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Air Products commissions second nitrogen plant at Tronox site in South Africa

By Mary Page Bailey |

Air Products South Africa has announced that Air Products’ On-Sites Projects Team recently celebrated the successful commissioning of the second Prism Nitrogen production unit at Tronox Mineral Sands in Empangeni, KZN, South Africa. The plant will be owned and operated by Air Products and will supply high purity Nitrogen on an “over the fence” basis to Tronox. The plant uses Air Products’ proprietary Prism technology to produce Nitrogen by the Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) process. The plant is highly optimized for energy efficiency and incorporates Air Products equipment, control systems and technology to supply a continuous stream of nitrogen. The plant is configured for remote monitoring and operation, and it is managed from the Air Products Air Separation Unit (ASU) and CO2 production hub in Newcastle, KZN.

This plant is the second PSA unit installed by Air Products at the Tronox Mineral Sands Facility. The first was commissioned in June 2002. As a result of the customer’s requirements for nitrogen increasing, it became necessary to install the second Nitrogen PSA unit. The project scope included the installation and commissioning of the new unit, as well as the refurbishment of the existing PSA unit which has been in continuous service since 2002.

According to Air Products Project Manager Robert Du Pisanie, one of the challenges was the tight project schedule that they needed to operate within. The project schedule spanned only 18 weeks from the initial kick of meeting to on-stream. Civil work commenced early in June 2019 with Mechanical, Electrical and Instrumentation commencing in mid July 2019. Du Pisanie concludes: “The required on-stream date was the 31st August 2019, but due to the strong commitment and focus by the Air Products as well as the Tronox team, we managed to ensure that this deadline was achieved with just two days to spare”.

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