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Air Separation Plant Market Leaders & New Revenue Pockets

The global air separation plant market is projected to reach USD 7.27 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 5.3% from 2016 to 2026. The air separation plant market is driven by various factors, including the strong growth in demand, especially from iron & steel, healthcare, oil & gas, and other sectors. Product innovations and technological developments for air separation processes are expected to create strong investment opportunities in the market.

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In 2015, Air Liquide S.A. (France) held the largest share of the air separation plant market, followed by Linde AG (Germany). The dominance of Air Liquide S.A. in the air separation plant market is due to its extensive product line in the respective market across metal fabrication, oil & gas, petrochemical, and chemical industries.

Air Liquide has a strong presence worldwide focusing majorly on gases, industrial gas handling equipment, and other related services. The company has several departments such as i-Lab, a laboratory to work on new applications and ideas, and ALIAD, which invests in new start-ups for expansion. The company is expected to gain from Asia-Pacific countries such as China and India due to the presence of large automotive industry.

Recently, in April 2016, Air Liquide signed a long-term contract with Maoming Petrochemical Co. (MPCC), a subsidiary of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec Corp.). Under the terms of this new agreement, Air Liquide will invest around USD 45.1 million in a new air separation unit with a total capacity of 850 tonnes of oxygen per day. By signing another significant contract in October, 2015, Air Liquide made a long-term agreement with Yan’an Energy and Chemical. Under the terms of this new agreement, Air Liquide will invest around USD 90.3 million in two air separation units with a total capacity of 2,800 tonnes of oxygen per day.

Praxair, Inc. (U.S.), another major player operating in the air separation plant market, has enhanced and expanded its industrial gas handling equipment business in the international market through acquisitions. For instance, in May, the company acquired Scotland-based Dominion Technology Gases Investment Limited to expand its oil and gas-related capabilities in the offshore energy segment. The company’s operating income margin increased from 21% to 22% during 2014-15. Praxair also focuses on adding new and technologically advanced products, which reflects through its huge industrial gas handling equipment portfolio.

Air separation plants are used for purification of various components of air, in particular oxygen, nitrogen, argon, and sometimes other rare inert gases. For air separation, effective sizing and selection of separation equipment is always a combination of analytical modeling and empirical observation.

Air separation plants are manufactured depending on what gases are produced, capacity, and purity. The most apt process which has the least energy consumption and purchase price is selected without neglecting the requirement in the end-use specifications. Cryogenic and non-cryogenic are the two technologies that are used for air separation process, the most commonly used technology being the cryogenic process. Cryogenic technology is a process of high energy consumption.

The emerging economies have been focusing on industrialization over the last few decades. Countries such as China, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Brazil are transforming their economies from being agriculture-based to manufacturing- and other industries-based. With the emergence of new industries and technological developments in the manufacturing sector, the need for effective air separation plant has increased significantly. The global air separation plant market is projected to reach USD 7.27 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 5.3% from 2016 to 2026.

On the basis of end users, the air separation plant market has been categorized into iron & steel, oil & gas, chemical, healthcare, and others. The others segment includes food & beverage, glass, and coal gasification industries.

Iron & steel segment dominated the air separation plant market in 2015 with a share of around 60%. This segment is expected to continue its dominance in the coming years owing to the high demand from North America, South America, and Africa. Moreover, increasing demand for iron & steel products from developing countries in Asia-Pacific and the Middle Eastern regions for infrastructural development is also boosting the growth of the air separation plant market.

The primary processes involved in air separation are cryogenic and non-cryogenic. Between 2016 and 2021, the cryogenic segment is projected to be the fastest-growing process segment owing to the high demand from the iron & steel industry. The reliability of cryogenic ASU technology is very high, often exceeding 99%, which has increased its demand from fabricated metals and alloys industry across the globe. In addition, increasing dependency on pure gases for enhancing end products and rapid industrialization are expected to drive this segment during the next five years.

In 2015, Asia-Pacific dominated the global air separation plant market, followed by North America and Europe. Asia-Pacific is also the fastest-growing air separation plant market. The air separation plant market is developed in North America and Europe, while in China, India, and other APAC countries, this market is projected to grow significantly from 2016 to 2021. These countries are transforming their economies from agriculture-based to manufacturing and other industry-based economies. The growth of the Asia-Pacific region is supplemented by the expansion of the metal fabrication industry, growth of the chemical and electronics sectors, coupled with the growing medical/healthcare industry in developing economies such as Indonesia, India, and China.

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