LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa., June 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The increasing global demand for energy is just one market-driver pushing the development, demand and use of membrane technology. This was just one of the messages delivered by Air Products' (NYSE: APD) PRISM Membrane Group director of operations and technology Charlie Page in his opening session keynote speech today at the 22nd Annual North American Membrane Society (NAMS) Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.
"Membranes as a technology have been known for a long time, but their use as a commercial product in gas separations has only been fairly recent. Developments in polymer sciences dating back many years led to discoveries of synthetic materials mimicking natural membranes that were capable of performing interesting industrial separations," Page told the audience.
Page delivered a retrospective synopsis of the evolution of the commercialization of membrane technology into the industrial sector in his address. With 30 years experience, he began work in this area much earlier and joined Air Products' membrane business via a 1991 technology acquisition. Page continued as global membrane product owner before assuming commercial responsibility for Air Products' PRISM Membranes Group in 2000 and became program director in 2008.
Page said he was honored to give the keynote address. "This type of opportunity is a real honor when you consider the long list of distinguished membrane experts who have given keynote talks in the past," he said.
In looking both back to the past and ahead to the future of membrane technology, Page noted that Air Products has spent many years working with aerospace and transportation industries in making the transport of people and materials safer for the world. "Perhaps our most important market segment in today's business is in aerospace, specifically OBIGGS (On Board Inert Gas Generating System). Inerting of fuel tanks for the prevention of fire and explosions has taken a long time to develop. Today, we supply membranes for both military and commercial passenger aircraft. Almost all new production aircraft are being equipped with membranes. OBIGGS will be a key market for many applications for many years requiring large numbers of high performance membranes," Page said.
He added that it is not just planes, but also trains that Air Products has played a role with safe travel. "In fact, Air Products membranes have even provided oxygen enriched air that is used on high altitude trains in Tibet to partially offset the decreased cabin pressure and ensure passenger safety," he said.
In looking forward, Page also noted that Air Products' development of ceramic membranes for oxygen production, with much support from the United States Department of Energy, is a potential game changing enabler for clean energy production. "We need to keep finding new technologies that will address the pressing needs of a world with increasingly depleted resources," he said.
With more than 500 of the large process gas systems installed, and over 100 thousand nitrogen and air dehydration membranes shipped to customers across many applications, Page said he takes great pride in the reliable and long-term stable performance these units have displayed. "By long term, we mean years, not hours or days. We are also quite proud that we have maintained a 'green' factory with respect to our environmental impact," he said.
Air Products is the worldwide leader in production of gas separation and purification membranes. Membrane technology is used to separate and purify gases. Membrane modules contain thousands of hollow fibers to provide high processing capacity in a compact unit. Membranes are often used to produce nitrogen from compressed air; for hydrogen recovery and purification; for ratio adjustment to balance a mix of gases; air and gas dehydration to remove water, which can impact compressed gas performance; and natural gas treatment for removal of impurities.
Nitrogen membrane demand is driven by product needs from the chemical production, food processing, liquefied natural gas, oil and gas, transportation, and mining industries. Hydrogen membranes are used in chemical, refining, and biofuels processes. Dehydration membranes are used in compressed air systems and for high pressure requirements such as natural gas dehydration. Air Products' PRISM® membranes have been used to produce gases to inert fuel tanks aboard aircraft; for use in coal mine methane recovery operations in China; to enrich oxygen for passengers on the world's longest and highest highland railway, the Qinghai-Tibet railway; and to produce nitrogen for blanketing chemical, methanol, and liquefied gas shipments around the globe.
Air Products' PRISM® line of gas generation systems supplied generated nitrogen and oxygen to more than 1,500 customers in over 30 countries worldwide. More information on PRISM(R) membrane systems can be found at www.airproducts.com/membranes.
Air Products (NYSE:APD) provides atmospheric, process and specialty gases; performance materials; equipment; and technology. For over 70 years, the company has enabled customers to become more productive, energy efficient and sustainable. More than 18,000 employees in over 40 countries supply innovative solutions to the energy, environment and emerging markets. These include semiconductor materials, refinery hydrogen, coal gasification, natural gas liquefaction, and advanced coatings and adhesives. In fiscal 2011, Air Products had sales of approximately $10 billion. For more information, visit www.airproducts.com.
NOTE: This release may contain forward-looking statements within the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are based on management's reasonable expectations and assumptions as of the date of this release regarding important risk factors. Actual performance and financial results may differ materially from projections and estimates expressed in the forward-looking statements because of many factors not anticipated by management, including risk factors described in the Company's Form 10K for its fiscal year ended September 30, 2011.
SOURCE Air Products