased efficiency and reliability, we can better focus on our core business. We look forward to a close partnership with Air Liquide and hope to benefit from its global reputation for excellence in engineering and operational expertise.”

Jean-Marc de Royere, Asia Pacific Vice President and member of the Air Liquide Executive Committee, commented, "We are very honored to have been selected by Huafon to supply its production site in Liaoyang. This new contract confirms our ability to deliver highly reliable and efficient gas solutions not only in air gases but also in hydrogen to leading Chinese chemical companies. It also illustrates Air Liquide's commitment to supporting the industrial development of the Liaoning province and reinforcing our position in northeast China.”