The smartest way to have industrial gases delivered

Gas tank or gas cylinders?
Entrepreneurs & Professionals
12 November 2018

Air Liquide customers can choose from several options for the delivery of industrial gases. The most common choices are packaged gas, which is supplied in individual cylinders or cylinder packs, and bulk on site. For the latter, a fixed gas tank is installed at the customer’s site. Having options is critical for any industry, but how do you decide whether to opt for packaged gas or bulk on site?

“That depends on several parameters,” observes Gabriele Occhipinti, Air Liquide Engineering and Maintenance Manager. “One of the most important of these is the volume you think you need. The tipping point is between 1,500 m3 and 4,000 m3 per month. If you’re above that point, bulk on site is the most logical option. This of course assumes that it is possible to have a gas tank installed at your site. If your average consumption remains below 1,500 m3 per month, it is usually best to choose between individual gas cylinders or cylinder packs. A pack is a bundle of several gas cylinders that are housed in a solid frame. In practice, a cylinder pack behaves like a single gas cylinder, with a single valve but with a much larger capacity.”


Purity: high or extremely high?

A second important element is the purity of the gases. “Air Liquide is renowned for the high purity and quality of the gases it sells, both in cylinders and through bulk on site,” explains Dave Sharpe Air Liquide UK Distribution Manager. “Both options are therefore more than sufficient in terms of quality and purity for normal industrial applications. But if the application requires complex custom-to-order gas mixtures, or if the purity has to be extremely high, as for some laboratory and calibration applications, cylinder gas is the preferred option. We have specialised filling systems for custom-to-order mixtures with different components. Composition may be based on percentages or PPM levels and fall within very strict tolerances. For bulk on site mixed gases, the mixtures are limited to just two gases, with a slightly lower degree of purity.”



The infographic below makes an initial recommendation, but it’s still advisable to contact one of our specialists before finalising any decision.

A solution to meet legal restrictions

“Suppose the amount of gas you need is above the tipping point of 4,000 m3 per month and you intend to use the gas in a normal, industrial context,” says Dave Sharpe. “In that case, bulk on site is the most logical option. But of course, this is only possible if it is practical – and permitted – to install a gas tank with the necessary capacity on the customer’s site."

“In this respect, it is important to note that some countries make important legal distinctions between gas tanks and cylinder packs, even if the combined capacity of the packs – which can be connected by gas pipes and utilize a single common valve – equals or exceeds that of a gas tank. For this reason, some customers who aren’t allowed to have a gas tank installed still opt for a cylinder pack. A 3,000 litre N2 gas tank has approximately the same capacity as a group of seven cylinder packs of 27 bottles each. Usually we make sure that there are always two packs with the customer; one to use and one ready to take the next turn. The customer can switch between the two packs by means of a control panel.”

Gas tanks

“Customers who use industrial gases for cooling, for example in the food and waste industry, should always opt for a bulk on-site solution, as it is not possible to deliver cryogenic gases in cylinders,” says Gabriele Occhipinti. “But it doesn’t have to be a large gas tank. We can accommodate smaller consumers using compact skid tanks (capacity 200 to 600 litres) or ‘Rangers’.”

For larger bulk on-site solutions, Air Liquide installs a double-walled vacuum cryogenic liquid gas tank that meets all local environmental standards. Air Liquide is also responsible for maintenance and, if needed, provides the necessary material for the regasification of liquid gas. Customers do not have to invest in the tank, but they do have to enter into a contract for a minimum of three years and agree to a minimum purchase.

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