The Linde Group — in conjunction with the German American Chamber of Commerce — recently held its first-ever “Media Day” at its North American National Operations Center in Stewartsville, N.J. The primary purpose of the event was to foster new relationships with members of the industrial trade press corps while educating the media on the company’s vast capabilities.

It was quite a learning experience, While I had known that Linde (pronounced “Lind-a”) was a prime-time player in the industrial gases arena, there were quite a few things of which I was not aware prior to the site visit and facilities tour. For one, the extent of Linde’s reach across a broad range of end-use sectors (electronics, semiconductor, shipbuilding, petrochemical, steel, metals, glass, food and beverage, fabrication, pharmaceutical and medical segments, to name a few.) Second, the sheer breadth of products in Linde Group’s portfolio: oxygen, nitrogen, argon, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, liquefied natural gas, acetylene, helium, shielding gases, high-purity gases and specialty gas mixtures, among others. Third, Linde’s ability to assemble its diverse suite of resources to design, plan, construct and supply single-source process plant installations across these various industries.

Take Linde’s PM customer base, for example. Linde provides application-specific solutions for the ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy industries. Hydrogen gas —one of Linde’s popular product offerings — is widely used as an ambient gas for annealing furnaces for special steels and sintering furnaces in powder metallurgy. Similarly, Linde’s gaseous nitrogen offerings are utilized in a variety of chemical processes and thermal treatments of metals. Other essential applications of gas in metals include: helium (metal coatings), argon (steel refining) and oxygen and acetylene (welding and cutting, respectively).

When it comes to the future potential for gas applications in the key metals markets, you probably won’t find a more optimistic advocate than Tom Goodwin, head of metals and glass industries for Linde. He could barely contain his excitement when discussing the opportunities available with gas in metals production given the recent projections calling for high recovery of shale gas and continuing low prices compared to other energy alternatives (coal, for example). In this respect, he believes the US manufacturing sector is well positioned for a renaissance, in support of both the recovery of natural gas and downstream equipment supply for processing into derivatives and end products.

“Linde technologies and industrial gases are well positioned to meet the needs of the metals industry – increasing production capacity and driving efficiency while reducing emissions,” Goodwin explained. “Our solutions and gases provide impact every step in the metals process chain – from ore reduction and metals recycling through refining and casting to reheating and metal forming, and, finally, finishing and heat treatment. Our innovative solutions have already brought significant quantifiable benefits and efficiency gains to our customers.”

Two such Linde customers on the metals side include US steelmakers EVRAZ Claymount Steel and Michigan Seamless Tube, or MST. EVRAZ — one of the largest vertically integrated steel and mining businesses in the world — reported 50 percent reduction in specific fuel consumption and a 30-percent production increase with Linde’s REBOX® oxyfuel technology (utilized in a pusher reheat furnace). In that same vein, MST, which provides cold-drawn carbon, alloy and high chrome mechanical and pressure tubing and piping for many industries, recalled how they reduced fuel consumption by 60 percent and greatly improved reheating capacity and eliminated preheating in their rotary hearth furnace using REBOX®.

Tony Palermo, metallurgy industry program manager for Linde North America, provided an overview of how the technology works: With REBOX® DFI controlled oxyfuel flames are fired directly onto moving strip steel in large-scale continuous annealing furnaces which dramatically improves heat transfer. The REBOX portfolio includes equipment and control systems for oxygen-enrichment, oxygen-lancing, oxyfuel-boosting and 100 percent oxyfuel operation in reheat furnaces and annealing lines. According to Palermo, Linde has been a pioneer in oxyfuel solutions since the 1990s and has performed more than 130 installations around the globe.

It’s capabilities such as these that Linde is looking to leverage in its quest to both retain and expand its customer base. As Krish R. Krishnamurthy, PhD, head of clean energy technology-North America and CCS clean energy and innovation management at Linde Group put it: “Our focus is on what’s best for the customer in terms of a long-term solution. High-quality German engineering to give you the greatest value over time.”

For more details on Linde Group’s offering for the metals industry, please visit www.lindemetallurgy.com or check out the company’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/linde.

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