Innovation enables recycling of argon in solar ingot production for LONGi, China

Innovation enables recycling of argon in solar ingot production for LONGi, China



Innovation enables recycling of argon in solar ingot production for LONGi, China


LONGi is one of the six major Chinese manufacturers of photovoltaics and a developer of solar projects and the world’s largest manufacturer of mono-crystalline silicon wafers. We have supplied and installed 55 Argon0 units to serve existing and brand new facilities in Malaysia.


Delivering cost and carbon savings to an existing facility

The Argon0 units, which are relatively compact (about the size of a double wardrobe) and simple to install, can serve up to four furnaces at a time in this application. 15 of those supplied have been seamlessly integrated into LONGi Solar’s existing photovoltaic facility in Kuching, Malaysia where they have now been running 24 hours a day for over a year, delivering a return rate of over 94%.

Working with a Chinese-speaking partner in Taiwan to assist with client liaison and the installation, our UK commissioning engineer headed the team to ensure that the commissioning of the units met our standards. Post commissioning, a representative from our partner GR2L attended the site to confirm that all the units were working correctly.

Good working relations and a proactive attitude from those on site contributed positively to the speed and success of the project at Kuching.


Helping LONGi to retain its leadership position

40 Argon0 of the units we have supplied to LONGi have been installed in a brand-new facility for the production of 5GW monocrystalline ingots in Yunnan Lijiang, China. It is our largest installation to date and probably the world’s largest  installation for argon recovery. The stand-alone nature of the Argon0 and the fact that it connects to furnaces rather than the factory exhaust stream gives it a clear commercial advantage in simplicity of installation, which was an advantage on this project where we were working around other elements of the installation, and offers the potential for clients to test in situ.

LONGi has expressed a clear intent to concentrate on producing cost effective monocrystalline products* in order to consolidate its leading position in this segment. The Argon0s will contribute to this mission by reducing their demand for argon and will also have a significant impact on the carbon footprint of this huge business.


Creating one of the world’s largest know installations for argon recovery

Supplying 55 Argon0 units in one order is a considerable commitment but the team rose to the challenges in delivering a project of this scale and the units were ready on time and on specification.


Attention to every aspect of our delivery

The Argon0 units are shipped in bespoke crates designed to make shipping as cost effective as possible whilst ensuring safe delivery. Our crate supplier is a  member of the UK Wood Packaging Material Marking Programme and is approved by the Forestry Commission to provide ISPM 15, which means their products are compliant with international standards, and are suitable for use worldwide.


Quench pipe for cancer fighting proton beam at UCL

Quench pipe for cancer fighting proton beam at UCL



Helping to provide cancer fighting PBT for the NHS



Working with main contractor Bouygues UK, we are contributing to London, University College London Hospitals’ mission to improve the lives and outcomes for cancer sufferers, supplying quench pipes for the MRI scanners, hydrogen feeds to the proton beam systems and medical gas systems to the new clinical facility.



Located in the heart of London, University College London Hospitals’ new eleven storey building will be home to one of only two NHS proton beam therapy (PBT) centres in the UK. PBT is an advanced form of radiotherapy used for the treatment of complex and hard-to-treat cancers in children and adults but from 2020 patients at UCLH will benefit from PBT with potentially better outcomes and a lower risk of longer-term side effects.

In the same facility UCLH is also looking to develop Europe’s largest blood disorder treatment centre and a short stay surgical service.


Feeding hydrogen to proton beam machines

Proton beam therapy (PBT)  offers cancer patients fewer side effects than conventional X-ray radiotherapy. PBT uses charged particles instead of high energy X-rays. It allows a proton stream made up of ionized hydrogen gas to be targeted directly at a tumour with more accuracy than X-ray, reducing the dose to surrounding tissues and organs. The new therapy centres will make this advancement in cancer available to more NHS patients. We are designing and installing the hydrogen feed to the proton beam machine, which is vital to keeping the machine operating.


