Russian steelmaker NLMK Group’s flagship site in Lipetsk and the world leading industrial gas producer, Air Liquid, have signed a package of agreements on expanding co-operation.

Under the newly signed agreements, Air Liquide will construct a cutting-edge air separation unit (ASU) in Lipetsk and purchase assets for producing hydrogen and rare gas concentrates from NLMK. According to the Russian steelmaker, these joint projects will increase the reliability of NLMK’s supply of compressed air and the products of its separation as the company implements a planned 1Mt increase in steel production by 2022.

In Lipetsk, Air Liquide will design and build an ASU with a capacity of 34,000 cubic metres of oxygen per hour, as well as a steam turbine and a number of infrastructure facilities. The new outsourced ASU, will provide the plant with oxygen and nitrogen. It is claimed that start-up of the unit will boost the efficiency of NLMK production processes and help reduce costs, thanks to the ASU’s prime energy efficiency performance and gas production technology that does not require additional compressor units. The commissioning of the new equipment is planned for Q2 2023.

In addition, NLMK will sell two hydrogen production stations, a section producing inert gases (neon helium and krypton xenon mixes) and several filling stations to the French company. The sale of these facilities will ensure these production capacities continue to develop rapidly in order to meet leading international standards, and increase the mutual benefit of the deal to both companies.

NLMK Group's vice president for energy, Sergey Chebotarev, commented: “We welcome Air Liquide as our new partner at the NLMK production site. Our agreement will enable us to jointly develop our capabilities in industrial gas production and in new fields as well, including decarbonisation, hydrogen energy, and hydrogen steel production.”