Air Products recently announced it has broken ground in Convent, LA, where it will build a 100 ton/day (TPD) ion transport membrane (ITM) oxygen production test facility. The pilot plant project will include both an ITM unit producing oxygen and an electrical cogeneration unit producing power. The ITM demonstration project is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and is to be operational in the second half of 2012.

“At 20 times the increased oxygen volume, this Louisiana project marks a significant scale-up in size from our successful five TPD ITM facility,” said Ted Foster, director of Business Development. “The 100 TPD unit to be built is an intermediate size unit and will provide reliable engineering and economic data to position this technology for the next scale-up in size to approximately 2,000 TPD, which we see as the logical step toward serving much larger energy plants.”

ITM technology uses a ceramic material which, under pressure and temperature, ionizes and separates oxygen molecules from air. No external source of electrical power is required in this process. ITM technology has the potential to produce oxygen more economically and efficiently, decrease the oxygen plant footprint, and also decrease the cooling water requirement for most large oxygen demand applications. The technology is an alternative to traditional cryogenic air separation units, the conventional means of producing the large quantities of oxygen required by steel mills, an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant, and also the newer oxy-combustion electric power plants that would capture carbon dioxide. The air separation process contributes to the overall capital cost of the traditional IGCC power plant and up to 80% of the internal power demand.

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