Air separation plants

Having pioneered the first air separation unit in 1902, Linde builds on a long and rich heritage in cryogenic rectification. Over the years, we have delivered a steady stream of engineering innovations in this field. To this day, we remain at the forefront of the air separation business and continue to advance and fine-tune this key process for our customers in more than 90 countries around the world.

As one of the largest and most experienced suppliers of air separation plants and industrial gases worldwide, we have already delivered over 4,000 air separation plants around the globe. We have successfully engineered and executed some of the most sophisticated mega complexes in the world today. Our execution expertise covers the full technology, engineering, procurement and construction lifecycle.

Our leadership is built on a combination of innovative process technologies, state-of-the-art components and end-to-end engineering services extending from design and planning through to construction and operation. We manufacture all key components in house to ensure reliable operations and low lifecycle costs. Our vast portfolio is designed to offer the perfect fit for all volume, purity, product and performance needs. It scales from containerized and modularized ASUs to custom-engineered plants, producing anything from just a few hundred tons per day (tpd) to 5,500 tpd. Purity levels range from low to ultra-high.

Customers rely on us for compliance with the strictest health, safety, environmental and quality (HSEQ) standards. They also benefit from our trusted partner ecosystem combining global procurement capabilities with local market advantages. 

Facts and figures of our air separation business

  • Successful delivery of over 4,000 air separation plants in over 90 countries
  • Hands-on insights from the operation of more than 550 ASUs
  • Currently more than 356 patents protect Linde air separation technologies
  • 19% TCO savings in the operation of our plants over the last 10 years
  • 15% drop in average ASU power consumption over the last 10 years
  • Full performance spectrum from containerized and modular ASUs to customized plants for more complex, challenging projects
  • All key components made in house for reliable operation and low lifecycle costs
  • Full service portfolio over entire plant lifecycle through LINDE PLANTSERV®
Linde engineer is presenting a model of an air separation plant

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Milestones in air separation

Almost 120 years ago, Linde built the world’s first air separation unit. This was followed by a long list of “firsts”. Here you can read about just some of the highlights along the way. For a full list of milestones, refer to our brochure “Air separation plants. History and technological progress”.

  • 1902

    We pioneered the world’s first air separation unit (ASU) to produce oxygen using a single-column rectification system, thus paving the way for the use of gases in industrial applications.

  • 1904

    This was followed in 1904 by the first air separation plant capable of producing nitrogen.

  • 1910

    A double-column rectification system established the foundation for cryogenic air separation, making it possible to produce pure oxygen and pure nitrogen simultaneously.

  • 1978

    We replaced external gas compression systems with an internal compression solution, enhancing plant operation and maintenance, and greatly increasingly safety levels overall.

  • 1990

    We pioneered the production of pure argon by means of rectification, thus making production of this rare gas more economically viable.

  • 1997 / 2004

    In 1997, we built the world’s largest air separation plant for nitrogen at the Cantarell oil fields in Mexico, adding a fifth train in 2004 to bring total capacity to 5 x 10,000 tpd.

  • 2006

    We secured the largest engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract in the history of air separation. The air separation units at the Pearl GTL complex in Ras Laffan, Qatar, have an oxygen capacity of 8 x 3,800 tpd.

  • 2017

    We brought the world’s largest air separation plant on stream in Jamnagar, India. Featuring the world’s biggest coldbox weighing 800 tons, it produces 5 x 5,250 tpd of oxygen.