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Information @ a Glance

General

  • Argon was discovered by Sir William Ramsay, a Scottish chemist, and Lord Rayleigh, an English chemist, in 1894. Argon makes up 0.93% of the earth's atmosphere, making it the third most abundant gas. Argon is obtained from the air as a byproduct of the production of oxygen and nitrogen.
  • Argon  is a chemical element designated by the symbol Ar. This highly stable chemical element is colorless, odorless, tasteless and nontoxic in both its liquid and gaseous forms. Argon is inert under most conditions and forms no confirmed stable compounds at room temperature

Technology

  • Metal powder technology is one of the most established production methods nowadays in all kinds of industries. Inert gas atomization, combined with melting under vacuum, therefore is the leading powder-making process for the production of high-grade metal powders which have to meet specific quality criteria such as:  Spherical shape;  High cleanliness;  Rapid solidification;  Homogeneous microstructure.

Manufacturing Process

  • Atmospheric air contains 0.93% argon and its economic removal has been assisted by the construction of very large distillation plants for the production of oxygen and nitrogen.
  • For higher purity levels argon is purified by the addition of a small excess of hydrocarbon, catalytic combustion to water and finally redistillation to remove both the excess hydrogen and any traces of nitrogen.

Uses

  • Argon is perticularly important for the metal industry, being used as an inert gas shield in arc welding and cutting. Other uses incude non-reactive blanket in the manufacture of titanium and other reactive elements and as a protective atmosphere for growing silicon and germanium crystals.
  • Argon is frequently used when an inert atmosphere is needed. It is used to fill incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs to prevent oxygen from corroding the hot filament. Argon is also used to form inert atmospheres for arc welding, growing semiconductor crystals and processes that require shielding from other atmospheric gases.
  • Argon Gas is Used In winemaking to top off barrels, displacing oxygen and thus preventing the wine from turning to vinegar during the aging process. In the pharmaceutical industry to top off bottles of intravenous drug preparations , again displacing oxygen and therefore prolonging the drug's shelf-life

Market

  • The U.S. analytical market for specialty gases is estimated at more than $400 million annually, according to Air Products. Volumes are not great, but it is a high value-added business that seems to be attracting more and more players, especially since the cost of setting up a quality specialty gas shop continues to decline.
  • US industrial gas demand will grow 3.6 percent annually through 2010. Best opportunities will remain in the key petroleum and natural gas market while faster growth will occur in smaller volume uses such as electronics and healthcare. Hydrogen will continue as the most valuable market while argon will be the fastest growing gas.

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