How Argon Gas and Liquid are Used Commercially
April 19, 2023
Argon is a versatile and plentiful natural gas. It is extracted from the atmosphere using a cryogenic process and can be stored as a liquid. There are many argon gas uses across industries, and liquid argon gas is used for scientific purposes, transportation, and storage. Argon industries include aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, food and beverage, and window pane insulation, to name a few.
Discover what argon gas is used for and how it might be useful for your specific applications.
What is Argon?
Argon is considered inert or inactive, colorless and odorless as a liquid or as a gas. It has many commercial applications. In gas form, it is the third most abundant gas in the Earth's atmosphere.
Additional properties of argon include:
- Low thermal conductivity
- The same water solubility level as oxygen
Argon Gas vs. Liquid Argon
Argon is found in the atmosphere as a gas, it can be converted to a liquid by cooling it to a temperature below 302.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Some of the principal differences between argon gas and liquid argon include the following:
- Purity: Argon liquid is the highest form of purity to supply argon
- Storage: Storing argon in liquid form is more efficient. Every unit of liquid argon produces 822 units of gas when converted to room temperature
- Utility: Argon gas has more applications across industries, with many organizations choosing to store and transport it in liquid form and convert it to gas for use.
Accessing argon is a detailed process. Extracting argon gas from the atmosphere requires sophisticated equipment, and it is a cryogenic liquid — a liquified gas with a standard boiling point below -150 degrees Fahrenheit. The difference in temperature between argon and its surrounding environment is extreme, even in colder temperatures. Special equipment is required to store and handle argon and other cryogenic liquids.
Argon gas is heavier than air and is recovered from the atmosphere with an air separation unit, which requires it to be drawn off as a cryogenic liquid. It can then be kept at low temperatures and distributed in liquid form or stored in gas cylinders.
What are the Uses for Argon Gas?
Argon is often used when an inert environment is required. Both liquid argon and argon gas have multiple applications across industries. Argon gas uses include but are not limited to the following:
- Lighting: When electricity is passed through argon, it emits a blue or purple glow, making it useful for neon lighting. It is also used to prolong the life of lightbulbs in incandescent lights to prevent rapid filament oxidization.
- Healthcare: Argon gas has extensive uses in the healthcare industry. For example, argon lasers are used in diabetic retinal phototherapy and retinal detachment. They are also used to close arteries and remove tumors.
- Food and Beverage: As argon is an inert gas, it is used in the food and beverage industry to displace oxygen in wine barrels and prevent oxidation. It is also one of the gases that can be considered for controlled atmosphere stunning in the poultry and swine industries.
- Manufacturing: Argon is extremely popular in welding and casting applications. It assists in making specialty alloys and manufacturing titanium. Many welders use it as a shielding gas in arc welding, protecting the metal being welded from the harmful effects of oxygen.
- Document preservation: The inert nature of argon gas provides a protective atmosphere to prevent degradation in old or historical documents when they are stored or displayed.
- Home insulation: Argon gas is used for thermal insulation in energy-efficient windows, specifically double-glazed windows, filling the space between the two panes.
- Metal production: Argon can be used to synthesize metals as it assists in reducing oxidation and replaces unwanted gases like carbon monoxide.
- 3D printing: Printing material undergoes a rapid heating and cooling process in additive manufacturing. Argon gas prevents oxidation and rusting during the printing process.
- Scuba diving: Argon is used in dry suits worn by scuba divers, as it provides better insulation than regular oxygen.
- Heat treating: Argon can create an oxygen- and nitrogen-free environment for heat-treating procedures.
- Radioisotope dating: Archaeologists and historians can use argon to date items up to 4 billion years old via radioisotopes.
What are the Uses for Liquid Argon
Argon is most commonly used as a gas, although it may be transported and stored in liquid form. Liquid argon is produced in large quantities at air separation plants.
In most cases, liquid argon is used in laboratory applications for spark analysis and dark matter studies. Additionally, liquid argon gas is used for the following:
- Calorimetry: Liquid argon measures the heat released in a chemical reaction.
- Storage and transportation: Argon is more efficiently transported and stored in liquid form, so argon is primarily maintained as a liquid after it is extracted from the atmosphere. When needed, it is placed in warmer temperatures to convert it into a gas for use.
The Benefits of Using Argon
There are significant advantages to using argon in various applications, which is one of many reasons it remains a popular choice across industries. Some of the benefits of using argon are:
- Increased insulation: Argon conducts heat slower than oxygen, making argon gas the perfect insulator for applications such as double-glazed windows and scuba diving dry suits.
- Reduced costs: Argon is an abundant inert gas, making it cost-effective to obtain and use in large quantities.
- Limited toxicity: Argon is non-toxic. Although there are dangers related to overexposure, it is safer to work with than many alternatives and is therefore ideal for the food and beverage industry.
- Inert Features: Argon gas does not react to form new compounds due to its inert nature, making it safer to use in manufacturing and controlling damage and corrosion.
Contact Linde for Argon Gas Storage and Supply Today
Trust the world's leading industrial gas and engineering company to supply various gases for your industry, including argon gas. Linde can help you with state-of-the-art gas processing solutions to support your business expansion, help improve your efficiency, and lower your emissions. You can take advantage of whichever of our supply options is more suited to your business, from cylinders and liquid containers to sophisticated pipeline operations for large-volume users.
We offer argon gas and liquid argon in various purities and concentrations to suit your business needs. Contact us today to request a quote or learn more about our gas supply and management programs.