Les activités de la Commission A2 de l'IIF sur la liquéfaction et la séparation des gaz

Les défis liés à l'optimisation thermodynamique et aux nouvelles technologies dans le domaine de la liquéfaction et séparation des gaz sont actuelles et critiques pour de nombreuses branches de l'industrie, de la production d'électricité et de la médecine.
In spite of the fact that the last of the so called permanent gases –helium – was liquefied by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes in 1908, the problems related to thermodynamic optimization and new technologies in liquefaction and separation of gases are actual and critical for many branches of modern industry, power generation and medicine. The motivations for vast activities in the field are in particular the shortages of noble gases (3He, Kr, Xe), potential demand of increase in oxygen production capacity resulting from oxy-combustion technology implementation in thermal power plants, and emerging market applications of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

Due to nuclear disarmament and drastic drop in tritium availability resulting in significant decrease of 3He production from tritium decay, alternative sources of this rare helium isotope, now vastly used in neutron detectors, are being investigated. To extract 3He from 4He rich mixture, with a typical 3He content below 1 ppm, a thermomechanical filtering of superfluid helium on “entropy filter” combined with rectification column is being considered. The method is now being developed at Odolanow, Poland, the only plant of liquid helium extraction from natural gas in Europe.  The method, if feasible technically and economically, may fulfill  a need for superfluid helium loops in helium separation plants.

Carbon Capture and Storage policy may result in oxygen demand exceeding the present production capacity by at least two orders of magnitude. To provide sufficient oxygen quantities for oxy-combustion in thermal power plants, cryogenics is the only option. Other technologies, especially sorption and membrane, are under fast development, but without prospects for required production rates in near future.

The LNG turnover is increasing by about 20% per year. Natural gas liquefaction, transport, storage, vehicle fuelling and ship bunkering may be considered the most progressing branch within the scope of the A2 Commission. LNG may even restructure the whole energy economy worldwide combining environmental issues with fossil fuels and new technologies. LNG will be probably a driving force of cryogenics transmission to new markets and applications like transport, power generation and energy storage.

Other exemplary applications requiring robust and economical technologies of gas mixtures separation and liquefaction are cryotherapy (in particular whole-body cryotherapy requiring liquid nitrogen), waste and flue gas separation and cleaning, protective atmospheres in semiconductor and high-tech industry.

The work of the A2 IIR Commission reflects world-wide activities in the domain of separation of gases and liquefaction. Apart from the personal involvement of Commission members in various projects, we are present at conferences, workshops, and seminars: LNG International Exhibition and Conference, GASTECH, Cryogenics, Cryogen Expos, European Cryogenic Course and others. The Commission is close to academia, industry and end users of the separated and liquefied gases IIR input to the field globally visible and appreciated. The European Cryogenic Course being a common initiative of Wroclaw University of Technology, Dresden Technische Hochschule and Trondheim Technical University offers unique training in cryogenics provided to the students by lecturers from Academia, Industry (e.g. CHART FEROX) and International Laboratories (like CERN).

A2 Commission members work closely with A1 Commission on Cryophysics, Cryoengineering  and C1 Commission on Cryobiology and Cryomedicine.

Maciej Chorowski
President of the IIR’s Commission A2