Air Products, a world-leading industrial gases company, reported it will build, own, and operate a second air separation unit to support Big River Steel’s expansion at its steel mill in Osceola, Arkansas.
According to company officials the new ASU, scheduled to be onstream in January 2021, adds to Air Products' existing ASU at the same location and will provide oxygen, nitrogen and argon to both Big River Steel and the merchant market. Additionally, the two companies' current long-term industrial gas supply contract was extended several years.
The new facility will be capable of producing over 250 tons per day of oxygen and additional quantities of liquid products, boosting Air Products' liquid bulk business for the merchant market which is seeing regional growth in several segments including food, metals, construction and stainless-steel industries.
"One of our core company goals is to provide excellent customer service and we believe that a second ASU and contract extension with Big River is a good indication we are meeting that goal. Big River is a premier steel manufacturer and we are pleased to be a key contributor to their expansion plans at Osceola. Our ASU will be important to Big River's operations and our expanded facility's configuration will allow us to further enhance reliability of product supply to Big River and to increase our industrial gas supply to current and new merchant market customers," said Marie Ffolkes, President, Americas at Air Products.
Big River Steel's CEO David Stickler commented, "Big River Steel is pleased with Air Products' performance and I look forward to expanding our relationship as Big River Steel doubles its steelmaking capacity."
Air Products has supplied Big River Steel at Osceola from a dedicated ASU since 2016, officials said. Big River Steel announced in June 2018 that it is expanding its LEED-certified, Arkansas-based scrap recycling and steel production facility. The expansion will double Big River Steel's hot-rolled steel production capacity to 3.3 million tons annually. In addition, the expansion will facilitate the company's ability to produce even higher grades of electrical steel, demand for which is expected to increase with continued focus on energy efficiency and the increase in hybrid and electric vehicle sales.
Air Products currently owns and operates over 300 air separation plants in over 40 countries worldwide in all types of applications. In addition to its plants, the company has sold, designed, and built more than 2,000 air separation plants globally. Air Products' cryogenic offerings span a range of production capabilities, from plants with a capacity of 50 TPD, to single train facilities with oxygen production capacities beyond 4,000 TPD.