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|Ahead of the Trend
Learn how Air Products built its #1 hydrogen position
It's a classic example of vision meets opportunity.
To the world's leading producer of hydrogen—Air Products—oil refiners have long been an inviting market. They use a lot of hydrogen in their refining processes to remove sulfur from increasingly sour crude oil. Until the late 1980s, they made their own hydrogen. But things change and Air Products was watching closely as demand for transportation fuels was increasing and more of the crude oil being refined to make these fuels contained higher sulfur content. Also, new environmental regulations to reduce smog and ozone depletion were being introduced requiring refiners to remove significantly more of the sulfur from their gasoline and other fuels.
The time was right for oil companies to outsource hydrogen production and Air Products was the right company to make it for them. As the originator of the onsite business model—in other words, building a plant on or next to the customer's site—we understood how to manage large projects under long-term supply contracts with chemical and petrochemical producers and with an unmatched record of onstream performance. For oil refiners this was a new approach, but Air Products was able to convince them that we could meet their stringent demands for safety, reliability and operational excellence.
Air Products Today
Air Products remains the world leader in hydrogen production, growing at about a 20 percent compound rate since the early 1990s with about half of the market for outsourced hydrogen in the world. Hydrogen sales constitute about 15 percent of the company's consolidated sales. Together with Technip, our partner since the beginning in the construction of cost-competitive hydrogen technology based on steam methane reforming, we have built, own and operate over 30 steam methane reformers worldwide.
The future? Look for us across the globe as Air Products expands its hydrogen leadership into the fast-growing emerging markets of the Middle East and Asia.