Ensuring the safe operation of MRI scanners

Magnets in the MRI scanners at UCLH are cooled with liquid helium. As helium turns to gas and expands rapidly at temperatures above -260° C the system requires a safety valve and quench pipe to ensure that in the unlikely event of the helium turning to gas it will be safely dispersed outside the building. We have installed quench pipes at UCLH for this purpose.


Rising to the logistical challenges of working in central London

We are designing and installing the customary suite of medical gas systems for a hospital system: oxygen, nitrous oxide, medical air, surgical air, medical vacuum, aesthetic gas scavenging system (AGSS) and carbon dioxide. The challenge for this project, for the medical gases, quench pipes and the hydrogen feed, comes from the location of the project. Working in Tottenham Court Road, Puretech had to overcome difficult access and no onsite storage. With a project of this scale experience really counts and we have considerable experience of delivering this type of project in central London and we like a challenge.


We are good at any project that’s challenging. We have a proven track record of rising to challenges and delivering everything that is required so the UCLH project is right up our street.

Andrew Barrett, Managing Director



High integrity distribution systems for AstraZeneca’s ground breaking biomedical facility

High integrity distribution systems for AstraZeneca’s ground breaking biomedical facility



High integrity distribution systems for AstraZeneca’s ground breaking biomedical facility





We have provided AstraZeneca Research and Development Centre, Cambridge with the high integrity distribution systems required for its mission to discover and deliver biopharmaceutical products to improve the lives of people with respiratory, cardiovascular, renal and metabolic conditions and cancer as part of an £8.5 million contract.



AstraZeneca is at the forefront of science in Britain, innovating in medicines to improve the lives of people with respiratory, cardiovascular, renal and metabolic conditions and cancer. Seeking to add biopharmaceutical products that will make ‘a meaningful difference to people’s lives’ to the portfolio of over 40 products which it currently manufactures and supplies to 130 markets worldwide.

AstraZeneca’s £500 million-plus global headquarters and research and development centre on Cambridge Biomedical Campus represents a major leap towards the company’s ambition to foster a collaborative culture and provoke innovation. Its innovative open design and location at the heart Campus – near to Addenbrooke’s, the new Royal Papworth Hospital and to external collaborators such as the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and University of Cambridge research institutions –  specifically intended to facilitate this.

We are unique in our ability to deliver both purified water and laboratory gas delivery systems to this scale of project.  As the recognised market leader in our field, we were selected to deliver turnkey high integrity distribution systems for both these and for liquid nitrogen, super critical fluid (SCF), clean steam, solvent delivery and waste collection plus a hydrogenation suite.


Every one of the systems in this project is potentially dangerous if not designed and installed with close attention to detail – we are dealing with high temperatures, high pressures, asphyxiants, flammable and volatile elements.

Robert Smith, Sales and Commercial Director

The project

T0 design, manufacture, co-ordinate, supply, install, test and commission turnkey high integrity distribution systems:

  1. Laboratory gases, including compressed air, vacuum and anaesthetic gas scavenging
  2. Purified water
  3. Hydrogenation
  4. Liquid nitrogen
  5. Solvent systems
  6. SCF
  7. Clean steam

Innovative laboratory gas delivery system for flexi labs

The innovative laboratory gas delivery systems we have designed for the AstraZeneca Research and Development Centre, which comprises over 75,000 metres of pipework and more than 3000 outlets, makes flexi lab working a reality. The copper pipes supplying the gases have outlets in the laboratories which connect to special flexible hoses, providing those using the laboratory with the option to reconfigure the layout of it and still safely deliver the gases required to wherever they are needed, or to add additional lines. Although this is a  high specification specialist system this innovative approach means that modifications can be carried out by on-site maintenance with no compromise to the system’s integrity and without specialist intervention. The couplings between the hoses and taps are specific to the gas to be supplied to avoid cross contamination and the various threats to health and safety that may result from this.

Maintaining a supply of purified water and clean steam

Purified water for the laboratories at AstraZeneca Research and Development Centre is generated using a Puretech OASYS pharmaceutical water system. Water direct from the mains (at approximately 200-1000 millisiemens per centimetre) is softened then passed through reverse osmosis (RO), which removes about 95% of microbes, particulates,, minerals etc. Electrodeionisation (EDI) then removes the remaining ions, leaving H2O with a purity of circa 0.1 mS/cm. This is stored in a 5000-litre tank and then pumped around a stainless-steel ring main to the various user points in the laboratories, ensuring a constant supply of purified water.

