The new ASU, scheduled to go onstream in January 2021, adds to Air Products’ existing ASU at the same location and will provide oxygen, nitrogen and argon to both Big River Steel and the merchant market. Additionally, the two companies’ current long-term industrial gas supply contract was extended several years, Air Products said.
“One of our core company goals is to provide excellent customer service and we believe that a second ASU and contract extension with Big River is a good indication we are meeting that goal,” said Marie Ffolkes, president of the Americas at Air Products. “Big River is a premier steel manufacturer and we are pleased to be a key contributor to their expansion plans at Osceola.
“Our ASU will be important to Big River’s operations and our expanded facility’s configuration will allow us to further enhance reliability of product supply to Big River and to increase our industrial gas supply to current and new merchant market customers.”
The new facility will be capable of producing more than 250 tons per day of oxygen and additional quantities of liquid products, boosting Air Products’ liquid bulk business for the merchant market, which is seeing regional growth in several segments including food, metals, construction and stainless-steel industries.
Air Products has supplied Big River Steel at Osceola from a dedicated ASU since 2016. Big River Steel announced in June 2018 it is expanding its LEED-certified, Arkansas-based scrap recycling and steel production facility. The expansion will double Big River Steel’s hot-rolled steel production capacity to 3.3 million tons annually, the company said.
In addition, the expansion will facilitate the company’s ability to produce higher grades of electrical steel, demand for which is expected to increase with continued focus on energy efficiency and the increase in hybrid and electric vehicle sales.
“Big River Steel is pleased with Air Products’ performance and I look forward to expanding our relationship as Big River Steel doubles its steelmaking capacity,” said David Stickler, Big River Steel’s chief executive officer.