Oxygen is a nonmetallic gas which is important for us not only for its industrial applications but also for its biological necessity —we cannot live without oxygen beyond a couple of minutes. All living beings need to breathe in oxygen for staying alive. When we breathe air oxygen is absorbed into the blood stream in the lungs and travels to every cell in the body where combustion of the food we eat takes place with the help of oxygen releasing energy and heat. Oxygen is valued for its high reactivity as it can effortlessly form oxides with all types of compounds and elements except the noble gases. Industrial oxygen is crucial for running wide range of manufacturing processes.
What is industrial oxygen?
Industrial oxygen is purified oxygen which is processed from the molecular oxygen constituting 21% of Earth’s atmosphere. Purity of industrial oxygen way higher than present O2 present in the atmosphere. In the cryogenic air separation process the atmospheric air is cleaned off all contaminants and impurities such as hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide and moisture are removed and it is cooled to cryogenic temperatures to achieve liquefaction. Gases constituting air have different boiling points so pure oxygen can easily be extracted. This is the entire process of producing industrial oxygen known variously as cryogenic distillation or fractional distillation. There are numerous other methods available such as pressure swing adsorption (PSA), membrane separation, etc.
Uses of industrial oxygen
Industrial oxygen is used in a wide range of industrial applications. Since oxygen supports combustion but in itself it is not combustible. Moreover, chief industrial application of oxygen is due to its combustion supporting property. Some of the industries in which industrial oxygen is use are briefly discussed below:
Oxygen is largely used in the steel making industry for sustaining the burning in the industrial production of steel. Combustion being the main industrial application of oxygen, it helps materials to burn ferociously in the presence of oxygen. Mostly used in steel industry for primary processes—basic oxygen furnaces and electrical arc.
Chemical industry is the 2nd largest consumer of industrial oxygen after the steel industry. The chemical industry uses 25% of all commercially produced oxygen.
Oxygen is used in the glass blowing industry for making ornaments that you see people use in festivals. Being a cottage industry the businesses mostly use oxygen cylinders to meet their O2 requirements.
Oxygen is also used by people cultivating fishes in ponds to ensure their trout is healthy. Oxygen is injected into the pond so that fishes could breathe oxygen in proper amount and turn out to be healthy. And, it goes without saying that healthier fish is tastier.