The OASYS provides purified water for the Centre’s plant and clean steam system. Purified water is evaporated in a pure steam generator and piped to the laboratories where it is primarily used for sterilisation.

As with all our systems, the pipework for the purified water and the clean steam systems at the Centre is stainless-steel and orbitally welded to give the cleanest surface possible internally and externally and to ensure the maximum possible integrity to the joints. An argon purge of the system is used to prevent oxidisation internally and a borescope is used to check the system prior to commissioning.

Weld maps describing each weld and how it was inspected, with video evidence if available, are supplied to the client together with details of the welders’ qualifications, procedures used, material certificates and gas certificates. Once completed the we passivate the system to remove any oxidisation.

Ensuring system purity where it matters most – the hydrogenation suite

Hydrogenation is the chemical addition of hydrogen to a hydrocarbon in the presence of a catalyst, a severe form of hydrogen treating. The use of hydrogen requires precautions against creating an explosive mix of hydrogen and air. Typically, a hydrogenation vessel undergoes a pressure test followed by several nitrogen purges before hydrogen is introduced. Similarly, at the end of the reaction process, the vessel is purged with nitrogen in order to leave it in a safe condition.

Very small gauge stainless-steel pipework ( ¼”) delivers hydrogen, compressed CO2 and nitrogen serve the hydrogenation room where it feeds the 2-litre vessels which are at the heart of the hydrogenation process.

Not only is the purity of the installation of this intricate system critical in aesthetic terms, as it is all on show in this state-of-the-art facility, but it is critical because of the potentially catastrophic consequences of any fault, for example, a leak in the hydrogen delivery system.

AstraZeneca’s research facility is purpose built to carry out experiments at the very fore front of biopharmaceuticals, with researchers working with gases at high temperatures and high pressures and potentially in untested scenarios. The risk of this type of work is minimised by working in small scale, but it still exists. The hydrogenation suite design is? ‘explosion smart’, with blast panels designed control where the energy leaves the area should an explosion occur.

Once installed the system is fully tested and commissioned to the highest standards.

Delivering liquid nitrogen safely

To deliver liquid nitrogen, which has an extraordinarily low boiling point of -196C, from the 5000 litre storage tanks at AstraZeneca to the points of use (direct feeds and dewars) around the facility requires a system of insulated pipework. 1.5” stainless-steel pipes run through 3” stainless steel pipes with a vacuum between the two to minimise gas-off. The integrity of the pipework is essential in maintaining the vacuum and the temperature of the nitrogen and in keeping the nitrogen in its liquid form and  containing it. Nitrogen is deadly in its gas form, so a leak is potentially disastrous.

Solvent delivery system

The storage of solvents presents a number of health and safety risks as they can be flammable, toxic and corrosive so they are kept in a designated area from which they are pumped to the outlets where they’re needed. AstraZeneca solvent delivery system has three solvent lines, one dedicated to dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and two others.

In addition, the solvent room is supplied with supercritical fluid (SCF or liquid Co2). The liquid Co2 acts like an organic solvent and is delivered from storage tank via orbitally welded insulated stainless-steel pipes. Unlike many organic solvents, supercritical CO2 is non-flammable. It is inert, non-toxic, has a relatively low cost and has moderate critical constants.


To make the installation of the gas system as efficient as possible we built an innovative system of pipework cassettes populated with blocks of quick connect points for the flexi hoses.  Once on site the cassettes are loaded into modules, with up to 10 pipes on each module carrying gases plus power, chilled water, sprinkler system etc.


Providing the high integrity delivery systems for ground breaking biomedical facility at AstraZeneca’s Research and Development Centre is a three-year project, which demonstrates the range of our capabilities, our innovative approach and our dedication to delivering systems with zero compromise on integrity or aesthetics, which deliver the gas or liquid they are designed for safely and purely.